What USA Today got right and wrong with 2018 AFC record predictions

USA Today Predictions!

USA Today Sports recently published their annual NFL record predictions for all 32 teams. Many of the teams they chose to win their divisions or make the playoffs were obvious selections, but there were some surprises at the postseason level and even more questionable decisions among the teams with lower records.

AFC East

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USA Today has the New England Patriots going 11-5 and winning yet another division title in 2018. That’s hardly surprising, in fact many people even expect the team to win more than 11 games. The recent state of the division is drowning in mediocrity. The Miami Dolphins are predicted to finish 7-9 with the return of Ryan Tannehill. They could honestly have an even worse record though since they’ve lost so many other key players over the last year. The New York Jets are predicted to go 4-12 and the Buffalo Bills are even worse at 3-13. That’s what people come to expect from teams lacking star power.

AFC West

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The Los Angeles Charges reign supreme with a 10-6 record according to USA Today. Their biggest competition, the Denver Broncos, finish one game back at 9-7. Personally, I think that the Broncos defense is still great and the offense will be just good enough with Case Keenum to win the division. The predictions have both the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders finishing at 7-9. I really like these decisions. The Chiefs will be led by Patrick Mahomes for the first time and he has little experience as a starter while Jon Gruden will have to brush some dust off in his return year to coaching. It was an egregious mistake though to claim the Chargers would make the Super Bowl. At most they’re the fourth best team in the AFC.

AFC North

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The Pittsburgh Steelers get the division title in their last season with Le’Veon Bell, finishing 10-6. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals both go 7-9, while the Cleveland Browns win five games. It’s hard to believe the Ravens will miss the playoffs again, they could definitely make a wild card run and even snag a game from the Steelers. I think five wins is a good number for the Browns, after all they won zero last year. I never bought into their playoff dark horse rumors, the team just needs time to mature and gel together.

AFC South

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I found this division’s predictions to be the most interesting in the AFC. USA Today predicted three teams in the AFC South will finish with ten wins: the Jacksonville Jaguars (12-4), Houston Texans (11-5), and Tennessee Titans (10-6). The Texans and Titans were given both of the AFC’s wildcard slots. The idea that the South can turn from the laughing stock of the AFC to one of the best divisions in the game in just a few years is crazy, but I don’t see the Titans pulling off ten wins. Their offense is to inconsistent. I like the choice with the Jaguars, but 11 wins seems a little high for the Texans, even if they have a healthy Deshaun Watson. The Indianapolis Colts got the cold shoulder with these rankings, going just 2-14. There’s no way that happens if Andrew Luck plays even a little.

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