The Official Meehan 2014-2015 AFC Preview‏‏

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by Ryan Meehan

Since we have the more powerful conference out of the way, it’s time to discuss the AFC. And let’s be real here for a second…the AFC is once again becoming very similar to the way we saw it in the 1990s when the Buffalo Bills were losing Super Bowls every time you got up to use the restroom. A thirty five point smackdown in the big one probably didn’t do much for the counterargument here either.

AFC North

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Last Year’s Final Standings:

Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

Cleveland Browns (4-12)

For Coach Ryan’s sake, I sincerely hope that when I do this preview next year I’m sitting here telling you about the Cleveland Browns and how they are going to repeat as division champs. Hurley is a Browns fan too, and I’ve always kind of had a soft spot for the Browns since Kevin Mack fumbled their last real shot at a Super Bowl. That ball was indirectly recovered by Doug Williams, who would later go on to turn it into a Super Bowl MVP. But the reality is, the Ravens are still probably the best team in this division. They certainly have paid for it, as Joe Flacco has probably been assigned a crack team of personal assistants to ensure that he doesn’t fall off of a skateboard in his driveway. I could sit and bag on the Steelers all day, which isn’t hard seeing as how they are a shell of themselves and are led by the a guy who will always be the worst two-time Super bowl winner. Can we be done with the Ben Roethlisberger thing? The guy had one really good year, and was awful last season. Nothing would make me happier than to see them pull an Atlanta and just bite it with only three wins. It’s high time that team starts thinking about what it will look like in five years. As for the Browns, that’s Coach’s department but I do expect them to be better although not by much. What’s funny here is that I’ve gone all this time without even mentioning the Cincinnati Bengals, who are just as good as anybody else in the league. Unfortunately for them, they turn to pixie dust as soon as the calendar flips to January. As of late, it’s been customary for the Bengals to make the playoffs and then lose right away. That won’t happen again, I don’t believe they’ll get in this year.

Projected 2014 Standings

Baltimore Ravens (10-6) (3)

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9)

Cleveland Browns (6-10)

I don’t know if “palindromic” is a word, but that pretty much sums up the way I think everyone in this division will finish.  You’ll also notice though that there won’t be anybody who does particularly well or very poorly…that’s kind of the regular season mediocrity that we’ve come to accept with the AFC North, even though they’ve won three out of the last nine Super Bowls.

AFC South

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Last Year’s Final Standings:

Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Tennessee Titans (7-9)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)

Houston Texans (2-14)

The NFL’s equivalent of Ambien, the AFC South has now been divided into two parts: The Colts; and everybody else. The Houston Texans HAVE to get better, because pretty much anything is going to be a step up from that abortion of a football team they put on the field the last fourteen games of the 2013 season. The bottom three quarters of that division is far from must see TV…The Titans show up big in twenty percent of their games, and then appear disinterested for the remainder of the year. And if you think I’m going to sit here and heap praise on the Jacksonville Jaguars, I’ve got some lakefront property on the moon that I’ll sell you at a great price. It’s beautiful this time of the year. Where was I? Ah yes, the Colts. Indianapolis has found its man in Andrew Luck, who could have a career after football as a Hollywood stunt man if Dirk Nowitzki ever decides to become an action hero. The Colts are the definition of solid. While they will never be the definition of incredible, they are currently benefiting from being in the shittiest division in the league. Nevermind the fact that they also just happened to “luck” out with the only team in that quadrant other than them who was going anywhere (Houston) imploding in the manner in which they have. It’s hard to believe all of this happened in less than twelve months, but sometimes high-risk/high-reward can be a real motherfucker in a collision sport. Indy will continue to manage games well and give us as few highlights as possible.

Projected 2014 Standings

Indianapolis Colts (10-6) (4)

Tennessee Titans (8-8)

Houston Texans (5-11)

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12)

I do think the Titans will be a better football team this year – I thought that could have been the best AFC team that didn’t make last year’s postseason – but in the end it will once again belong to Indy. For the next few years, the Colts will field a team led by a quarterback who plays great in the regular season but struggles to get over in the playoffs. (Sound familiar? I’ll give you a hint – the guy you should be thinking of also wore a hoofprint on his helmet)

AFC East

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Last Year’s Final Standings:

New England Patriots (12-4)

New York Jets (8-8)

Miami Dolphins (8-8)

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Koz is going to debate me endlessly about this subject, but this year is crucial for the Patriots because I believe this is Tom Brady’s last relevant year in the NFL. New England will easily win the division, but there’s no way that Brady will prove to be as effective as he once was after this season. This is pretty much it. He’s got to really grab the bull by the horns here, because apparently nothing says encouraging a guy who lives in Massachusetts like my shitty cattle roping analogies. Speaking of herding, haven’t we been waiting for Buffalo to get their shit together for almost twenty years now? I swear, there are two clear signs that summer is ending: One is the fact that all the kids are headed back to school, and the other is that sportswriters all across the country won’t stop pawing the kitty condo talking about how the Bills will be the most improved team of the year. If they could figure out how to have the blogosphere officiate their games and squeeze them all into August, they’d have at least ten Super Bowl trophies by now. The Dolphins will be solid, I think that Tannehill has far exceeded my expectations when it comes to what I thought he’d produce at the pro level. Unfortunately they have a brutal schedule this year so they’re not going anywhere. All the supplemental draft picks in the world couldn’t sneak them into the 2014 postseason. The Jets are garbage, and mark my words – this will be the year Rex Ryan will be relieved of his head coaching duties. Which is great timing, because he’ll be a perfect fit in Dallas as soon as Jason Garrett gets canned after their first round playoff loss. More on that at the end of the week…

Projected 2014 Standings

New England Patriots (11-5) (2)

Miami Dolphins (8-8)

Buffalo Bills (7-9)

New York Jets (6-10)

The AFC East has to start showing me something south of the Patriots because with every passing year, I just find it harder and harder to care about teams like the Dolphins or the Jets. I think the Bills will be slightly improved, but there’s really no room for them to make a push. Tannehill’s got a couple more years before we decide if he’s Eli Manning or Sam Bradford, and I expect the Jets to really take the plunge after starting well.

AFC West

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Last Year’s Final Standings:

Denver Broncos (13-3)

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5)

San Diego Chargers (9-7)

Oakland Raiders (4-12)

When I first started to write this, I was almost certain that the AFC West wasn’t sending three teams to the playoffs like they did last year, but why not? The rest of the AFC is pretty bad, and I could see three teams making it unless someone really steps up in the East or the North this year. The Denver Broncos are the clear favorite here, with Peyton Manning set to have another great regular season. Despite having a pretty poor secondary, I see no reason why they shouldn’t run away with this division. I really thought that we learned a lot about the Chiefs blowing a four touchdown lead in the AFC Wild Card game. They won’t come out of the gate like they did last year, and I guarantee you they won’t start 9-0 again. I like the fact that they got rid of Brandon Flowers even though a lot of fans weren’t crazy about that move. Their trainers knew something he didn’t want the world to know, but the Chargers signed him anyway. Speaking of the Chargers, I’m not going to bag on Philip Rivers in the manner that I have in previous seasons. That was a hell of a run at the end of last year, they even got a playoff win, and he does more with less than anybody else in the league. I think they have a better chance getting back to the playoffs than the Chiefs do, and I honestly mean that. I expect Oakland to once again lead the league in fan-related stabbings, and it’s hard to feel sorry for a franchise like that when they’ve just handed the keys to a guy who went 2-14 last year.

Projected 2014 Standings

Denver Broncos (11-4-1) (1)

San Diego Chargers (10-6) (5)

Kansas City Chiefs (9-6-1) (6)

Oakland Raiders (3-13)

Denver can’t have the same season that they did last year, but the odds they don’t win the division are almost invisible. Manning will still be great at times, but won’t statistically match what he did in 2013.

Summary

Just because the AFC is a weaker conference doesn’t mean one of its teams can’t win the Super Bowl.  But outside of New England and Denver, it’s full of a lot of teams like the Colts and the Chiefs that you just can’t trust until Brady and Manning hang it up.  Andrew Luck might smell the Super Bowl in five years, but it will be because there’s not much of a challenge.  And I still don’t think Flacco’s as good as his postseason record tells us he is, and we are all well aware of how Andy Reid teams pan out in the playoffs.  I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the AFC could look a lot like the old AFL just a few short years from now.  But who’ll win it all?  You’ll have to check back here on Friday to find out!

Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan

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