It’s the first Sunday of the NFL Season and the first slate of games is over….
But there’s still time for some season-long AFC Predictions!
- New England Patriots 11-5
- Miami Dolphins 9-7
- New York Jets 4-12
- Buffalo Bills 4-12
Yet again, I look for the New England Patriots to continue their stranglehold on this division and walk away with the AFC East crown for another season. However, the teams behind them are steadily improving, such as the Miami Dolphins, who I expect to be battling for a playoff spot. The Jets and Bills struggles’ will most likely come from their inexperience at the quarterback position.
- Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
- Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
- Baltimore Ravens 8-8
- Cleveland Browns 5-11
These are where my predictions vary from most. I believe the Steelers will have what it takes to rise to the top of the division this year, while most believe the Bengals will continue their run of division titles. A season of failure will have coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers very hungry for a postseason berth, and they seem primed to make a run. That being said, I still believe Cincinnati will be a playoff team, with Baltimore still struggling to get its footing after its Super Bowl. The Browns will struggle, as usual, eventually leading them to bring in QB Johnny Manziel, who will make some highlight reel plays that will give Cleveland fans hope for the future.
- Indianapolis Colts 11-5
- Houston Texans 6-10
- Tennessee Titans 5-11
- Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11
This is currently the weakest division in the NFL. The Colts should absolutely run away with this division, but that being said, I can see their weak secondary giving them a few bumps and tough losses along the way. All of the other teams in the division are in their rebuilding, and are in different stages of installing their personnel and team plans. Believe it or not, I think that the Texans are the closest to contention, and should rebound with 4 more wins than last season. The Titans and Jaguars will essentially tread water, and continue to gain experience for their young rosters in hopes of competing in the future.
- Denver Broncos 13-3
- San Diego Chargers 10-6
- Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
- Oakland Raiders 3-13
Surprise, surprise, QB Peyton Manning will lead his team back to the playoffs… AGAIN. However, I don’t think he’ll be alone, as the much improved Chargers should be able to separate themselves from the Chiefs and Raiders. Injuries and free agent losses will really take a toll on Kansas City, and I fully expect them to take a step back this season. On the other hand, I think the Raiders will take some steps in the right direction while developing rookie QB Derek Carr. Expect the Raiders to be competitive in some surprising games, but ultimately be a team building for the future.
Wild Card Round
Chargers vs. Colts –> 28-24, Colts
Steelers vs. Bengals –> 24-21, Steelers
QB Andrew Luck is a rising star in this league, and has some experience in the playoffs. I fully expect that to serve him well, and to beat the Chargers at home. On the other hand, I can see QB Ben Roethlisberger taking Pittsburgh on the road, and squeaking out a victory against the Bengals.
Steelers vs. Broncos –> 30-24, Broncos
Colts vs. Patriots –> 35-30, Patriots
Denver will enjoy their week off, and come back to tear up the Pittsburgh secondary, and secure their spot in the AFC Championship game. For the Colts, I believe their season will come to an end, once again, at the hands of QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Isn’t Luck’s career starting eerily similar to P. Manning’s in the way that he struggles against the Patriots in the playoffs? Either way, I believe it comes down to a repeat of last year’ AFC Championship.
NFC Championship Game
Patriots vs. Broncos –> 35-24, Patriots
I know that the Broncos got much better on the defensive side of the ball, but so did the Patriots. I couldn’t see coach Bill Belichick getting back to this game and scenario and letting him slip by again. I fully expect New England to make the necessary adjustments, and make their way back to the Super Bowl.