Indianapolis Colts (8-8), New York Jets (8-8), Denver Broncos (7-9)
"The Indianapolis Colts finish the 2011 season at 8-8." A bold statement indeed.
Peyton Manning and the neck surgery he has undergone may make him weaker than in past years. Quarterbacks need to use their neck to scan downfield for receivers, fool the defense in what receiver he is looking at, and when handing the ball off to the running back, he needs to turn his head and make sure the ball gets in the running back's hands. Those abilities, to me, are important for a quarterback, and to have those somewhat "crippled" it may be safe to say that the Colts might not do as well as in the past five to ten years.
The New York Jets finish 8-8 and 2nd place in the AFC East.
They have plenty of star power on their team; but all that star power may be too much to handle for the Jets and Rex Ryan. They are a good team, no doubt, with QB Mark Sanchez, WR Santonio Holmes, CB Darelle Revis, newly acquired WR Plaxico Burress, and plenty other veterans. I just see the Jets making a good run, but falling just short of the playoffs.
The Denver Broncos finish 7-9 and 2nd place in the AFC West.
This Broncos team could have what it takes to have a little jump in wins after last season. They also have a bit of star power, but need to use their stars effectively. I'm talking about WR Brandon Lloyd, CB Champ Bailey, S Brian Dawkins, and even QB Kyle Orton. If new head coach John Fox can get this team straightened out, they can be significantly better than they were last season.