Monday, 3 September 2007

NFL Week: AFC Predictions

As we continue with NFL Week here on Complete Sports, it's time to give my predictions for the AFC Standings.

1. New England Patriots: 12-4
The Patriots went 12-4 last year, and I see a similar result this year. They upgraded some key positions, but with Richard Seymour starting the year on the PUP list, and some health concerns from Maroney, I think they will repeat last year's record. But they'll also be a lot more dangerous in the playoffs.
2. Buffalo Bills: 8-8
I really like what the Bills are doing. They upgraded their offensive line, which should help a rapidly improving JP Losman. It will also help rookie RB Marshawn Lynch, who will contribute right away. I don't think they're a playoff team yet in the very strong AFC, but if they get a couple of breaks they will be right in the middle of things.
3. New York Jets: 7-9
They had a great start to the reign of Mangini, but I see a little step back this year. Pennington has struggled a bit this preseason (for what it's worth), and there are some holes in the defense. I think they were a little over their heads last year at 10-6, and I see a little step back here.
4. Miami Dolphins: 6-10
I liked the hiring of Cam Cameron, but they're not ready to compete. Trent Green is old, the O-Line isn't that good, and Ronnie Brown has looked decidedly mediocre. I think it will be a long season in Miami.

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6
I like the Steelers a little bit more than most people this year. For one, I love Mike Tomlin and think he will be a great head coach. Two, I like their talent offensively. They will open things up a little more offensively, and Roethlisberger has some nice weapons in Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes (a fantasy sleeper). Plus, there's always Willie Parker. With Tomlin taking care of the defense and a more explosive offense, I like the Steelers.
2. Baltimore Ravens: 10-6*
The Ravens will again be contenders, but they do have a tough schedule. They play San Diego, New England, and Indianapolis back to back to back in one stretch, as well as tough division foes in Pittsburgh and Cincy. As McNair slowly starts to decline a little more, I think the Ravens will not be as good as last year, but still a solid playoff team.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8
The Bengals will again be talented offensively, but there are question marks. They'll be feeling the after effects of all of the arrests, etc. which will deplete the talent somewhat. Still, they'll have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, which gives them a chance every week. But I think they'll be right back where they were last year.
4. Cleveland Browns: 4-12
The QB situation is a mess, the coach is looking like a lame duck, and it could be another long season in Cleveland.

1. Indianapolis Colts: 12-4
The Colts still might be the best offensive team in football, but the defense has some problems. Last year, if you'll remember, they could not stop the run during the regular season. Then, for some reason, they were solid in the playoffs. I'll take the larger sample size. Still, they'll be one of the top contenders as usual.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: 9-7
They have one of the best and most physical defenses in the NFL, but there again could be ups and downs because of the QB situation. Then again, with Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, they might not need to throw the ball. I expect them to be right in the middle of the playoff discussion, but ultimately fall a little short. Once again.
3. Tennessee Titans: 6-10
The Titans were a great story at 8-8 last year, but they were playing way over their heads. They got outscored by 76 points last year, which is a bit astounding since they managed to have a .500 record. They didn't really do much to improve, which leaves me to think they'll regress a bit to what they probably should have been last year.
4. Houston Texans: 5-11
I'm really not sure what to expect from the Texans this year. They've toiled in obscurity for so long... they finally have a new QB, but I'm not sure how big of a difference that will make this year.

1. Denver Broncos: 12-4
I really like the Broncos this year. I'm a huge Jay Cutler guy, so I think the offense will be a lot better with him at the helm. He'll be able to get the ball downfield to Javon Walker, who I think will have a really good year. They've also got a decent RB this year in Travis Henry, which should make the offense very good. Defensively, they add Dre' Bly and Simeon Rice to an already solid unit.
2. San Diego Chargers: 12-4*
I think the Chargers take a slight step back from 14-2, but they're still extremely talented. I'm not huge on Norv Turner as a head coach, but the offense shouldn't miss a beat with him in charge. If Phillip Rivers takes the next step, the offense could become unstoppable. Look for Vincent Jackson to add another threat in the passing game.
3. Oakland Raiders: 5-11
They quietly had a very good defense last year, which means I think they could surprise some people with a better offense (it can't be any worse). Culpepper looks like an upgrade over what they had last year, and I think LaMont Jordan will bounce back. The Raiders aren't going to be making the playoffs, but I think they'll be a tough club to beat.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-12
Not such a big fan of the Chiefs this year. Damon Huard is really old, but he has to be the guy. I have grave concerns about Brodie Croyle ever being a good QB in the NFL. The bread and butter last year was the running game, but LJ might be a little worn down, and the O-Line is not as good as was it has been the past few years. I think the Chiefs take a big step back here.

What are your thoughts? Which predictions do you disagree with?

Up tomorrow: NFC Predictions.