AFC East W-L
1. New England 13-3 There is no surprise about the New England Patriots this season. They are back and ready for another Super Bowl run. QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker, and TE Rob Gronkowski will look to lead an explosive offense again this season. The defense should be much improved this season, after ranking 31st in the league last season. It will be another solid season for the Patriots as they will have another thirteen win season.
2. Buffalo 9-7 Buffalo started the 2011 season off to an impressive 5-2 start, then the Bills dropped their next 8 of 9 games due to injuries. The Bills defense will be solid this season with the addition of DE Mario Williams. Also, if QB Ryan Fitzpatrick can stay healthy, the Bills could make their first playoff appearance since 1999.
3. N.Y. Jets 9-7 Sanchez or Tebow? As of this point, neither have thrown a single touchdown pass in the pre-season. Once again, the Jets are going to have to run the ball the whole season with Shonn Greene. The defense will be heavily relied on with CB Darrelle Revis and LB Aaron Maybin. Head Coach Rex Ryan and his Jets will be in the playoff hunt again this season. The real question for the Jets this season is if Antonio Cromartie has gained two children in the off-season for a total of fourteen?
4. Miami 7-9 The Dolphins are going to struggle again this season with new Head Coach Joe Philbin. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill looks promising for the future of the franchise though, and there will be much improvement in the running game with the leadership of Reggie Bush. The Dolphins will be a seven win team this season.
AFC North W-L
1. Baltimore 10-6 The Ravens will battle it out with the Steelers again for the AFC North Division. The Ravens will rely heavily on RB Ray Rice, who rushed for 1,364 yards and 15 total touchdowns last season. QB Joe Flacco, who is always questioned on his quarterbacking ability, will again be a valuable part of the Raven offense. Once again, the Raven defense will be one of the best in the NFL if Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can stay healthy.
2. Pittsburgh 10-6 In a tie-breaker scenario, the Ravens will get the nod as the winner of the AFC North. The Steeler offense will be one of the best in the league with Ben Roethlisberger throwing to wide outs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, who both recorded 1,000 receiving yards last season. The play of RB Rashard Mendenhall will also be key in the offense being successful. The Steeler defense is stacked again, and will be the best in the NFL with LB LaMarr Woodley and S Troy Polamalu. The Steeler defense ranked first in the league in total defense last season.
3. Cincinnati 8-8 The Bengals would have a legit chance to make the playoffs this season, but it is going to be difficult. The Bengals must play the NFC East this season, which consists of Dallas, N.Y. Giants, Philadelphia, and Washington. The Andy Dalton-A.J. Green tandem is going to be key in the success of the Bengals again this season, along with a defense that was seventh in the league in total defense last season. The Bengals will again be in the playoff race, but it will be trickier this season.
4. Cleveland 4-12 The Browns have one of the toughest schedules in the league and it doesn't help that they were among one of the worst teams in the league last season. The Browns will start 28-year-old rookie QB Brandon Weeden in an offense that was the third worst in the league last season. There were not many changes to the Brown defense this off-season, and the defense should be around the same talent level as last season. The Browns defense were second in defending the pass last season. Look for Cleveland to win four games again this season.
AFC South W-L
1. Houston 12-4 The Texans finally made it over the hump last season, and were one of the biggest surprises in the league. The Texans return starting QB Matt Schaub, who missed the last six games of the season and both playoff games with a foot injury. The great thing about the Texans is if anything happens to Schaub again, they know they can rely on back-up QB T.J. Yates. Schaub will be joined again on offense with RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson, and TE Owen Daniels. The Texan defense, who ranked second in the league in total offense, will be led by ILB Brian Cushing and CB Johnathan Joseph. The Texans will win the AFC South and head to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
2. Tennessee 8-8 The Titans just missed the playoffs last season, and will look to make a run again this season with new starting QB Jake Locker. The Titans will first need to make it through their first six games of the season though, as they must face New England, San Diego, Detroit, Houston, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh. If they make it through this part of their schedule with three wins, they will have a legit chance of making the playoffs. The Titans offense returns 1,000 yard rusher Chris Johnson and WR Nate Washington. The defense was at best mediocre last season, and will need to play better this season if they want to get a birth in the playoffs.
3. Jacksonville 5-11 The Jaguars will be the same team as last year, except that Blaine Gabbert will be a more experienced quarterback and Maurice Jones-Drew may not rejoin the team. The interesting aspect about the Jaguars is how talented their defense is and how untalented their offense is. In the five games the Jaguars won last season, the Jaguar defense gave up an average of 10.2 ppg. The offense will add rookie WR Justin Blackmon, who had his share of off-season problems, and return MLB Paul Posluszny, who recorded 119 tackles last season.
4. Indianapolis 4-12 The Colts have franchise QB Andrew Luck and are ready to improve on one of the worst seasons in Colt's history. Luck will be fortunate enough to have a talented group veteran wideouts in Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Luck will also have Stanford TE Coby Fleener. The Colts defense will include OLB Dwight Freeney and ILB Pat Angerer, who will be out the first six weeks of the season with a broken foot.
AFC West W-L
1. Denver 12-4 The Broncos made the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 last season with the magic of QB Tim Tebow. Tebowmania is officially over in Denver, and the Broncos have acquired future Hall-of-Fame QB Peyton Manning. With Manning at the helm, the Broncos will now have a a more consistent passing game and will be an even stronger team than last year. Manning will have RB Willis McGahee and WR Eric Decker. The Broncos defense will be good this year as well with OLB Von Miller, DE Elvis Dummervil, and CB Champ Bailey. The Broncos should win the AFC West again this season.
2. San Diego 11-5 The Chargers should have been a lock to win the AFC West last season, but couldn't find a way to win in close games. The Chargers are back this season with high expectations of redeeming themselves and showing they are one of the best teams in the AFC. The Chargers will have one of the best offenses in the league with QB Phillip Rivers, RB Ryan Matthews, who will miss the first six weeks of the season with a collarbone injury he suffered in preseason, and TE Antonio Gates. The Charger defense returns Pro Bowler Eric Weddle, who had seven interceptions last season. The Chargers have a favorable schedule and will be a threat to win the AFC West.
3. Kansas City 9-7 I feel the Chiefs this season will be one of the most improved teams in the league. They have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball with QB Matt Cassel, a solid running back, and wide receiving core. RB Jamaal Charles returns after suffering from torn ACL early last season, and will be backed up by a solid runner in Dexter McCluster. The wide receiving core will be solid with Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jon Baldwin, and rookie Devon Wylie. TE Tony Moeaki also returns after suffering an ACL injury last season. On defense, SS Eric Berry returns after tearing his ACL in week 1 last season, and pro-bowler ILB Derrick Johnson, who recorded 131 tackles last season, will be the leader of the Chiefs defense. The Chiefs have a favorable schedule this season and should hit nine wins.
4. Oakland 8-8 Oakland was the ninth best offense in the league last season. The Raiders should be talented offensively again, even with a new offensive scheme. The Raiders return QB Carson Palmer, RB Darren McFadden, and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. The defense should be improved this season with Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver. The Raider defense was the third worst overall defense in the league last season. If McFadden can stay healthy, Palmer can cut down on interceptions, and the defense can show up to play every week, the Raiders have a chance to contend in the AFC West.
AFC Playoff Seeding
1. New England
5. San Diego
Pittsburgh over Denver
Baltimore over San Diego
New England over Pittsburgh
Baltimore over Houston
New England over Baltimore
The NFC is going to be interesting this year to say the least. It consists of the best division, the NFC East, and the worst division, the NFC West. The battle for the top spot in the NFC will be between Green Bay, N.Y. Giants, and San Francisco. Atlanta will battle it out with New Orleans for the South Division, who will be without Head Coach Sean Peyton the whole season. The battle for who will get the wild card spot in the playoffs will be fun this season. Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta/New Orleans, will fight for the fifth and sixth seeds.
NFC East W-L