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NFL Predictions: AFC Edition

Hello NFL fans,

In today’s read you’ll get to see some of my thoughts for the upcoming season. A team by team highlighted prediction on each AFC organization. Some of these predictions could be far-fetched, some might be considered safe. No matter what your view are on the topic just know that these are strictly my opinion and you should hold me, myself and I accountable. It is noted that I may be right, I may be wrong; maybe you agree with me or you don’t. Either way is completely fine and I encourage you to let me know your thoughts in the comment section! Enough of the chitter chatter, let’s get down to business.

The AFC East:

-Buffalo Bills: WR Zay Jones will lead all rookies in receiving yards.

  • The Buffalo Bills shipped Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams in a trade earlier this off-season. Anquan Boldin was a Bill for all of a few days and newly acquired Jordan Matthews is already hurt with a chip fracture. Zay Jones seems to be a biggest threat to produce in the receiving core this season. A lot to ask of a rookie, but he’ll deliver getting over the 1000-yard mark.

-Miami Dolphins: Jarvis Landry will have his worst statistical season yet, as teammate DeVante Parker has his best.

  • If Ryan Tannehill was still the quarterback this wouldn’t even be an issue for Landry. Now that Jay Cutler is at the helm, Landry is going to be the odd man out in Miami. With DeVante Parker emerging as Cutler’s new favorite toy and giving him high praise calling him a ‘faster’ Alshon Jeffery. Parker is poised to have a great year and fits Jay Cutler’s style of play more than Landry does. Don’t forget Kenny Stills is a deep threat that Cutler will take advantage of as well. Jarvis Landry’s reception and yard averages might drop a bit this season because Cutler won’t check down like Tannehill did.

-New England Patriots: No Julian Edelman, no problem. The Patriots still win their division without worry and clinch a first round bye in the play-offs.

  • The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are in free fall and clearly are reloading their teams. Trading away and cutting solid veteran players for future draft picks and hardly a competitive team to put onto the field this season. The Miami Dolphins are the Patriots biggest threat, which is humorous because their quarterback just came out of retirement a few weeks ago. This might be considered ‘safe’, but I’m rollin’ with it.

-New York Jets: The Jets will NOT go 0-16 despite popular belief.

  • The Jets had a yard sale this off-season and got rid of everything except that nice comfy couch your spouse hates. Yes, I’m talking about Matt Forte, but hey the first game of the regular season starts this week and his name is being brought up in trade rumors. Still a chance to get rid of that couch while it holds value and the stuffing in the cushions. Despite the obvious rebuild it’s hard to go winless, unless you’re the Detroit Lions, but the Jets do have some favorable opponents on their schedule and will get away with at least one victory this season.

The AFC North:

-Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco will continue to regress, resulting in the team wanting to draft a new signal caller.

  • Newsflash, Joe Flacco was and never will be an elite quarterback. With reoccurring injuries and less than impressive stat lines, Flacco may be on his way out of town sooner than most expect. John Harbaugh just got a contract extension and if Flacco fails to deliver a playoff appearance again, the Ravens coach might have to make a tough decision to move forward from the only ‘franchise’ starting quarterback he’s had as a head coach. The 2018 draft class is presumed to be stacked with quarterback talent and they could strike at the new future.

-Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals will finish in last place in the AFC North and Marvin Lewis will get fired.

  • It seems one of the longest tenured coaches has been on the hot seat for a few years now, but Marvin Lewis seems to just keep coming back year after year. Well, this will be the year the Cincinnati Bengals organization has enough and moves on. Zero Playoff wins since the early 90’s, the longest drought of any NFL team, consistent player issues, and a failure to keep good veteran players around among other things. The NFL is a business and I feel if Lewis has another poor season, the business aspect will cuts ties and find a new face of the franchise. The rest of the AFC North has upgraded and brought in new pieces, but the Bengals didn’t do anything to pop out, if anything they used their draft selections to replace a lot of missing pieces instead of building a foundation. Could be another long season and a top ten draft pick again.

-Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer will start and finish the season as the Browns quarterback while showing a promising future.

  • Could this be the long awaited franchise quarterback the Cleveland Browns have been waiting for? We’ll have a better understanding at the end of the season, but starting all 16 games is a good start in the right direction. DeShone Kizer is going to shock a lot of people this season and will put the Cleveland Browns on the map for the coming years. Get excited Brown fans, you’re about to be relevant in football!

-Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger will have a sensational final season riding off into the sunset with a Lombardi Trophy.

  • Ben Roethlisberger flirted with retirement this past off-season and many shrugged it off as nothing, but fact is it’s a reality. It seems as if the Pittsburgh Steelers know this as well. They’re trying to surround the team with good players bringing in talented players on both sides of the ball via the draft. They also recently brought in veterans Vance McDonald (TE) and Joe Haden (DB) to help add a mature presence in the locker room. If Roethlisberger is truly serious about retirement, he’ll make sure his final season is a memorable one. This offense has the talent to be the greatest show on turf 2.0 and will give the Steelers nation their seventh Lombardi trophy.

The AFC South:

-Houston Texans: Tom Savage will start more games than Deshaun Watson at quarterback, but Watson will finish the season as the starter.

  • Deshaun Watson is a better quarterback than Tom Savage, we all know this. However, Tom Savage will start the season as the number one guy and with the Texans defense being as dominate as they are, they’ll generate wins by themselves. Savage will take advantage and look better than what he really is on the field, but eventually the offense will disappoint while needing a spark. Insert the exciting first round rookie quarterback who is fresh off a National Championship in college a season ago. Watson will come in and get this team over the hump by leading them to another playoff appearance. Stay calm Houston, the Watson era will begin sometime this season.

-Indianapolis Colts: The Colts will finish with a sub .500 record for the first time in the Andrew Luck era.

  • Andrew Luck will be out a week, out up to six weeks. Luck looks healthy, but coaches haven’t seen him throw yet. Call me crazy, but I’m skeptical about the health of Andrew Luck and worried the team might push him to play earlier than he should. He played some time with an injury the past couple of seasons, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened again. The defense looks better on paper, but similar to Luck, the Colts have some lingering injuries in key positions that they might not be able to overcome. This team has a good roster, but the Colts have seemingly been in a downward spiral struggling to stay afloat the past few seasons and this will be the year it all comes crumbling down.

-Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles will actually show signs of progression on his way to a career year (no not in interceptions either).

  • Many of you could quite possibly click out of this page after that header, but hear me out. Pre-draft I said Leonard Fournette would make perfect sense and would help out the progression of Blake Bortles tremendously. I still stand by that statement despite the pre-season struggles and the benching to Chad Henne. If anything I think the benching was just what Bortles needed to clear his head and get back on the right track. The defense was upgraded, the offensive line has improved and the if Fournette plays like the fourth overall pick should, Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars will be a tough out. Don’t forget about the bundle of talent at the receiver position either. Bortles will be just fine.

-Tennessee Titans: Despite all the new weapons in the passing game, DeMarco Murray will still finish in the top 5 in rushing yards.

  • The Tennessee Titans have slowly attempted more passes with Marcus Mariota each season and with the newly acquired receiving threats the Titans look to continue that trend. That doesn’t necessarily mean the volume of rushing yards for DeMarco Murray will decrease. Last year the Titans receiver core was sub-par and Murray faced stacked boxes all year. Well, now the defenses will have to worry about legit receivers threats and Murray is going to see easier running lanes to run through. This offense is flirting with top ten production and it’ll all start with the legs of DeMarco Murray and the running game.

The AFC West:

-Denver Broncos: Offensive woes cripple team as they fall to the bottom of the AFC West.

  • We all saw the Trevor Siemian experiment last season and Paxton Lynch hasn’t looked good enough to beat Siemian out for the starting job. Cj Anderson, Jamaal Charles, and Devontae Booker struggle to stay healthy. The receivers can’t be game changers without a quarterback to consistently deliver them the ball and the offensive line is shaky at best. The defense is top notch caliber, but it can’t win you every game. The offense at some point needs to orchestrate a drive to score points and I don’t think they have enough fire power to be a worrisome group for defensive coordinators.

-Kansas City Chiefs: Kareem Hunt with accumulate more total yards than all other rookies and finish as a top ten running back.

  • Andy Reid has a history of turning running backs into stars. LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook, and Duce Staley are other notable names to add to that list. Last year Jamaal Charles went down with an injury and then Spencer Ware exploded onto the scene. This season Spencer Ware went down with an injury and now it’s next man up for Kareem Hunt. The Toledo product has the skill set Reid looks for in a running back and he’s going to shine in the offense. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce is really the only pass catching play-makers right now and Hunt will have many opportunities to showcase his receiving skills as well. Many “experts” may disagree with this assessment, but I think it’s an easy no-brainier. Kareem Hunt will eat a lot this season in Reid’s offense.

-Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers will earn a playoff bid their first year in Los Angeles.

  • Last season the Chargers were on the wrong side of the ball in ten of their eleven losses losing by an eight points or less. Did I mention they did that with a lot of backups and “next man up” players? The Chargers are unfortunately known for their injury history, but it doesn’t seem to matter as they stay competitive in games. Phillip Rivers and the much improved defense will be able to finish these close games this season on their way to a playoff appearance in their first year in Los Angeles. Get hyped LA; playoff football is coming to you for the first time since early 90’s.

-Oakland Raiders: Marshawn Lynch won’t make that much of a difference in the offense.

  • Depending on whom you ask Marshawn Lynch is either going to go back to his old ways and make defenses look silly on his way to the end zone or struggle to find a rhythm running the ball being an overrated addition to the team. I’m still on the fence on how he’ll play throughout the NFL season, but honestly I don’t think it’ll matter either way. Derek Carr is the catalyst in this offense and he’ll find a way to win with or without Lynch’s help. The defense still has many holes, so the Raiders will be in a lot shootouts this season. In Carr we trust, in Carr we’ll follow. The Raiders will ride or die by their franchise quarterback and I predict they’ll win more time than lose. Also if you compare Lynch to last year’s starter Latavius Murray, I can see Lynch getting a similar stat line. Murray rushed for 788 yards and had 12 touchdowns. I don’t see Lynch doing much better than that to really make a difference for this offense. Call me crazy.

That concludes today’s read about my AFC predictions. Come back this Thursday as I continue to the other conference, the NFC. I’ll give my predictions for each NFC team. Share your thoughts in the comment section. Like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter. We love to hear your feedback and want to get you the fans involved! Until next time, have a great day!

-Austin Thomas

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