NFL PREVIEW-PART 1, THE AFC

Labor Day weekend is upon us!  Baseball teams have raised their rosters to 40 men, the fashion world tells us not to wear white anymore, and the summer is about to unofficially end.  That can mean only one thing….IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON!

Football began for real this weekend with a full slate of college games.  This coming Thursday night the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will open the NFL season by hosting the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots will open the NFL season on Thursday night.
This morning’s article will be the first of two parts.  I will give you my take on the American Football Conference today, on Wednesday night it’ll be the National Football Conference’s turn.

Let’s begin in the East.  Will the New England Patriots win this division for a ninth straight time?  The last team other than the Patriots to finish first in the AFC East was the Miami Dolphins in 2008.  That broke a five-year New England winning streak.

If anyone is going to interrupt the Patriots current domination of this division it could be a revamped Miami Dolphins.  Ryan Tannehill’s season ending injury might actually open the door for new blood running Miami’s offense.  The last time Jay Cutler teamed up with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphin’s fill-in starter had a career year.  Jay Ajayi proved last year that he could be the best runner on South Beach since Ricky Williams.  Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and a healthy Devante Parker will provide explosive targets for Cutler.

New England’s loss of Julian Edelman for the season might not slow Tom Brady and company down.  The Patriots seem to reinvent themselves when the injury bug strikes.  Last year the Pats shook off Rob Gronkowski’s injury riddled season to win the Super Bowl.  Yesterday New England acquired Phillip Dorsett from the Indianapolis Colts to fill in for Edelman.

Image result for le'veon bell

Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the class of the AFC North.

 

In the Northern Division, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the odds-on favorites.  Will Ben Roethlisberger remain healthy this year?  Will featured back Le’Veon Bell continue to be one of the best runners in football?  If the Steelers can stay healthy it looks like this division is theirs to win.  The Ravens and Bengals seem to be a step behind Pittsburgh.  The Cleveland Browns could be flirting with a winless season.

The Southern Division could be the most interesting in the conference.  Can the Tennessee Titans pull off a division championship in a rather weak division?  Could the combination of Marcus Mariotta and Demarco Murray be enough to lead the charge in the South?

 

Image result for J.J. Watt

Can J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans finish a Cinderella story in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey?

 

A storybook finish would favor the defending division champion Texans.  J.J. Watt has been in the news lately, because of the $13 million that he has raised for his neighbors in Houston as they deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  A Texans division championship would be an unbelievable ending to a season that is beginning amid a natural disaster.

Last time we saw the teams in the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders fan base watched their dream season go up in smoke when quarterback Derek Carr suffered an ankle injury. Carr showed up at camp completely healthy and ready to lead the Raiders to a division title  The Raiders were in the news during the off-season with two major stories.

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Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

 

Marshawn Lynch has come out of retirement to join the Raiders.  The Raiders also announced during the off-season they will move to Las Vegas in 2020.  Will the Raiders leave the Bay Area as Super Bowl Champions down the road?  This team is by far the class of the AFC West.  The Kansas City Chiefs have a shot at making the post-season as a wild card winner.

So here are my AFC predictions for 2017:

Eastern Division:

  1. New England    13-3
  2. Miami                10-6
  3. Buffalo               6-10
  4. NY Jets               2-14

Northern Division:

  1. Pittsburgh     11-5
  2. Baltimore        9-7
  3. Cincinnati       7-9
  4. Cleveland       1-15

Southern Division:

  1. Tennessee       10-6
  2. Houston            9-7
  3. Indianapolis   6-10
  4. Jacksonville    4-12

Western Division:

  1. Oakland         12-4
  2. Kansas City   10-6
  3. Denver           5-11
  4. LA Chargers  3-13

 

Wild Card winners:  Miami, Kansas City

Conference Championship: Oakland vs. New England

Conference Champion: New England

 

So, there you have it, do you agree??? Any thoughts???? On Wednesday night I tackle the NFC.

A program note, as a result of this double blog to kickoff the NFL season, Wednesday Night Baseball will not publish this week.  Additionally, I will be on hiatus next weekend to spend time with friends and family.  See you Wednesday!

 

 

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