With training camp and preseason football right around the corner, it is getting time to make some predictions. The BRB staff wanted to get some of theirs out before most of the national television talking heads clog up the sports news cycle with theirs. Don’t worry, none of us are going to go for shock value and summon our inner Skip Bayless for this.
I’d have to say NE, KC and IND are locks. That leaves three spots, two of them being wild cards.
The North is probably the toughest division to predict this season, but I expect one of the Wild Cards to come out of the North. CLE is on the rise and I like what BAL & PIT have going. In the end, I’ll go with CLE & BAL.
As for the final spot, HOU will have a shot, but they’ll be battling with the likes of LAC & BUF. I’ll go with LAC because I don’t like where Houston’s defense is right now.
TL;DR NE, KC, IND, CLE, BAL, LAC
I’ll add LAC to Jeremy’s locks including NE, KC, and IND. These are four solid, well-coached teams with horses at QB.
You gotta have a rep from the AFC North, and I think that will be a fight between PIT, CLE, and BAL, in that order. From the AFC South, JAX is a strong consideration.
In the end, I think it will be LAC, NE, KC, IND, PIT, and JAX, but CLE and BAL both have a strong shot to sneak in there.
New England (East), Cleveland (North), Indianapolis (South) and Los Angeles (West) as the division leaders. Kansas City and Pittsburgh are the two wild card teams. Dang the AFC is not nearly as good as the NFC this year.
LA is casually loaded and a tough team to beat. Even though their home environment is not impressive, this team is locked in for a run than in years past. New England will be New England even with out some of their weapons (again).
Cleveland is in the driver’s seat in the NFC North for the first time in a generation. I’m in awe that they’ve got a team turned around so quick, but they need to put it all together on a week by week basis if they want to live up to the hype.
Indianapolis has a stud offensive line that will pave the way for another playoff run in front of Andrew Luck’s arm. I’m honestly excited to watch them develop as a team. Indianapolis is the poster child for how to build a team from the ground up with a unique defensive plan and an offense that is hard to keep pace with.
Here’s my way-to-early expectations for how the playoff seeding goes for the AFC this season:
AFCW – Chiefs: Mahomes is a finalist for MVP and leads KC to a 12-4 record and a bye-week.
AFCN – Browns: Mayfield is a finalist for MVP and Cleveland gets a bye-week with a 12-4 record.
AFCE – Patriots: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. When will Brady finally retire? 11-5 record. /yawn
AFCS – Colts: Luck is surrounded with a complete team; 10-6 record and host a wildcard game.
Wildcard – Texans: Watson is a finalist for MVP as he set several NFL records against a VERY rough schedule. Tie-breakers with Jacksonville squeaks Houston into the playoffs; 9-7 record.
Wildcard – Chargers: They peak and surge at the end of the season after a slow start; 9-7 record.
I haven’t done the research. I still haven’t looked at the math and watched the film yet. So all this is preliminary.
That being said, my picks today are:
All of this will probably change when my heart is fresh after I finish being the Cowboy in Wyoming.
New England Patriots win the AFC East. It’s the only movie ever that has near 20 sequels and still has yet to bomb. Same old story. Brady and Bill, business as usual.
Cleveland Browns capture the AFC North crown. There is too much talent on the offensive side. The Steelers will compete and I do not trust Lamar Jackson. They also may be the most interesting team.
Indianapolis Colts win the South. Andrew Luck might have the most complete roster in the conference. Their offensive line could be the best in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs win their fourth straight. Patrick Mahomes can throw for an MVP-caliber 4500 yards and 38 touchdowns yet it would still be a massive drop off from last season. The defense is going to look totally different.
Houston Texans and Los Angeles Chargers secure the wild card spots. Deshaun Watson will take the next step, putting him in the elite tier of quarterbacks. The Chargers defense has stars everywhere and many of us have forgotten about them since they were wiped away in New England. This year they won’t have the exact same game plan for Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady.
We won’t take these predictions to the bank just yet. There is a lot that needs to happen before opening Sunday. But these are our early gut feelings. Which one of us seems the most off-base?