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AFC Picks: Division Predictions & Betting Tips
Justin R
Justin R
September 4, 2018

AFC East Predictions

Buffalo Bills

Bills’ fans could be in for a very long season. Starting at QB will either be the Nathan Peterman or the terribly overrated rookie Josh Allen. Neither are capable of leading an NFL team. LeSean McCoy has a domestic violence charge to deal with, so his status is up in the air. And past that, there are no real threats at wideout for the Bills to even help Allen and Peterman out. The defense will be solid again this year, especially at home, but that is not enough to stop this season from being a dumpster fire. Bills are in contention for the #1 pick next year.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins did not have a great offseason, losing cornerstone talent in Suh, Landry, and Pouncey, but at least they get back QB Ryan Tannehill from injury. The rest of the Dolphins offense isn’t looking too great, but their defense has the potential to show some growth from last year. With an experienced defensive end group (Quinn, Wake, Branch), and a possibly good secondary, the Dolphins could improve greatly on that side of the ball. Unfortunately, even if the defense plays well, they won’t nearly be good enough, and the offense is too reliant on a QB that has serious injury concerns.

New England Patriots

Yet again the division is the Patriots to lose. With Brady and Belechick at the helm, a plethora of running backs, and a healthy (for now) Gronk, there aren’t many defenses that are going to be able to slow down this New England offense. The defense should be solid with returning players like Dont’a Hightower, Stephon Gilmore, and Devin McCourty. If everyone stays healthy and the Brady regression holds off another year, this will be another light walk to a divisional title.

New York Jets

The Jets’ success this season is going to rely heavily on the shoulders of rookie QB Sam Darnold. After winning the job over Josh McCown during the preseason, it is up to Darnold to add a spark to a Jets offense that has struggled in recent memory. The defense should be slightly better, but they still didn’t address the need of a big time edge rusher. But, the Jets do have some potential, especially players like WR Robbie Anderson and WR Quincy Enunwa can step up again this year like they did a season ago. This won’t be a year for contention for the Jets, but they can make a fight to get near the .500 mark.

Division Winner: New England Patriots @ 1/8

AFC East Betting Tips

AFC North Predictions

Baltimore Ravens

The story of the Ravens’ season revolves around their QB controversy. The fanbase seems to be pretty split between their veteran QB Joe Flacco and their first-round pick QB Lamar Jackson. Besides that, the 2018 Ravens are looking fairly similar to the group from last year. To be fair, the Ravens did add a couple quality WRs in Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead, so it’ll be up to whoever is QBing to get the ball in their hands. On the other side of the ball, the defense is good but getting older, so it’ll be interesting to see if their young talent can continue to step up. All in all, it looks to be around a .500 season for Harbaugh and company.

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals fans, we are sorry. We don’t know why Marvin Lewis is still around either. But against all odds, the Bengals’ front office made it clear this offseason that they are keeping HC Marvin Lewis around through a multi-year extension. It looks to be the same group leading the offense as well, with QB Andy Dalton trying to get some respect on his name around the league. RB Joe Mixon, WR AJ Green, and TE Tyler Eifert all are very skilled and can provide Dalton with some great weapons, but each will need to stay healthy and consistent if they want to help push for a Wild Card spot. The defense is okay again this year, and should be right around the middle of the pack in terms of yards and scoring. It looks to just be another worthless chapter in the book for the Bengals, who are not talented enough to compete in the division and have some glaring issues on both sides of the ball.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns finally did it! No, they haven’t won a game yet, but did finally make some positive moves this offseason. Starting with the quarterback position, they acquired a decent veteran QB in Tyrod Taylor and invested their #1 pick in Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield, who has looked great in the preseason thus far. Add in a healthy WR Josh Gordon and the newly-acquired Jarvis Landry and Carlos Hyde, and now you are looking at a fairly talented offense for the Browns. Unfortunately, the defense still is horrible, even with studs like DE Myles Garrett and additions like CB Jason McCourty. There is some hope in Cleveland, but it still will be another long season for the Browns with Hue Jackson at the helm. But don’t worry Browns’ fans, look at the bright side – you should be able to pick up a couple wins this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Similar to the Patriots’ situation, the Steelers also shouldn’t have too much contention for the AFC North crown. Although QB Ben Roethlisberger is showing some signs of decline, the offense is too star-studded to be ignored. RB Le’Veon Bell is the best overall RB in football, and WR Antonio Brown is on his way to being an all-time great. The defense is a bit of a letdown point for Pittsburgh, especially their run defense. Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler is going to need to find some answers if the Steelers want to challenge the Patriots for the AFC throne.

Division Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers @ 2/5

AFC East Betting Tips

Read More: NFC Picks: Division Predictions & Betting Tips

AFC South Predictions

NFL - Houston Texans - JJ Watt

Houston Texans

This can be a huge year for Texans’ fans, as they look to have the talent to compete for a division title. There are stars on all over this roster, including WR DeAndre Hopkins, DE JJ Watt, DE Jadeveon Clowney, OLB Whitney Mercilus, and S Tyrann Mathieu. But arguably the most important to their success is the health of QB Deshaun Watson, who impressed mightily last season but is coming off a torn ACL. If the O-Line can protect Watson and the duo of Miller and Blue can handle the work in the backfield, then this offense can be one of the best in the AFC. Similarly, if the defense can stay healthy, then Houston has an argument for having the best front seven in the conference. Bill O’Brien has quite the roster down in Houston, and the ceiling is very high for a team that will be looking to be considered among the AFC’s best.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are perhaps the biggest question mark in the entire league. How is QB Andrew Luck going to play? Luck has not taken an NFL snap for what seems like an eternity, and is now going to have to protect himself behind a bad offensive line. Drafting G Quenton Nelson was a big step in the right direction, as he can step right in to being one of the best guards in the league. But aside from Nelson, the offense is undermanned with no real threat besides WR TY Hilton. The defense was horrible last season, and did not get much better. Although they do have a lot of players returning from injury, the defense still does not have enough depth or stardom to stop even the worst offenses in the league. For Colts’ fans, the best look for this season is having Luck play the whole season without getting re-injured, and having some of their young talent show some promise. Other than that, look for maybe four to five wins out of the squad even if Luck stays healthy.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are coming off a great season that saw them advance to the AFC Championship game, only to lose to Tom Brady’s Patriots. The defense down in Jacksonville has solidified itself as one of the best NFL defenses in recent memory. With studs like CB Jalen Ramsey and DE Calais Campbell, “Sacksonville” took the league by storm last season and gave opposing offenses problems all year. But as evidenced in the playoffs last year, QB Blake Bortles is a huge liability for the team. The offense was very underwhelming, mostly due to the fact that Bortles’s accuracy and turnover have been a big problem. He doesn’t have much help on the offensive side of the ball, but his inability to even be a game manager is going to weigh down the team and likely cost them a chance at the division title. As great as the Jags defense is (and man, they are a special group), the inconsistencies of the offense could limit the success of the Jags this season. If Bortles can stabilize the offense, only then will this Jaguars team provide a serious threat in an improved AFC.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans greatly over-performed last season, beating the Chiefs in stunning fashion in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. But this year, we are expecting some regression from the Titans, even after some solid signings in the postseason. The addition of flex RB Dion Lewis and CB Malcom Butler will help on both sides of the ball, but overall the Titans are simply underwhelming. QB Marcus Mariota is perhaps the most overrated QB in football, throwing a mere 13 TDs last season compared to his 15 INTs. He does provide a great running threat, but accuracy in the pocket and on the run has been suspect at best. RB Derrick Henry is going to have a lot of the offensive load on his shoulders, and the WR corps isn’t necessarily that talented. And although the defense did show some good stints last season, they aren’t at a level where they can take over a game. There just simply isn’t enough talent at the skill positions on this roster to make a run in a crowded division. The Titans will be right around .500 but the playoffs look far in the distance.

Division Winner: Houston Texans @ 2/1

AFC South Betting Tips

AFC West Predictions

NFL - Los Angeles Chargers

Denver Broncos

The Broncos had their fair share of issues last season, but most of them revolved around the quarterback position. It seems that GM John Elway has solved this issue (or at least plugged the hole for now) with the signing of QB Case Keenum, who was actually ranked 1st in QB DVOA last season. Keenum will not only help an ailing offense, but will also give a break to a defense that had to play far too many snaps last year because of the offenses’ inability to stay on the field. And it helps that Keenum has some weapons to work with. WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both good aerial threats and the Denver defense is still top-notch with stars like DE Von Miller and CB Chris Harris. This honestly could turn into a pretty good season for the Broncos if they can defend home field as they had done so often during the Peyton Manning era. With a relatively easy schedule, don’t be surprised if the Broncos make a run in the West and possibly win the division.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Patrick Mahomes era is about to begin in Kansas City. After letting former QB Alex Smith go to the Redskins, the Chiefs are going all in on Mahomes. The former Texas Tech gunslinger carries a big arm and very mobile legs, and Andy Reid will definitely be looking to cater his system to fit the capabilities of the dual threat QB. Along with Mahomes, the Chiefs still have a ton of playmakers on offense like RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce. However, the other side of the ball might present a problem for the Chiefs as they lost star CB Marcus Peters to the Rams in free agency. The defense does have some game-changers in LB Justin Houston and S Eric berry, but they have a lot of questions around the cornerback position. The offense should be in good shape, but it looks like the defense is going to hold back the potential of the Chiefs. They just didn’t address enough problems on that side of the ball to compete in a division where you have Keenum, Rivers, and Carr slinging the ball around. At the end of the day, the Chiefs should have a good season and will have a shot at the AFC West title, as long as Mahomes can keep the ball safe and the defense can step up (a big ask).

Los Angeles Chargers

Is this finally the year for the Chargers? It feels like the franchise has been stuck in a cycle of mediocracy forever, but Chargers’ fans are painting this year as the season they can break into double digit wins. And the good news is, they certainly have the cast to do so. QB Philip Rivers has plenty of offensive weapons and a much improved defense, led by DE Joey Bosa and CB Casey Heyward, that was 3rd in scoring last season. Along with the returning cast, the Chargers also got some great pieces in their draft pick S Derwin James and free agent signing C Mike Pouncey. All in all, the team will go as far as Rivers takes them. He has had a great career, but has been inconsistent the past couple of seasons and has folded in pressure situations with countless turnovers. The defense should be great, and the offense has good potential, so the Chargers are definitely a serious threat to take the crown in the West, but again Rivers needs to prove that he is still an elite QB in today’s NFL.

Oakland Raiders

What an offseason for the Raiders. They sign Head Coach John Gruden to an absurd 10- year contract, but let LB Khalil Mack walk. Its staggering to think that they would pay Gruden but not a Top 3 LB in football. Every team usually has enough money to pay one or two guys a monster contract, and its confusing to think why the Raiders didn’t give one to Mack. His departure leaves a gaping hole in the middle of an already bad defense. Given Gruden is trying to scrap the entire defense and start anew, but there are too many problems at too many positions for the Raiders defense to even be decent. In terms of offense, there is a bit more promise. QB Derek Carr seems to finally be healthy after playing most of last year injured, and they picked up veteran WR Jordy Nelson from the Packers. Carr is going to need to bounce back from a down season last year, and if he can then the Raiders offense can be pretty lethal with WR Amari Cooper and Nelson lining up across from each other. But its not a given that Carr will bounce back in his first year under Gruden, and the defense is a giant question mark. Gruden’s first year isn’t looking too promising, and we think the Raiders would be extremely lucky to even finish around .500.

Division Winner: Los Angeles Chargers @ 6/4

AFC West Betting Tips

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