A bit of take a look at how I see the AFC enjoying out within the 2022 season. The expected data are primarily based on every workforce’s particular person schedule.
Buffalo Payments: 12-5
The Payments are the oddsmaker’s favourite to win not simply the East division however your complete convention. It’s simple to see why, too. Buffalo has a legit MVP candidate in QB Josh Allen and several other strong weapons for him to work with. The traces are each strong and the younger secondary has promise. The Payments usually are not with out their flaws and it’s going to be very fascinating to see how Allen performs with out sensei Mind Daboll, who’s now teaching the Giants. However the top-end expertise is in place to win a number of postseason video games this yr.
Miami Dolphins: 9-8
New head coach Mike McDaniel is a part of the shift to a extra dynamic and constantly efficient offense. A lot relies upon upon Tua Tagovailoa’s progress at QB, however including Tyreek Hill at WR to go along with Jaylen Waddle and beefing up the RB room positive makes life simpler for Tua. The road might want to carry out higher. If the kids on protection (EDGE Jaelan Phillips, S Jevon Holland, CB Noah Igbinoghene) can all take a step ahead, the Miami protection ought to have some actual tooth. I like the general transfer to get quicker on either side of the ball.
New York Jets: 6-11
The second yr for head coach Robert Saleh can be keyed by a better-than-advertised protection. There’s loads driving on first-round rookies Sauce Gardner and Jermaine Johnson. They’ll each should be prepared straight away to cowl some holes within the secondary. General depth improved on either side of the ball. QB Zack Wilson shedding precious growth time this offseason hurts, as does shedding 2020 first-rounder Mekhi Becton. The New York arrow is pointing up for positive, however these Jets are most likely a yr away from significantly flying up the convention standings.
New England Patriots 6-11
In the event you merely take a look at this roster from 1-53, it’s no higher than twenty ninth within the league. The protection is sluggish, the WR corps is a glorified observe squad, the experiment of Matt Patricia teaching the offense appears to be like disastrous and the all-around depth appears to be like extra like an growth workforce than a contender. However the Patriots have some excellent items in place in key spots–QB Mac Jones, LT Trent Brown, EDGE Matt Judon, however none greater than head coach Invoice Belichick. On paper this is–at most–a 5-12 roster, however I think I’m most likely lowballing New England at 6-11.
Indianapolis Colts: 11-6
Dumping enigmatic Carson Wentz at QB and changing him with a motivated, rejuvenated Matt Ryan looks like a grasp stroke. Ryan’s reliability makes the receivers higher, and it’s not like RB Jonathan Taylor wants any assist in being nice. The defensive entrance has impression gamers in DT DeForest Buckner and LB Shaquille Leonard, plus a number of promising kids. They’re weak to groups that may block them and assault down the sphere, and conserving the beginning 11 on offense wholesome is extra crucial for this Colts workforce than some other AFC contender. Frank Reich has a powerful workforce that needs to be extra resilient than in previous years.
Tennessee Titans: 8-9
There may be nonetheless some good expertise on this roster, however shedding WR A.J. Brown (commerce) and EDGE Harold Landry (harm) actually lowers the ground for Mike Vrabel’s workforce. Getting a full season of RB Derrick Henry behind a succesful line at all times retains Tennessee harmful, and Ryan Tannehill is a strong, confirmed QB. A younger secondary can step up and the defensive entrance appears to be like powerful even with out Landry, however the margin for error has gone away in Nashville. They even have massive questions on particular groups. Too good to be dangerous however not ok to duplicate final yr’s 12-5.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-11
Merely eradicating City Meyer is worthy of two extra wins in Duval, however the Jaguars are additionally cobbling collectively a stronger roster. Trevor Lawrence needs to be higher in Yr 2, and he’s bought weapons in Marvin Jones, Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and RBs Travis Etienne and James Robinson. Swiping OG Brandon Scherff was an excellent transfer. The 2 first-rounders on protection, Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd, can solely assist shore up the middle-of-field protection, which additionally added NFL tackling champ Foyesade Oluokun at LB. The DL and secondary stay troublesome and there’s no impactful veteran difference-maker on both aspect of the ball.
Houston Texans: 5-12
Lovie Smith is constructing his Texans workforce round a speed-based defensive philosophy. There’s a plethora of “oh, in order that’s the place that man is now” gamers on the protection, however Houston does have some promise. The rookies within the secondary, CB Derek Stingley Jr. and S Jalen Pitre, seem like stars within the making. Davis Mills flashed some expertise at QB final yr and will develop extra. There are nonetheless quite a lot of questions and determined lack of difference-makers exterior of ageless WR Brandin Cooks, however these Texans are able to ruining the day for groups that overlook them. Bonus win for introducing the Battle Purple helmet, immediately the very best within the league.
That is probably the most tough division within the league to foretell. I can current robust arguments for all 4 groups to each win the division and in addition are available final.
Baltimore Ravens: 10-7
So many accidents a yr in the past stored John Harbaugh’s squad from maximizing potential. The fear isn’t as a lot that it’s going to occur once more, however will all of the strolling wounded be what we anticipated of them earlier than final yr? TE Mark Andrews because the lead weapon for QB Lamar Jackson presents distinctive challenges. This workforce sorely wants WR Rashod Bateman and RB J.Okay. Dobbins to emerge as gamers who scare defenses and relieve strain on Jackson and Andrews to do all the pieces. Including first-rounder Kyle Hamilton and high free agent Marcus Williams at security could possibly be good. Justin Tucker stays the NFL’s greatest-ever kicker, and the Ravens particular groups are a pleasant insurance coverage coverage.
Cincinnati Bengals: 10-7
The reigning AFC champs usually are not going to sneak up on anybody now, however they’ve the celebs in place to put on the bullseye effectively. QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon and WR JaMarr Chase are nearly as good of a set of offensive triplets as there are, and there’s numerous expertise round them too. The OL can’t be any worse than it was in 2021. I fear about their potential defensively to deal with WRs with dimension and RBs behind OLs that may transfer. The expectations are an enormous variable for such a younger workforce. Trey Hendrickson and Jesse Bates have to be the top-shelf gamers they have been a yr in the past.
Cleveland Browns: 9-8
The main focus is on the actually wild QB state of affairs, and the Browns dealing with of Baker Mayfield, Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett–the new major starter in 2022–definitely raises eyebrows. It obscures what is likely to be the NFL’s greatest protection, led by MVP candidate Myles Garrett and that includes the deepest set of CBs within the league in addition to speedy standout LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The offense can run on anybody with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson. The OL has the very best guard tandem in Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Amari Cooper offers the Browns the WR1 they’ve lacked whereas squabbling with OBJ. However the QB state of affairs and drama are a possible anchor that may scuttle it all–or produce one other thrilling playoff run like 2020.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 7-10
The Steelers have a unbelievable defensive entrance keyed by T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. It’s an amazing place to have a major identification. The secondary could make some performs behind them too. Proper now the LBs are higher in principle than observe however have potential as effectively. It’s the offense that has the most important questions. Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett at QB? Can the OL block higher than final yr, after they have been someplace between inept and terrifying? Who steps up as a high receiver? Is there even one offensive reserve participant who makes one other NFL roster? Too many inquiries to belief. Nonetheless, if even certainly one of them seems affirmatively, you may guess Mike Tomlin’s Steelers are going to be gamers within the playoff race.
May a division end with each workforce having a profitable report? This yr’s AFC West could possibly be our greatest probability to seek out out.
Los Angeles Chargers: 11-6
I’ve picked the Chargers to win this division loads over time, normally to my utter dismay come December. However I can not resist biting the apple as soon as once more. Justin Herbert is an MVP candidate rising into his QB prime. He’s bought appreciable receiving expertise in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and RB Austin Ekeler, and is protected by the very best younger OT within the sport in RaShawn Slater. And but the Chargers protection might be their higher unit. Between reinforcing the road and getting the secondary wholesome and revamped, this aggressive protection can dominate. These Chargers seem like a workforce that may characterize the AFC within the Tremendous Bowl. That’s in fact been true a number of different instances and the Bolts didn’t come shut, so trepidation is deserved.
Kansas Metropolis Chiefs: 11-6
Any workforce with Patrick Mahomes working Andy Reid’s offense goes to be enjoyable to observe. The Chiefs had a internet loss in receiving expertise this offseason, however newcomers Skyy Moore, Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are nonetheless a harmful group. Creed Humphrey is a budding star at heart, anchoring a powerful (albeit paper-thin) line. The defensive entrance can impression each the run and the cross. Two newcomers within the secondary are key: first-round CB Trent McDuffie and free agent S Justin Reid. In the event that they’re as much as the problem, this could possibly be an actual robust protection. Particular groups look fantastic. Don’t write them off merely since you’re bored of them profitable the division yearly.
Las Vegas Raiders: 9-8
Reuniting WR Davante Adams with QB Derek Carr could possibly be the enhance the Raiders have to advance past the Wild Card spherical for the primary time in 20 years. Adams is arguably the NFL’s greatest receiver and offers Carr a legit gamebreaker. Paired with a strong floor sport and harmful TE Darren Waller, these Raiders ought to be capable of overcome a shaky OL and submit some factors. The protection might want to have its disparate elements come collectively rapidly. There may be younger expertise in gamers like CB Nate Hobbs and S Trevon Moehrig. Maxx Crosby will get assist up entrance with Chandler Jones. It’s at all times a priority when there’s a brand new coach taking on a playoff workforce, particularly one which has set the final three years of high draft picks on fireplace. Las Vegas is precariously harmful to everybody it performs but in addition to itself. Finally, the Raiders have an excessive amount of high-end expertise to be as dangerous because the haters need them to be.
Denver Broncos: 8-9
Generally there are groups I simply can not get a really feel for. These Broncos are a type of groups. I believe the transfer to accumulate Russell Wilson was a worthy gamble, however I don’t but have a learn on rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett or a forged of largely unknown assistants. The receivers could possibly be nice, or they might all be damage once more. The road has expertise however an excessive amount of of it makes too many boneheaded errors. There are nonetheless helpful items on protection however severe questions in any respect three ranges. Russ can nonetheless prepare dinner however he’s bought to feed a surprisingly compiled unit going through a brutal schedule with only a few gamers who’re of their NFL primes. Bizarre workforce. Might be fairly dang good, however the backside is the bottom of any within the division too.
Playoff decide: Ravens over Payments to advance to the Tremendous Bowl