Reevaluating Each AFC Team After 5 Weeks

Posted: 10/13/2013 by levcohen in Football

I did the NFC on Thursday, and I’ll try to fit the AFC in before kickoff.

AFC East:

1. New England Patriots (12-4): It’s been nerve wracking throughout, but the Patriots have managed to get off to a 4-1 start, and reinforcements are coming (although Rob Gronkowski is still week to week). I still see them getting the 12 wins and first round BYE that I had them getting in the preseason, even though Tom Brady’s touchdown streak was broken last week.
Preseason Projection: 12-4, first in division

2. Miami Dolphins (9-7): As I have said before, I really like the Dolphins. They are three and two, and their schedule gets a bit easier, but that home loss against the Ravens might come back to bite them as they fight for a playoff spot.
Preseason Projection: 8-8, second in division

3. New York Jets (8-8): The Jets have proven me, and a lot of people, wrong through five weeks, as they are now just one win short of what I predicted for the whole season. I still don’t think they will really be in the playoff hunt, but this is not the lost season I thought it would be with Geno Smith at the helm.
Preseason Projection: 4-12, fourth in division
4. Buffalo Bills (5-11): Things were looking up for the Bills, until rookie QB EJ Manuel went down with an injury. Now Thaddeus Lewis (I almost called him Thaddeus Young. Go Sixers!) is starting, and the Bills are going to lose a lot of games, although they could win six based on having the advantage of being used to playing in frigid Buffalo weather later in the season.
Preseason projection: 5-11, third in division

AFC North:

1. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): This Bengals team is a classic 10-6 squad. They are inconsistent, sometimes stepping up to beat good teams (like the Packers) and other times falling flat (against the Browns). They’ll probably get a #4 seed, have a home game in the playoffs, at which point anyone’s guess is as good as mine.
Preseason projection: 11-5, first in division

2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7): It looks like I was dead on with my 9-7 preseason assessment. The Ravens are going to be very good at home (excluding a loss they will have today against the Packers) and probably win two or three games on the road. They’ll be in the playoff hunt late in the season, and four of their last six games are at home.
Preseason projection: 9-7, second in division
3. Cleveland Browns (7-9): The loss of Brian Hoyer was bad (who would of thought that I would be saying that?), and with Brandon Weeden as quarterback they probably won’t win more than eight games.
Preseason projection: 7-9, fourth in division
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-11): They won’t go winless for the whole season, but don’t expect a huge turnaround for the aging Steelers team. I’m predicting a 5-7 end to the season, which given their remaining schedule (not too difficult) is pretty fair.
Preseason projection: 7-9, third in division

AFC South:

1. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): I was wrong about this Colts team. I thought they were going to regress in a big way from the 11 wins they earned last year (well, it’s debatable how many wins they actually earned, but that’s beside the point), but instead they are a much better football team, and this year they will win a much deserved 11 games, with more coming in the future for this young team.
Preseason Projection: 8-8, second in division

2. Houston Texans (9-7): The Houston Texans need to turn it around. Now. They have been lackluster at best in the first five weeks of the season, and are lucky to be 2-3. Their schedule actually gets tougher as the season progresses, but I think the Texans will bounce back and make a playoff run.
Preseason Projection: 12-4, first in division3. Tennessee Titans (8-8): How ’bout them Titans? They are 3-2, and I think it’s a legit 3-2. If not for the loss of Jake Locker for 4-6 weeks, I’d be more bullish on Tennessee, but Ryan Fitzpatrick looked terrible last week and the Titans will probably get Locker back with a record in the neighborhood of 5-5, after which four of their last six games are on the road.
Preseason Projection: 6-10, third in division4. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15): Week 15, people. The Jaguars will be 0-13 going into their game against the Bills, and they will emerge from that game 1-13.
Preseason Projection: 5-11, fourth in division

AFC West:

1. Denver Broncos (13-3): The Broncos actually have a pretty difficult schedule, with games coming up at Indianapolis and at New England. They also play their division rival and fellow unbeaten Kansas City twice. So I see three losses coming, but not many more than that.
Preseason projection: 11-5, first in division

2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): The Chiefs are so lucky. Their schedule is so easy that, even if I gave them every rational loss they could get, they’d still probably finish over .500. I can’t wait until they get crushed in the playoffs.
Preseason projection: 8-8, second in division

3. San Diego Chargers (7-9): The Chargers won’t be making the playoffs, but they will be competitive, as they have been in the first five weeks. If Kansas City has a complete collapse, they could also knock KC out of a Wildcard spot in week 17. I look forward to seeing that.
Preseason projection: 6-10, third in division

4. Oakland Raiders (5-11): The Raiders are also somewhat competitive and watchable with quarterback Terrelle Pryor at the helm. I could barely see them winning three games before the season started, but right about now this looks like a five or six win team, which the Raiders definitely would have taken heading into the season (unless they wanted to tank, which is probably what they thought they were doing by naming Pryor the starter. So the Raiders front office probably secretly hates Terrelle Pryor for making them a competitive team).
Preseason projection: 3-13, fourth in division

Wildcard teams:
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)
Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

In the Hunt:
Houston Texans (9-7)
Miami Dolphins (9-7)
New York Jets (8-8)
Tennessee Titans (8-8)

Eliminate them already!
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
Oakland Raiders (5-11)
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-11)
Buffalo Bills (5-11)

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