With NFL training camps opening today, and the season right around the corner, lets evaluate
some teams that are being underestimated by the media, and that may take the league by storm,
division by division.
In the AFC North, you have the Bengals, Browns, Ravens and
Steelers. The Browns improved in the offseason, however they are too young to make a run at
the division. The Ravens were an 8 win team last year, and have not made up any ground in the
offseason. The Steelers are in disarray, already thinking about the prospect of a backfield without
Leveon Bell, paving the way for the Bengals, and my offensive rookie of the year sleeper Joe
Mixon, to reclaim the division title after a one year hiatus.
Nobody is bold enough to pick against the new look Patriots, one of
the best teams ever assembled, in the AFC East. The Jets are tanking for Quartererback Sam
Darnold, and the Bills don’t have the talent to push for a playoff spot. The Dolphins, running
behind Jay Ajayi, should have a shot at 10 wins and a wild card spot if they stick with their
identity which they discovered in the middle of last season.
The AFC South was one of the weakest divisions in football last
year, and this year it is wide open. The Titans should have a shot at the division title if they run
behind Demarco Murray. The Colts really struggled last year, and their only hope would be to
see Andrew Luck return to form and become one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. The Texans
will struggle early, being 3-5 at the midpoint of the season before recovering to be an 8 win
team. However, that will not be good enough to beat the Jaguars, who will ride their new and
improved defense to a 5-1 record in the division and 9 total wins.
In the AFC West, the best division in football, it is possible that there are 4 playoff caliber teams
in the division. The Chargers, a potential playoff team in another division, will finish with 7
wins, and only 2 in the division. The Broncos will be 3-3 in the division, riding Von Miller and
his defense to 10 wins, and a battle for the second wild card spot with the Dolphins. The battle
for the division will be fierce, but the Oakland Raiders, with a healthy Derrick Carr will prove
too much to handle for the Kansas City Chiefs. Both teams will finish with over 11 wins,
however they will beat up on each other enough that the Patriots are gifted the first seed, and the
Raiders the second. The more experienced Raiders should set up a blockbuster showdown with
the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.