The AFC is and has been the premier Conference in the NFL the last few years despite losing last year the AFC has won 8 of the last 11 Superbowl's. Much of the same will occur this year as once again the AFC will field some of the most talented teams in the NFL.
Here is how it is going to shape up
AFC EAST Champs
New England Patriots -Prediction: 14-2 Coming off of a near perfect season where they set all kinds of offensive records the Patriots are looking to come back and do much of the same. Last year the Pats were first in the NFL in points scored, yards, passing yards and touchdowns. Having arguably one of the best passing attacks of all-time the Patriots will roll over the easiest division in the AFC. Although each team in the division is getting stronger the Patriots are just way too talented to lose this division this year. The Defense will be a little old but still effective. There was some questions with the age of there linebackers but answered they seemed to have answered that nicely by adding Jerod Mayo and Shawn Crable in the draft.
AFC WEST Champs
San Diego Chargers-Prediction: 13-3 The Chargers will run onto the field each week with what seems like a pro bowler at every position. The chargers have arguably the best all around player in the league in LT as well as one of the best defenses that ranked 5th in points allowed last season. Also now with Chris Chambers having a full off-season to work with Philip Rivers and the emergence of a soon to be star in Vincent Jackson the Chargers passing game will be more than Gates and LT. The Chargers should rap up the AFC West crown by week 13 with the Broncos being the only team able to contend with them in the division.
AFC NORTH Champs
Pittsburgh Steelers-Prediction: 10-6 The Steelers will have to play extremely tough road games against the Eagles, Jaguars and Patriots this year however, i think that they will still edge the Cleveland Browns for the AFC North crown once again. The Browns will visit the Steelers on Dec. 28th which will seemingly be a match-up to name the champion; victory going to home team. Defense wins championships and the Steelers return the no. 1 rated defense from a year ago. They also improved the offense from a year ago by drafting Rashard Mendenhall to complement Willie Parker and A tall receiver in Limas Sweed. The Steelers still have some of the veteran pieces left over from their 2005 Superbowl run in Ben Rothleisberger, Hines Ward, Willie Parker and Troy Polamalu know what it takes to win and will lead them this year to the playoffs.
AFC SOUTH Champs
Jacksonville Jaguars-Prediction: 12-4 Yep that's right, for the first time in 5 years someone other than the Indianapolis Colts will win the AFC South. The Jacksonville Jaguars are an extremely tough team that finally showed signs of emergence last year. Now that David Garrard finished his first full season as a starting quarterback i believe he is ready to take the next step. He was extremely effective with an 18/3 td/int and now he has legitimate no. 1 wide receiver in Jerry Porter. Also the Jaguars got lucky with their scheduling as they don't have to play the Patriots, Chargers or Cowboys. There is a key departure in Marcus Stroud however the Jaguars extremely physical style of play will push them to a division crown.
Indianapolis Colts-Prediction: 11-5 Even know they were edged by the Jags they still have a very solid team with a great group of core players if they can stay healthy (Marvin Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders). Indianapolis still ranked 5th in total offense and 3rd in total defense last year so don't think that i don't believe the Colts are a bad team. They have a little tougher schedule than the Jags having to play some tough road games at the Packers, Steelers and Chargers. Look out for the Colts in the Playoffs as they will be battle tested playing in a tough division and having a guy named Peyton Manning on their team.
Cleveland Browns-10-6 Yes finally after going through the selling of their team and years and years of sub-par teams there is going to be playoff football for the city of Cleveland and they certainly deserve it. Derek Anderson will not be a one year wonder as he has a great talent in Braylon Edwards and now with the addition of Donte Stallworth the Browns Offense will be potent. Ranking 8th in both total offense and points scored the Browns will most likely outscore alot of theiropponents. Defense is the question and will be the reason they wont make it past the first round but hey, Rome wasn't built in one day.
Just Missing Out:
And finally the team who will represent the AFC in Superbowl XLII...
2009 AFC CHAMPION
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: They have taken steps the last two years barely falling to the Patriots both times. This year they will break through as LT will be hungry and will carry his team to the big game.