Who will come out on top in the AFC this year?
This is my second installment of discussing predictions for the season-ending standings. In the first installment I talked about the NFC, and today we talk about the AFC season-ending standings and playoff predictions. Each divisional prediction will include a bold prediction for that division and at the end, I will include my final score of the Super Bowl.
Bold prediction: Chris Hogan will finish as a top 10 fantasy WR.
This year it has been well documented how weak Tom Brady supporting cast is, but as the Patriots have
proven time and time again, the players may change annually but as long as there is Brady and Belichick are in New England the Patriots own the AFC East and likely the AFC itself as has been the case (made the last 3 out of the 4 super bowls). The jets with Sam Darnold under center will finish better than 5-11 (last year with McCown). The Dolphins are still trying to identify what they are on offense with their “franchise QB” returning, and with no clear WR1. They will struggle to win 5 or 6 games, while the bills are in total rebuild mode, supporting easily the worst WR core, without outside of Kelvin Benjamin there is no one they can trust. With LeSean McCoy having a lawsuit hanging over his head, a suspension to him will just about take away any hope of competition they would have had in the first.
Bold Prediction: The Ravens WR core will finish with 3 players with at least 50 receptions (Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown)
Steelers have been to the playoffs 10 out of 14 of Ben Roethlisberger’s seasons he has been under center, it is a safe bet they will be in the playoffs this year as well with an offense that should compete for the best overall title. Even with Bell potentially not playing week 1 and rumor has it he may not show up till after week 10 (he is eligible to free agency as long as he reports by then), I see no reason this offense cannot be potent with James Connor handling the RB responsibilities. Remember a guy named DeAngelo Williams, who was a top 5 RB1 in fantasy when Bell was not able to start. The Bengals had a historically bad start to their season in 2017, but with an improved offensive line and a healthy Tyler Eifert, I expect the Bengals offense to bounce back in a big way. The Raven’s defense will keep them in games but inconsistent QB play will hurt this offense, and eventually may pave the way for Lamar Jackson to start potentially. With all the improvements the Browns have made on offense and the additions on defense they will be much more competitive than last year but looking at their schedule I find it hard to find 3 or 4 wins at best.
Bold Prediction: Corey Davis will have double-digit touchdowns
In the past 15 of the last 16 seasons, there has been a team that has gone from worst to first. That team will be the Texans this year. Losing DeShaun Watson was a major blow to the entire team, along with injuries on defense (J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus) which was a big factor as to why they finished 4-12 in 2017. With their QB and defense back healthy, this team is going to do a complete 180 and finish atop the division. The Jaguars are no different from last year.
An elite defense and an offense dictated by their running game and a QB who will manage the game behind an average receiving core, they will finish the season with a wild-card spot. The Titans season will be dictated by how well Marcus Mariota plays this year. This team will either finish sub .500 or at best 9-7 based on how well he performs, but it will not be enough to overtake the Texans and Jaguars in this division. The Colts with one of the worst defenses and offensive lines in the league will make it difficult for them to stay competitive in most games, expect Luck to throw it a ton this year and to be hit just as much as well. One would think the Colts would learn from their past and improve the offensive line. I guess losing your franchise QB for over a year was not enough of a hard lesson learned.
Bold Prediction: Amari Cooper will finish with 100 receptions.
Even though the Chargers annual battle with injuries is in full swing yet again, I see no reason why they cannot win this division, with the chiefs being their biggest rival. I think Mahomes will have growing pains with his first full season at QB. The Raiders under new Head Coach, Jon Gruden, will be competitive but they have a lot of work to do to be relevant in the AFC West. Losing Mack will be something they are going to regret for years to come. Broncos had a down year last year on both sides of the ball but a lot of that had to do with the offense not having a lot of time of possession which kept the defense on the field longer. Even with an upgrade at QB, I think this offense has a few years to go before they can make noise in this division, mainly at QB. I do not think Keenum is the answer.
(6) Jaguars 30-28 over (3) Texans
(4) Chargers 27-20 over (5) Bengals
(1) Patriots 23-20 over (6) Jaguars
(2) Steelers 33-27 over (4) Chargers
AFC Championship Game
(1) Patriots 26-20 over (2) Steelers
Super Bowl Prediction
(1) Patriots 21-17 over (5) Vikings
Do you agree with our AFC and Super Bowl predictions? How do you think things will turn out? Be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments below!