September 3, 2013

Our 2013 AFC conference preview

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

It’s the best time of the sporting year folk: The beginning of the NFL season. It’s a sport like no other and one of the most popular in the world. Finding a sports fan that doesn’t like the NFL is like finding an Irishman that doesn’t enjoy a pint of Guinness here and there. So with the season kicking off on Thursday night, there’s no time like the present to pound out a preview with some predictions.

Today’s the AFC, tomorrow will be the NFC and we’ll wrap it up on Thursday and Friday with some picks and a big Super Bowl prediction.

New England Patriots 12-4

Being in this division nets them six easy wins off the bat. There are some offensive worries, but you have to have confidence in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – they’ve done better with worse before.

Miami Dolphins 5-11

I’m not a fan of what the Dolphins did in the off-season. They changed their iconic logo, signed the overrated Mike Wallace to a massive deal, lost their left tackle and also lost their best playmaker. At least they’re the best of the rest in AFC East.

Buffalo Bills 4-12

Let’s all remember something very quickly before you think that the Bills could do as well as last year’s 6-10 record. They have a rookie head coach who didn’t have a great record in college and a QB that everyone agrees that they reached on.

New York Jets 4-12

What a mess this team is. Rex Ryan will undoubtedly be fired before the Super Bowl and even more likely before the season is over.

Cincinnati Bengals 11-5

The AFC north title is now the Bengals’ to lose. They’ve built their team in typical AFC north fashion: Through defence. And believe it or not, the Red Rifle, Andy Dalton, has put up some surprising numbers in his first two seasons.

Baltimore Ravens 9-7

The defending Super Bowl champions won’t have an easy road back. This is almost an entirely new defence and they lost their top tight end and traded away playoff hero Anquan Boldin for next to nothing. It’ll be interesting to see how well Joe Flacco performs after getting his massive new contract.

Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8

This is a rebuilding year for the Steelers, whether they like it or not. They lost some veterans across the board and their running game is in shambles thanks to Le’Veon Bell’s injury. While Pittsburgh fans would never stand to see their team tank, but that might actually be the best course of action here. A .500 record gets them nowhere.

Cleveland Browns 4-12

This is a relatively unknown team that really lacks big names to get fans excited. The Browns have some talent, but it’s still a young team with a questionable track record for success.

Houston Texans 12-4

The only thing that could hold the Texans back is their passing game. Matt Schaub doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when you need a QB to lead a fourth-quarter comeback. But when you grade the Texans on their running game and defence, they’re right near the top of the league.

Tennessee Titans 10-6

Surprised? I am too! When I ran through their schedule and tallied wins, the Titans turned out to be a surprise wild card team. They have a light schedule and I figure the Colts to take a huge step back.

Indianapolis Colts 5-11

There’s a lot of regression to factor in here. They’re going to change an offensive style that worked and won’t be bouyed by the Chuckstrong phenomenon. That defence was an issue last season that their comebacks hide well.

Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13

The Jags are once again a top contender to get the No. 1 overall pick, but will likely blow it as per usual. Maurice Jones-Drew being in a contract year could actually win them a couple of games down the stretch.

Denver Broncos 11-5

Peyton Manning and his three great receivers will have no problem putting points on the scoreboard, but it’s the defence that they should be concerned about. With Von Miller suspended six games and Elvis Dumervil gone, the Broncos defence will have problems putting pressure on opposing QBs and that will lead to problems defending the pass. It won’t stop them from winning this weak division though.

Kansas City Chiefs 7-9

Let’s not go overboard about Andy Reid’s arrival. It’s not like he was any good his last few years in Philly. And for the first five seasons of his career, Alex Smith was being called a bust. This team has talent, but let’s not pencil them into a playoff berth quite yet.

San Diego Chargers 6-10

This is a rebuilding year for the Chargers and also Philip Rivers’ last in San Diego. There’s not much talent on this team and realistically could finish 4-12. And really, the best thing for this team would be to tank and load up on draft picks.

Oakland Raiders 2-14

Spoiler alert: The Raiders will be the worst team in the league. Between the combo of Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor, Oakland’s QB situation might actually be worse than Jacksonville’s. The defence is also among the league’s worst – something Jadeveon Clowney could help.

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