Preseason games come to an end after this week. Injuries have been plentiful. Roster trimming has been in full force. The NFL season is well within reach. There has been plenty of promise as well as plenty of negative and the unexpected.
Well, the only negative really is that up here in New England, winter is right around the corner. But that's besides the point.
The NFL regular season begins next week and we're all excited. The reason to use the phrase "Any Given Sunday", will be upon us. Fantasy drafts galore. It's an amazing time of the year. There will be a little bit of everything this season. Plenty have team's improved on both sides of the ball, making most divisions around the league difficult to win, hands down. To me, there is absolutely nothing better then divisional opponents beating on each other in a tight division race (outside of our favorite teams, obviously).
In this two-piece series we are going to take a look at how the AFC pan's out through the regular season. (We can discuss playoff's another day). No need to show the record's. No need to go in depth. Let's not beat around the bush. Let's dive right in. I want your feedback.
AFC East: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets
Division Winner: New England Patriots
The Patriots had a better offseason then anyone else in the division. A division they have won almost every year since the beginning of the new millennium. The Pats won their division last year and made it all the way to the AFC Championship game last winter with a subpar offense and defense. Improving both sides of the ball on my makes them more of a lock to win the division. Buffalo, Miami, and New York all improved with additions like Sammy Watkins, Jack Amaro, Mike Vick, and returning player's like Mike Wallace, EJ Manuel, and Muhammed Wilkerson. But with New England getting Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Dobson, Vince Wilfork, and Jerod Mayo returning from injuries and signing player's like Brandon Browner, Brandon LaFell, and Darrelle Revis, this makes New England even more likely to take the division. But this is mostly predicated on staying healthy.
AFC South: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans
Division Winner: Indianapolis Colts
Potentially the weakest division in the AFC, Indianapolis should have no problem dismantling the divisional opponents. Tennessee stand the Colts biggest threat though one could wonder how. Another year of Andrew Luck on an offense that was already really, really good to begin with, will only become better. Reggie Wayne returned from a knee injury, though reports have him flying around the field, Trent Richardson is another year in their offense only adds to an already potent offense. Colts win by a landslide.
AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers
Division Winner: Denver Broncos
No one in this division got better then the Broncos. Adding an elite cornerback in Aqib Talib, an outside pass rusher to pair with Von Miller in DeMarcus Ware, also adding some punch to an already great offense with Emanuel Sanders. Losing WR Eric Decker via free agency hurts a little but with a little time Sanders will be valuable. Returning wide outs Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Andre Caldwell already provide great offense with Peyton Manning. Let's not forget tight end Julius Thomas. San Diego poses an okay threat but did little to solidify themselves other then a potential wild card team. Kansas City still has a lot to prove even with last year's playoff berth. I expect Denver to run away with the division.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
Division Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
This is the ugliest division in the AFC, in the best of ways. This division tends to beat on each other year in and year out regardless of record. Cincinnati will win a tight race, but it won't be pretty. On paper, Cincinnati has the most talent on its roster but Baltimore and Pittsburgh are no slouch. They will be there until the end, possibly resulting in a wild card berth. If Cleveland can find an identity and pray to the Josh Gordon God's, they could be a sleeper in the division, but more then likely they will tote a sub .500 record once again.
Wild Card: San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Ravens
So there you have it. My AFC looks as such. Obviously nothing is a guarantee in the NFL, but this is something fun and something to look forward to. Look for the NFC playoff picture in the near future and do give your input.