AFC Preseason Predictions: East & West

AFC Preseason Predictions: East & West


Patriots 13-3:

Patriots start this season with Quarterback Tom Brady suspended for 4 games. This won’t stop Bill Belichick from having a successful season. Taking over for Brady is Jimmy Garoppolo, who has had 188 passing yards,64.5% completion yards and a QB rating of 91.9 for the past 2 years.

Granted, these numbers are from playing sparingly. Playing under Bill Belichick, having receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are still in position to start the season winning. These first 4 games will be a preview for when Brady finally retires and Garoppolo takes over.

Buffalo Bills 12-4:

The Ryan brothers are together again. It’s ultimately Rex’s team but another strong defensive mind would only help propel the Bills to the playoffs. Speaking of defense, the Bills ranked 14th in yards per game when they were ranked 4th overall in the 2014 season. The problem was that the personnel did not fit Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme. With the departure of Mario Williams, the Bills drafted first round pick, hybrid defensive end and linebacker Shaq Lawson from Clemson and second round pick linebacker Reggie Ragland from Alabama. They were named starters, fit Rex Ryan’s scheme and can help them be one of the top defensive teams in the league. The Bills will be a formidable team during the regular season and will hopefully make their first playoff appearance since 1999.

New York Jets 11-5:

The Jets came up short in the playoffs last season but this coming season they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Jets finally re-signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after a long standoff of contract disputes. With his return, star receiver Brandon Marshall is poised to have a repeat of last season’s stats. The addition of former Chicago Bear Matt Forte will give the Jets’ veteran leadership and a proven backing.
He won’t be doing all the work himself,† his backup Bilal Powell will help ease the load and is a trusted running back. The defense looks to be primed for dominance. A strong defensive line led by Muhammed Wilkerson will have running backs and quarterbacks struggling. All-Pro cornerback Darrell Revis will have the opposing team’s’ number one receiver on Revis Island where many have struggled to score. Look for the Jets to possibly grab wildcard spot at the end of the regular season.

Miami Dolphins 9-7:

Out with the old, in with the new. New head coach Adam Gase takes over for former head coach Joe Philbin and interim coach Dan Campbell. Dolphins management is hoping Gase can work the same magic that he used on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler last season and turn Ryan Tannehill from a middle of the pack quarterback to being one of the best in the league.
As for the defensive side of the ball, look for Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams to be back to form as new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is switching from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense that better suits the defensive personnel. The Dolphins shouldn’t reach the playoffs this season but they’ll be better than they have been the past 4 years.
AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs 12-4:

Chiefs dethrone The Broncos in AFC west. Last season the Chiefs offense finished 27th in total yards per game but were 9th in points per game with 25.3. The offense is boring but efficient. You won’t see Alex Smith take many chances unless he knows there’s no chance of an interception.

The Chiefs will rely on short passes and moving the chains for first downs. Jamaal Charles’ return from his ACL year should inject some excitement into the Chiefs offense. Defensively, the Chiefs should be able to keep up with the Broncos. Last year the defense was ranked 2nd in interceptions and 3rd in giving up the least points. The Defense is led by comeback player of the year Eric Berry and veterans Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. The Chiefs are in the best position this year to win the AFC West and get into the playoffs.

Denver Broncos 11-5:

Peyton Manning was on the tail end of his career last season and he did not have that great of a season. New Quarterbacks Trevor Siemen and Paxton Lynch are both in position to take over for Peyton Manning. Three quarterbacks have the potential to be very good considering the offensive talent around them— but will be on short leashes .I can see head coach Gary Kubiak considering quarterback changes during the season if one of them plays poorly for consecutive games.

Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jeff Huerman (coming off a torn ACL suffered during his rookie season last year) are poised to help whoever is at quarterback this upcoming season. With Von Miller staying put on a newly-signed 6 year $114 million contract and the secondary led by Aqib Talib, the Broncos should be able to replicate last season’s dominating defense which should help them make the playoffs.

Oakland Raiders 9-7:

The expectations are high for the Raiders this year. Derek Carr had career highs in touchdowns thrown (32) and passing yards (3,987). With Amari Cooper in his second season in the pros, look for him to build on last year’s numbers where he was the first Raider to reach 1000 receiving yards in a season since Randy Moss in 2005.

Defensively the Raiders will miss the leadership of future hall of famer Charles Woodson but they should not regress defensively as Khalil Mack looks to be the face of the defensive side of the ball. He is the first player to go to the Pro Bowl at two different positions (Defensive end and Linebacker). Also the addition of Bruce Irvin and Reggie Nelson will give Mack the help to put the Raiders’ defense in elite company. If everything goes the Raiders’ way, they could be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

San Diego Chargers 8-8:

The Chargers improve but come up short. Phillip Rivers is reunited with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who was the offensive coordinator in the 2013 season. That year, Phillip Rivers and the Chargers were ranked 5th in total yards and 12th in scoring that year. Keenan Allen will also be returning from a lacerated kidney injury that kept him out for the last 8 games last season. During the first 8 games he played he had 67 receptions, 725 yards and 4 touchdowns. If he manages to stay healthy he will have a repeat of his rookie year numbers, where he had 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. Antonio Gates looks to end his career with the Chargers. He spent last year suspended for PED use but signed a 2-year extension. Defensively last year the Chargers finished 13th in yards given up per game. They are led by Manti Te’o and cornerback Jason Verrett. The Chargers will improve on last year’s disastrous 4-12 season but will come up short in the very competitive AFC West.