Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Road to the Superbowl (AFC)

Doesn't seem that long ago that I was staying up until the early hours of the morning to watch the New York Giants triumphant over the popular favourites the New England Patriots.
But, another big season is upon us again and with what I've read about the pre-season games that this season it will be a more open season that it has been for a while.
In my first official post on this blog, I will be giving an overview of how I believe each team will do. First up: The AFC!

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills:
The Bills will want to forget the disappointment of their 4-12 season last year and will hope to make a significant improvement. One person to help the Bill's defence will be new DE Mario Williams, his addition to the team will hopefully stop the opponents run and prevent scoring. Their free-agent spree especially on their lack-lustre defence will help them alot this year, but as it's relatively new team - I'd give it another year or so before we see a team of Superbowl-calibre, the inconcsistency of Ryan Fitzpatrick during this pre-season will be of worry to the coach.
My prediction ~ 7-9 (3rd in AFC East)

Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins are in re-development mode right now, creating a strong team around their star player Ryan Tannehill. Miami won't be in contention, in my opinion for the post-season tournament but it will be a learning curve for the team and coaches to see the direction they're going in and what to work on more to become a contender for the Superbowl in the future.
My prediction ~ 4-12 (4th in AFC East)

New England Patriots:
The Patriots are guaranteed contenders once again for the post-season and potential Superbowl finalists once again. Tom Brady and his fellow Patriots have a re-shaped defence from last year, but from what I've seen from the highlights in their games they look strong and are destined for another long run this coming season. The Patriots will be the class of the AFC in my opinion, the offensive line concerns will quickly disappear as they will show what they're made of.
My prediction  ~ 14-2 (1st in AFC East)

New York Jets:
The Jets have had a bad start from pre-season losing all 4 games against stiff competition. In my opinion, the poor pre-season won't affect their run this year, they have a relatively mellow schedule with several games that will be difficult to judge who will win. The main concern for the Jets this year, as they struggled to score big in their pre-season, the defense is not as strong as it was to support the lack-lustre offense it almost doesn't matter who the QB. They may be the surprise team this year.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (2nd in AFC East)

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens:
The Ravens I see this year that they'll be a contender for another post-season run again, with legend Ray Lewis & upcoming stars Ray Rice & Joe Flacco, their offensive line is one of strongest in the league. Alongwith a strong defensive line, they will cause all kinds of problems for their oppositions QB throughout the season, which will no doubt work in their favour rushing their offense to release the ball quickly.
My prediction ~ 12-4 ( 1st in AFC North)

Cincinnati Bengals:
The Bengals looked an impressive team last year, and I think they were unlucky not to get a post-season berth, but with a strengthened team again this year, they can stand a chance, depending on how they perform in the big games of their season, for example, vs Ravens, Giants & Eagles will make the difference between a play off place and failure. Last years rookies Andy Dalton & AJ Green will be looking to improve on their great rookie seasons last year to help boost the Bengals chances this year.
My prediction ~ 9-7 ( 3rd in AFC North)

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns are the clear underdogs in this division, and in my opinion don't stand a chance of getting near a play off place with such stiff competition this year. Looking back on last year, the Browns were the worst team in my opinion in the NFL and need to find a way this year to right that wrong by improving significantly. However, with a tough schedule, it does look unlikely - I do hope to see a couple of upsets to show their worth.
My prediction ~ 2-14 ( 4th in AFC North)

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Ben Roethlisberger will be looked at to lead the Steelers again to another strong season run this year, however the clear problem will be the aging defensive line - if they can't keep clear of any injuries then Dick Lebleu will have some problems to overcome throughout the season and the Steelers will struggle to keep opponents from scoring. The Steelers' offensive line will help rack up alot of points p/game if Todd Haley is on his game throughout the season and expect them to be tough to beat if they reach the playoffs and manage to top their division.
My prediction ~ 10-6 ( 2nd in AFC North)

AFC South:

Houston Texans:
The Texans looked very impressive last season, and I don't see why (with the squad they've got) they can't repeat that same feat again this season. They face a tough schedule this year though, facing the likes of Green Bay, New England & Baltimore, but if their attacking defensive strategy works effectively, they could put up a decent fight at New England and produce a strong season performance. Their exciting combinations in both Attack & Defence do pose to be a new threat to the NFL teams.
My prediction ~ 13-3 (1st in AFC South)

Indianapolis Colts:
Getting first pick of the Draft this year has paid dividends for the Colts, new QB Andrew Luck looks the real deal from pre-season highlights and will hope to show his prowess by helping the Colts produce a better overall season performance compared to last year. I'm hoping for the Colts sake, that they look and perform competitively right from the beginning if they're to stand a chance to catch the likes of the Texans for a top seed berth. In my opinion, the Colts will improve in years to come, this season is just the beginning..
My prediction ~ 5-11 ( 3rd in AFC South)

Jacksonville Jaguars:
The Jaguars will depend on Gabbert's surroundings. First off, their new receiver, Justin Blackmon has to shine in the passing game if they're to be a threat to their opposition and make consistent gains. Secondly, will be Jones-Drew behind Gabbert to help protect him from the sacks to help carry the offense forward. The team has showed promise in the pre-season, but bringing that into the regular season games will be difficult with the line up of opponents that they have. Have to wait and see which Jaguars team will turn up on the day.
My prediction ~ 4-12 ( 4th in AFC South)

Tennessee Titans:
Not much has been said about the Titans this pre-season, however from the results it shows that their defencse is promising for the forthcoming season after losing to Seattle. Chris Johnson will be the star player in my opinion for the team, as the new QB Jake Locker will be looking to cement his position in the team, the inconsistency of the wide receivers, could be the main issue for the team. I do still see the Titans coming through for a potential play off shot.
My prediction ~ 7-9 (2nd in AFC South)

AFC West:

Denver Broncos:
The Broncos have possibly the toughest start to the season than any other team in the NFL, and if they can survive that and get as much as they can from the main games then their season will look promising. It will depend on Peyton Manning and how well he is adapting to becoming a Bronco, but throughout the season the Broncos should be able to grab a play off berth and potentially, division champions like last year.
My prediction ~ 8-8 (2nd in AFC West)

Kansas City Chiefs:
After a disappointing 2011 campaign, Kansas City have looked good in the pre-season and with their current team set-up, they look favourites for a play off berth in this division. Last year, they hindered on injury-prone defensive players, but now they have returned and look back to their best, it will provide a decent threat to their opposition throughout the season.
My prediction ~ 9-7 (1st in AFC West)

Oakland Raiders:
After consecutive 8-8 seasons, the Raiders offense looks very dangerous this season if RB Darren McFadden can stay healthy for the 16 games. The defence is more of a worry. A unit that ranked fourth last in the entire league in 2011 has since lost defensive end Kamerion Wimbley and cornerback Stanford Routt via free agency. I personally don't see them getting through to the play-offs, but it is a close-knit division so we can expect a couple of surprises.
My prediction ~ 7-9 ( 3rd in AFC West)

San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers have not been to the play-offs since 2009 and last season wasted a 4-1 start with a six-game losing streak during October and November. The offense is an area of concern after the injury-enforced retirements of Marcus McNeill and Kris Dielman, while running back Ryan Mathews broke his clavicle on the first carry of pre-season to live up to his fragile reputation. The once-feared defence was ranked 16th in the league last season but has been restocked through the draft. They'll be the underdogs in the division, but they can use that to their advantage as long as the rest of their roster stays healthy.
My prediction ~ 6-10 (4th in AFC West)