Picking each NFL division, ranking them 1-4 Part 2

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-Brady VanDeurzen

With all of the NFC divisions being ranked 1-4, it is time to resume my rankings in the AFC. The Championship belt fell to the AFC West last year, is it possible that we will see the AFC West reclaiming it in 2016?

SORRY FOR THE WAIT!!!

AFC South

Houston Texans, 9-7 record, 33% chance to win the AFC South.

The Houston Texans narrowly won the division in 2015, and to ensure that they continue to win the division, the Texans’ front office signed a large amount of big name free agents in the 2016 free agency. Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, and Jeff Allen are just a few of the transactions that the Texans made. These signings may be exactly what the Texans need in order to oust the competition in the AFC South. The Texans’ defense is still very solid, and with J.J. Watt rushing the edge, the Texans will be a very hard team to move the ball against in 2016.

Indianapolis Colts, 9-7 record, 31% chance to win the AFC South.

The Colts 2015 was hard to take comparisons from due to the massive amounts of injuries that the Colts received. It is clear, however, to see that the Colts do have talent on both sides of the ball; from this I believe that they will be just fine. Utilizing this talent will be the Colt’s biggest conundrum, in that some of their talented players aren’t great fits for the system that they are in. Frank Gore, and Andre Johnson were just a few of the players that the Colts brought in that had a hard time adapting to the system. If some of these players can grasp a better understanding of the system, the Colts are an easy favorite in the South.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 7-9 record, 22% chance to win the AFC South.

The Jaguars have been the proverbial laughing-stock of the NFL for the past several years, however, the Jags’ front office and coaching staff alike is putting a lot of effort into adding more talent to their roster. Adding solid free agents and draft picks is the best way that a team can improve, and the Jaguars  have done just that. The Jaguars hit the free agency hard, and their 2016 draft class was very impressive; they are one of the most threatening teams… three years from now, but as of right now, they are still a project.

Tennessee Titans, 4-12 record, 14% chance to win the AFC South.

The Titans, a lot like the Jaguars, are a project. However, the primary difference between the two, is that the Jaguars actually have talented players. Although the Titans added a few players in the free agency, they still weren’t the greatest quality of players. DeMarco Murray, one of the newly added Titans, had a below average 2015 season and many people believe that Murray was more of a product of the stellar Cowboys line than a quality running back. All-in-all the Titans will struggle once again in 2016, and will most likely flounder with their demanding schedule.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals, 11-5 record, 44% chance to win the AFC North.

The Bengals have consistently made the playoffs over the past several seasons, falling short of the Super Bowl a few times. Andy Dalton’s play seems to be improving which was their common shortcoming in their previous playoff lapses. The Bengals’ defense is multi-talented, and with the addition of veteran, Karlos Dansby, the Bengals defense will be tough to mess with. The only weakness to the Bengals’ game will be their offense, which was depleted in the 2016 free agency. If the Bengals can get over their offensive obstacles, then they will fare very well in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers, 11-5 record, 43% chance to win the AFC North.

The Steelers are a very interesting team, they are always a solid team that makes the playoffs regardless of their season’s woes. In 2015, the Steelers were commonly without Superstars. Le’veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and even Big Ben were just a few of the Steeler stars who were injury plagued throughout the year. If the Steelers can escape the injury bug, then their chances to win the AFC North will heavily improve.

Baltimore Ravens, 8-8 record, 12% chance to win the AFC North.

Super Bowl 47 was the pinnacle of the Raven’s talent over the past several and now the Ravens, who are on a steady decline, are struggling to regain what once was. After a disappointing 2015 season, the Ravens are not looking like a threatening team in 2016. Although I believe that they will ultimately increase their record, they still will struggle to reach .500.

Cleveland Browns, 3-13 record, 1% chance to win the AFC North.

The Browns are not going to have the similar fate that the Cleveland Cavaliers had, not by a long shot. The Browns were, arguably, one of the worst teams of all time in 2015, and 2016 isn’t looking much brighter for the Browns. The starting Quarterback for the Browns remains to be a toss-up, with, underwhelming, RGIII being the favorite. Disregarding CB Joe Haden, the Browns have absolutely zero defensive talent; and in a conference that is pronounced for their strong offenses, the Browns will not stand a chance.

AFC East

New England Patriots, 11-5 record, 58% chance to win the AFC East.

Picking the Patriots as the AFC East favorite, is almost always a no-brainer. The Patriot are a consistent playoff team, and in the 2016 season that doesn’t seem like it will change. Although the Patriots will be without Tom Brady for the first four games of the 2016 season, Brady’s loss won’t result in much of a dent. The Patriots were also forced to forfeit a draft pick in the 2016 draft as well, however, this lack of draft pick will harm the Patriots further down the road, not as much in 2016. The four games without Brady may result in one or two losses for the Pats, but after his return, the Pats will be as good as they always are.

New York Jets, 9-7 record, 19% chance to win the AFC East.

Although a 9-7 record seems underwhelming for the Jets who have been on the rise over the past few seasons, the uncertainty behind Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t. Fitzpatrick isn’t willing to sign any of the offers at this point, and rumors are surfacing that the Jets may just move on from Fitzpatrick all together. If Fitzpatrick does swallow his overvalued pride, and re-sign with the Jets, then their winning total may pierce the double digits. However until the Jets get a grasp on the situation, it is tough to determine how the Jets will perform in 2016.

Buffalo Bills, 9-7 record, 18% chance to win the AFC East.

Buffalo’s signing of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator was, to put it lightly, a bold move that was fueled completely on personal draws by brother Rex Ryan. To hire a defensive coordinator whose defense was among the worst in football in 2015, just doesn’t make any sense. Also with the Bills primarily drafting defensive threats again in 2016, it is clear that the Bills are not worried about their substandard offense. It is hard for me to see a result that is any different from 2015 in 2016.

Miami Dolphins, 5-11 record, 5% chance to win the AFC East.

Miami’s situation was always an interesting one, and the loss of star RB Lamar Miller definitely adds to the interest. The Dolphins offense was relatively stagnant in 2015, yet the Dolphins are still to address their holes on offense. The Dolphins RB situation is almost laughable, yet they continue to stack their defense with vets. Despite a majority of their players already being vets. The Dolphins have a lackluster offense that they refuse to address, and an aging defense that they continue to ignore. It is easy to spell out disaster for the Phins in 2016.

AFC West

Kansas Chiefs, 12-4 record, 42% chance to win the AFC West.

Stellar defensive play, and crafty offensive work are two things that can describe the Kansas City Chiefs to a T. Their play in 2015 started off fairly rough, with a few tough losses to a few tough teams. Yet what most people believed would be a season destroyer, in the injury to Jamaal Charles, ended up being the ultimate motivator. The Chiefs recorded an incredible end to the 2015 regular season, seeming to be unstoppable. If not for a few unfortunate plays in the Playoffs, the Chiefs could have done plenty of further damage. With the return of Jamaal Charles in 2016, I expect the Chiefs to be a scary team.

Oakland Raiders, 10-6 record, 25% chance to win the AFC West.

If any team in the entire NFL deserves and A+ in the Free Agency category, it is the Raiders. The Raiders made HUGE moves this past off-season, both solidifying their offense and boosting their defense. The Raiders in 2016 continued their routine of swiping Seattles linebackers when they acquired Bruce Irvin. Irvin’s performance at the NFL Combine was freakish and if Irvin can find his niche alongside Khalil Mack, the Raiders pass rush would be unstoppable. Other Key acquistions include FS Reggie Nelson, CB Sean Smith and OG Kelechi Osemele.

Denver Broncos, 9-7 record, 23% chance to win the AFC West.

No other team in the NFL has been effected more by the off-season than the Denver Broncos. The Broncos’ lineup was absolutely dimished during the free agency period, and it is hard to see the Broncos bouncing back from such a large hit. As of right now, the Broncos are not quarterback-less, however, they might as well be. Mark Sanchez or Trevor Siemian are dueling to be the Day 1 starter, and with Bronco fans being used to the pristine play of legendary QB Peyton Manning, they are not going to like the QB-play for next year. The defense for the Broncos also took huge hits, and although they will be the reigning Super Bowl Champions in 2016, I do not see them returning.

San Diego Chargers, 6-10 record, 10% chance to win the AFC West.

Back when the Charger’s wins were as simple as handing the ball off to LaDainian Tomlinson, was the last time the Chargers were actually a threatening team. The same cannot be said for their current RB Melvin Gordon, who only averaged 3.5 yards a carry, fumbled six times and never scored a touchdown. The Chargers offensive threats are getting old, Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers are both wily veterans, but with no help around them besides Keenan Allen… the Chargers are going to be in trouble in 2016.

 

 

 

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