September 7, 2017

Can anyone challenge the Patriots atop the AFC?

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

It’s not often you see a Super Bowl winner get stronger in the off-season, but New England did just that. Does anybody in the AFC have a shot at unseating Brady and Belichick in 2017?


New England Patriots

The champs only somehow got better in the off-season. While we don’t think the Pats will be perfect, we wouldn’t be surprised by it either. This is a team that we should see in the Super Bowl yet again, unless it is derailed by some big, key injuries.

Prediction: 13-3

Miami Dolphins

Can Jay Cutler lead the Dolphins to the playoffs? Probably not, but he can get them to .500. Miami’s defence – its biggest weakness – didn’t get too big of an upgrade in the off-season, either.

Prediction: 8-8

Buffalo Bills

With a new coach, GM and direction, this should be a big learning season for the Bills. Trading a couple of key players for picks shows their hand for this season, though, and it looks like Buffalo fans should be resigned to yet another season out of the playoffs.

Prediction: 5-11

New York Jets

The Jets are doing anything they can to tank this season. With virtually zero weapons on offence, this is going to be an awful team to watch and could struggle to even get two wins.

Prediction: 2-14


Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers offence, lead by the four B’s, should be among the league’s best. With the defence sharpening up late in the season, this whole team could be a force to be reckoned with.

Prediction: 11-5

Cincinnati Bengals

Not much has changed with the Bengals – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Can Andy Dalton lead this team to the playoffs? Sure, it’s a possibility, but the ceiling isn’t incredibly high for the Bengals.

Prediction: 8-8

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens have been in cap hell since winning the Super Bowl and then having to sign Joe Flacco to a huge deal. There’s not a lot of youth on offence, so there’s not much room to grow. It might be time for coach John Harbaugh to blow it up.

Prediction: 7-9

Cleveland Browns

One of these days, the Browns may actually be good. This not one of them. In the midst of what is going to be a long rebuild, at least they can say they have some pieces in place.

Prediction: 3-13


Tennessee Titans

With a strong offensive line, a good running game, a potential franchise QB and some added receiving weapons, the Titans are a common sleeper pick. The defence has improved, as well, so there’s no reason to think that Tennessee won’t be playoff-bound.

Prediction: 10-6

Houston Texans

The Texans made the playoffs last year while lacking solid QB play and could do the same again this year. With J.J. Watt returning from a back injury, the defence could be even better and led this team back to the post-season.

Prediction: 10-6* – wild-card spot

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts’ season all depends on Andrew Luck’s surgically repaired shoulder. Every game he misses should be penciled in for a loss with Scott Tolzein as his backup. They have worked on their defence, but this is still a team too dependent on one banged-up player.

Prediction: 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars

When you look at their roster, it seems like the Jags have everything you would need to make the playoffs – except a QB. Blake Bortles remains the starter and a huge problem. Until this team gets a pivot that can actually lead, it won’t have success.

Prediction: 5-11


Kansas City Chiefs

Even though they spent their top pick selecting a QB for the future instead of addressing current concerns, the Chiefs remain a top team in the AFC. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt will get his chance to shine early on and Tyreek Hill is one of the game’s most electrifying playmakers.

Prediction: 10-6

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders receive a lot of hype, but there’s two things that need to be pointed out: They’ve had trouble beating playoff teams since Derek Carr came aboard and the defence remains a bit of a worry – even with Khalil Mack leading the way.

Prediction: 10-6* – wild-card spot

Los Angeles Chargers

It’ll be an interesting season for the Chargers, moving north from San Diego to a soccer stadium for the time being. As long as this team can stay remotely healthy – which it hasn’t for years – it has a chance to be really good.

Prediction: 8-8

Denver Broncos

The Broncos defence will remain scary as long as Von Miller is on it, but after cutting T.J. Ward, it could take a small step back. When you consider the offence doesn’t do much to help the team, that small step could spell disaster.

Prediction: 5-11

As for tonight’s opener, we’ll take the points and a team that’s capable of frustrating the Pats, at least for a little bit.

PICK: Kansas City +9 over NEW ENGLAND

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