1). Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
This record is dependent on a healthy Big Ben all year, which hasn’t happened in awhile. Questions are in the defensive backfield, where they are young, but more athletic than last year.
One of the deepest teams in football. The big questions are how quickly will Tyler Eifert return. Plus can the Bengals receivers make up for the loss of Sanu and Jones in free agency? If they can this team may finally make a deep run in the playoffs.
Hard to believe Harbaugh will have another losing season, and with Flacco back look for the Ravens to bounce back.
I think RG III will have a solid year, just not enough around him. If they give new head coach Hue Jackson time to turn things around, he is they type of coach who could get the Browns back to the glory days.
1). New England Patriots (13-3)
Upgraded both sides of the ball in the off season. As long as they have Belichick and Brady, they will be in the hunt.
If Sammy Watkins can stay healthy all year this team will be dangerous offensively, the questions are on defense.
The Jets are a talented team. The schedule for the Jets will be the biggest problem, I believe they are a top 10 offense and defense. Bottom line I don’t trust Fitzpatrick to be good enough to elevate this team.
New coach Adam Gase is going to need a year or two to turn this team around. Depth is a big problem on this roster, they have pieces just not enough.
1). Houston Texans (10-6)
The additions of QB Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller will put this team over the top. The Texans already have the best defense in this division and now the offense has improved in the off season.
Did very little to address their concerns on defense, and the defense was terrible last year. Did address the offensive line, but will it be enough to keep Andrew Luck upright. The only way they win this division is if the defense improves big time this year, and I just don’t see it happening.
Talented roster, but the offensive line is just bad, so even though they have a ton of weapons on offense I don’t think they are quite ready to contend yet.
The defense will be very good. On offense the running backs have been upgraded big time, Mariota looks like a solid NFL QB. The problem is they need more weapons for Mariota to throw too.
1). Oakland Raiders (11-5)
They improved the offensive line and added to the back side of the defense. I think with Carr, Cooper and Murray on offense and Mack leading the defense that this will be the year the Raiders get back to the playoffs.
The defense should be enough to keep them in games. Huge questions arise with the Broncos ability to run the ball, and the QB position has the possibility of being a real mess.
The Chiefs are always going to be hanging around, and the defense is good. I just don’t see them having enough offense to make the playoffs this year.
I believe Melvin Gordon will have a breakout season and Phillip Rivers will be Phillip Rivers. In the end I think Rivers needs more receivers on offense to be able to make a serious run.
Cincinnati over Oakland
Houston over Denver
New England over Cincinnati
Pittsburgh over Houston
New England over Pittsburgh
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