Friday, September 09, 2011

NFL 2011 Preview: AFC

I have no team left to root for in the AFC now that Manning is likely out for the season. I used to be a KC fan, especially when St. Louis didn't have a team, so I still have some residual affinity for the Chiefs, although it's unlikely they will make it back to the playoffs this season. Here are my picks for divisions and playoffs:

AFC East
1. New York Jets (12-4)
2. New England Patriots (11-5)
3. Miami Dolphins (8-8)
4. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Third time's the charm for Gang Green, while an aging offense and a defense lacking a serious pass relegates the Pats to wild card status. Miami and Buffalo are likely to remain mired in the doldrums of teams without a legit NFL QB.

AFC North
1. Baltimore (11-5)
2. Pittsburgh (10-6)
3. Cleveland (5-11)
4. Cincinnati (1-15)

Come to think of it, maybe Joe Flacco will be my new man-crush; he's going to have a Pro Bowl season and lead the Ravens deep into the playoffs. The Steelers will do well enough to avoid the Superbowl loser curse of missing the playoffs, but no more than that. Cleveland doesn't have a QB, and even though Cincy's likely to win the Andrew Luck Lottery Sweepstakes, they're too stupid to draft him.

AFC South
1. Houston (10-6)
2. Indianapolis (9-7)
3. Tennessee (7-9)
4. Jacksonville (4-12)

Houston wins this now-weak division by default. Kerry Collins will do okay in Indy, but that team has serious problems on both sides of the ball that Manning would have been able to disguise; Collins won't. Unfortunately, Jim Caldwell is unlikely to be fired (even though he's a terrible HC) just because they have the built-in "Peyton was hurt" excuse.

AFC West
1. San Diego (11-5)
2. Kansas City (9-7)
3. Oakland (8-8)
4. Denver (6-10)

I'm not drinking the San Diego Kool-Aid as long as Norv Turner's still the HC, but they have too much talent not to win this division. I hope I'm wrong about KC, but I don't know how much talent they have in key positions.

AFC Playoffs
1. New York Jets
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. San Diego Chargers
4. Houston Texans
5. New England Patriots
6. Pittsburgh Steelers

Wild Card
San Diego over Pittsburgh
New England over Houston

Divisional Playoffs
NY Jets over Houston
Baltimore over New England

AFC Championship
NY Jets over Baltimore

Green Bay Packers over New York Jets

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