The NFL Draft is over; we know the players, their stories and all the big names. From Johnny "Football" Manziel to number one pick Jadeveon Clowney and Michael Sam.
However the one unknown variable left is the most essential item in sports. Who Wins? Once again, this upcoming season leaves many fans scratching their heads trying to find out who is truly a contender and what teams are just a flash in the pan. All we can do as fans is wait and predict, so you know what? I'm going to do the same. Below is how I think the four AFC divisions will play out.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Cleveland Browns*
My reasoning: Cincinnati still has the best overall team here no matter how you slice it. The best offensive player (A.J. Green) and the best defense in the division hands down. If Dalton can maintain his flashes of great from last year expect big things from them. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are an absolute toss-up this year, they both added good talented defensive players to fill needs in the draft (Ryan Shazier and C.J. Mosley, respectively) and will look to improve on that side of the ball. But if the Ravens don't have Ray Rice or if he doesn't play well, the team will suffer badly. And finally Cleveland... This was tough; especially with the Browns drafting so well this year but Johnny Football and all, this team will struggle without their receiver Josh Gordon if he is suspended. The asterisk represents the Browns moving up to 3 if Gordon in fact does play.
2. Houston Texans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Tennessee Titans
My reasoning: The Colts are still going to remain champs this year simply because of one man, quarterback Andrew Luck. But the Texans will be much better than last year also due to one man, Jadeveon Clowney. If not for QB play, I would rank Houston as number one here but unfortunately having to choose your starting play-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick or a very raw Tom Savage doesn't help.
Jacksonville may surprise some people for two reasons, they actually made a true effort to improve in the draft and I believe Blake Bortles may be their answer at QB. Okay, maybe that second one is premature, but it's sad to see a team lose so much and not find any lifelines to get better. The Titans tried to improve in the draft but it just couldn't fill all of their needs. After losing key pieces like running back Chris Johnson, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and cornerback Alterraun Verner; it's hard to get to where they were. And being that they weren't too good with all of those guys, that's saying a lot.
2. New York Jets*
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Miami Dolphins
My Reasoning: Who doesn't think the Patriots are winning this division? Anyone? I'll wait... Anyways, it's clear that unless the Pats lose Tom Brady for the season again, this team will stay at the top. Oh wait! Not even that will work for sure because New England drafted their backup and QB of the future Jimmy Garopollo (who is pretty good by the way).
But seriously, this team added cornerbacks Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner... That's scary. The Jets have an asterisk by their name because I believe the only way that New York is second in this division is if Micheal Vick is their starting QB. Plain and simple. The Jets did add former Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker but they will need Vick to lead them, sorry Geno Smith. The Buffalo Bills have surprised me so far this offseason; they trade up and draft the most explosive offensive player in this year's draft, Sammy Watkins, and trade their former number one Stevie Johnson. If their sophomore quarterback E.J. Manuel stays healthy and plays a bit better than last year, this team will be a dark horse. Lastly, the Miami Dolphins will be in fourth. They weren't able to get better and without any dominance on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball, this team will have a rough year.
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Oakland Raiders
4. San Diego Chargers
My Reasoning: The Denver Broncos will reign supreme in this division as long as they own the best QB (and some would say player) in the NFL. Peyton Manning lost but gained new toys this offseason especially with the team acquiring former Steeler receiver Emmanuel Sanders. But it's defensively that changed tremendously with the addition of Demarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward. Not to mention cornerback Bradley Roby from the draft.
Kansas City will be runner-ups here with their dangerous defense including Tamba Hali and Eric Berry but I'm still not sold on their offense, especially if they lose star running back Jamaal Charles to injury.
I bet you saw this list and said "He's crazy... The Raiders?" That's right if Matt Schaub plays how I know he can (which is pretty good), than he will give this team the best QB they have had in years. Plus with all of the players they added this year such as running back Maurice Jones-Drew and linebackers Lamarr Woodley and Khalil Mack; Oakland looks pretty good just not good enough to beat Kansas and Denver. San Diego is the last team on this list and for good reason; QB Philip Rivers has been inconsistent from year to year. Since 2011, Rivers had a 4,000 yard season followed by a 3,000 yard season followed by another 4,000 yarder. So what am I expecting this year? A good but not as good as last year Charger team.
That's about it for my preview of the AFC next up to look at NFC (or as many would say, the "better" conference). Stay tuned to GiveMeSport for more NFL News.
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