For months now I have read article after article about the fall of my beloved Steelers and how they will NOT make the playoffs for a second straight year. I am finally ready to fight back with my own conclusions on how the AFC will pan out this year which includes the Steelers making the playoffs.
As we all know 6 AFC teams will make the dance. What I will do is breakdown each division and each team I believe will make the final 6.
Let’s start with the AFC East shall we:
Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots
Bills- I think the majority of us would agree not to expect much from the Bills this year. There are a lot of questions at QB amongst other things. Look for them to finish around 4-11.
Patriots- will be an interesting team to follow. One of this year’s toughest schedules, Brady in contract limbo, young but still raw Defense, and don’t get me started on that RB committee. There are reports that Welker is fine but unless he is the “Bionic Man” I look for his production to drop off a bit. Moss is in a contract year but is that good or bad? He is getting up there in age and work ethic has never been his strong suit. Nevertheless I predict the Patriots will win the division at 10-6.
Dolphins- this team is a real mystery. Brandon Marshall is a big addition but can he put them over the top? How is his hip? The Dolphins will field a pair of aging RB’s and have many questions on Defense which gives me the feeling of a 9-7 team and missing the playoffs.
Jets- have a lot of hype on this team with many different personalities. I am betting Revis is out at least half the season and the Defense will regress a bit. Tomlinson is a downgrade from Jones so Sanchez will be counted on more this year. That spells a couple losses in itself. I predict 9-7 again and again sneaking into the playoffs.
Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Browns
Browns- Let’s get this team out of the way. The growing pains will continue but they do improve this year and catch a few teams sleeping. 5-11
Ravens- They are without a doubt the arch enemy of my Steelers but I can appreciate a good team when I see them. Baltimore has just that this year and hungry to go deeper into the playoffs this year. The offense is much improved with Stallworth & Boldin. The success of the Ravens I believe rests on Flacco’s shoulders. The days of the Defense carrying this team are over. The secondary is a mess and is the main reason they were ousted in last year’s run. I believe Baltimore is up to the task and will march to a Division title and a 12-4 record. (That hurt me to type it)
Steelers- Yes I know!!!! Ben Roethlisberger will be out FOUR games to start the season however there is no factual argument you can give me that would sway me to believe they still can’t start the year at least 3-1. Last year Pittsburgh finished 9-7 without their best Defensive player (Polomalu) and their highly underrated DE Aaron Smith. All seven losses last year were by single digits. The Steelers will return all their starters from a year ago and have added a few key players in Larry Foote and McFadden. Both will be heavy contributors this year. Randel El & Arnez Battle will add much need depth at WR. The Special Teams couldn’t be worse this year than last. A new coach was hired and I expect a big turnaround in this area. Roethlisberger is in the best shape of his life and has something to prove. The Defense will once again have a chip on its shoulders which is never good for their opposition so look out!! I am predicting an 11-5 record and taking the second wildcard playoff spot.
Bengals- This team will get more headlines than the Jets. T.O. will hurt this team more than help it. He was already acting like a jack-ass in their first preseason game. I don’t believe in Carson Palmer anymore as he has certainly under achieved the last few years. Cedric Benson is a stud but can he take the pounding all season again? The Bengals will surprise no one this year and have a 1st place schedule for their efforts last season. The Bengals will finish 8-8 this year and only because of their good young defense. Marvin Lewis will be shown the door as well.
Titans, Colts, Jaguars, Texans
Texans- The Texans as you all know have an explosive offense but will Andre Johnson’s contract be an issue this year? Will the running game reemerge? Matt Cushing missing four games doesn’t help either so I expect much of the same from the Texans. They will go 9-7 and miss the playoffs by tie-breaker.
Colts- As long as Peyton Manning is running the Offense count on 11 wins and lock them into the Division title.
Jaguars- You have to feel for this team as they seem to have no direction at this point. A poor draft this year put the cherry on top. It’s a shame that they will waste Jones-Drew to nothing before they get back on track. 5-11
Titans- Free Agency and age have killed their Defense in a hurry. CJ will sparkle on Offense again and Young will do his part but it will not be enough. 8-8
Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers
Broncos- I have no idea what is going on in Denver but I don’t like it. Tim Tebow? Wide Receiver is too unsettled and injuries to their Running Back and best Defender will be too much for Coach Daniels to handle. 7-9
Chiefs- I like the Chiefs and the direction they are going. Thomas Jones was a good pick-up to compliment Jamal Charles. The Offense should be much improved and the Defense will show promise. I think it’s reasonable for them to reach an 8-8 record.
Raiders- Jason Campbell will provide better stability at QB but he is far from a superstar. I think the Raiders running game improves and this team will be dangerous at times. 7-9
Chargers- Still the best team in this division. Fresh set of legs running the ball, Rivers slinging the ball to Gates puts them in the playoffs yet again. 11-5
In conclusion the six teams that will battle after the regular season are: Patriots, Colts, Chargers, Ravens, Steelers, and Jets.
I am knew to this writing thing and admit I am not good but thought we could have some fun with my predictions. Everyone can now take their shots at me. Should be an interesting season to say the least! “Are you ready for some football?”