2018-2019 NFL AFC Standings Predictions | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

SCU AFC Predictions

The NFL season is almost here and I wanted to give some predictions on what I think will happen this year. It will include the team MVP, offensive and defensive player of the year, and guys who I think will breakout.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots-12-4 (5-1)

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The Patriots are looking to bounce back from the Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They are in a weird situation on offense with only three wide receivers active until Julian Edelman comes back from his suspension. They added running backs Sony Michel, and Jeremy Hill to help establish the running game to take some pressure off of Brady. Gronk needs to stay healthy as well as the offensive line after having 1st round pick Isaiah Wynn went down. The defense is a major weakness and what I think will keep them from returning to the super bowl. They added Adrian Clayborn this offseason and return Derek Rivers from an injury, but the linebacker position is a major hole for them. The secondary lost Malcolm Butler after the Super Bowl debacle, so the secondary will need to step up to replace him. The Patriots still have the best quarterback in the league, but that defense is preventing them from returning to the Super Bowl.

2. New York Jets-6-10 (3-3)

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The Jets got their future franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. They will start him from day one after moving Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints. They added Isaiah Crowell in free agency, but the run game doesn't look too promising. The receivers are certainly there, with Robby Anderson being one of the games best young receivers and the return of Quincy Enunwa. The offensive line needs to hold up to make sure the Jets quarterback doesn't take too many big hits. The Jets defense is very talented with Williams, McClendon and the young buck Shepard as the front three. Both of the inside linebackers are talented, but the lack of pass rush has been apparent the past few years. The secondary is phenomenal with one of the best safety duos in the league with Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams. The signing of Tremaine Johnson will make the defense even better. The Jets surprised many last year and I think they again could make a push for six to seven wins.

3. Buffalo Bills-3-13 (3-3)

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The Bills added two young building blocks with the additions of Josh Allen and Tremaine Edmunds, who could be stars in the making. The Bills are going to start Nathan Peterman to start the season who looked great this preseason, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Allen take over if he struggles. LeSean McCoy will be the go-to guy on offense but he is getting older, and the Bills have one of the worst receiving groups in the league. The offensive line is rough to say the least, but Dion Dawkins looked pretty good in his rookie year. The defense will be relied heavily upon if they want to win many games. They added Star Lotulelei in free agency, as well a Harrison Phillips in the draft. Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde were two pleasant surprises last year and will form one of the best safety duos in the league. Tre'Davious White was very good last year, and I could see him being a top 10 corner by the end of the year. The Bills have very little offensive talent and are still very young. These next couple of years will be rebuilding time for the Bills.

  • MVP: LeSean McCoy
  • OMVP: Charles Clay
  • DMVP: Micah Hyde
  • Breakout: Tre'Davious White

4. Miami Dolphins-3-13 (1-5)

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Miami is coming off a year which they lost their starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill and brought in free agent Jay Cutler. It was a disappointing season all around except for the emergence of guys like Kenyan Drake and Charles Harris. Tannehill turned 30 this past offseason and is coming off a significant ACL tear, and the Dolphins might replace him after the season. Kenyan Drake was a stud last year, and I look for him to come back even better this season. The receivers lost one of the top receivers in the league in Jarvis Landry but added Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson. Wilson or DeVante Parker will need to show out this year if the Dolphins want a legit passing attack. The defense needs to bounce back this year with guys like Raekwon McMillan and Robert Quinn coming in and to see how Xavien Howard bounces back from his breakout campaign. Minkah Fitzpatrick will be a leader from day one in the secondary. Miami's roster just isn't talented enough to compete this year, and I think they will be picking top 3 in the draft.

  • MVP: Cameron Wake
  • OMVP: Kenyan Drake
  • DMVP: Xavien Howard
  • Breakout: Albert Wilson/DeVante Parker

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers-10-6 (5-1)

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The Steelers are looking to bounce back after a loss to the Jaguars in the AFC divisional round, and are coming off an offseason full of drama with Le'Veon Bell. Big Ben returns for his 15th season surrounded by the best group of receivers he's ever had. Antonio Brown is one of the best offensive weapons in the league, and JuJu Smith-Schuster looks like he's next in line for great Steeler receivers. The running back situation is murky, but it seems that Bell is probably going to be traded so James Conner will need to step up. The offensive line is super underrated and should be able to produce some good numbers on the ground. The defensive line is super talented but they will need to step up in order to stop the run. The linebackers are easily the biggest weakness on the Steelers with the looming question about Ryan Shazier, so I expect a different group starting almost every game until they see who the top guys are. TJ Watt was a beast last year, and I expect him to be a double digit sack guy for Pittsburgh. The secondary looks better then what it has, but Artie Burns will need to step it up at corner. Pittsburgh is a team that I could see making the Super Bowl, and don't call me biased because I'm a Panthers fan.

  • MVP: Antonio Brown
  • OMVP: JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • DMVP: Cam Heyward
  • Breakout: T.J Watt

2. Cleveland Browns-7-9 (3-3)

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The Browns had one of the busiest offseasons out of any team this year, and I think they have it figured out. They traded for Tyrod Taylor and drafted Baker Mayfield number one in the draft. It will be interesting to see when or if Baker takes over as the starting quarterback. Cleveland brought in a whole new backfield with Carlos Hyde, and the 2nd rounder Nick Chubb, as well as the return of Duke Johnson. The receiving corps is one of the best in the league with Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, and David Njoku. The biggest questions for the Browns will be if Josh Gordon can stay on the field, and who will replace Joe Thomas? UDFA Desmond Harrison will get the start, a guy I was high on but fell for character issues. The defensive line is nasty with Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Larry Ogunjobi. Garrett is a guy I could see contending for DPOY and the potential sack leader this year. The linebackers are pretty nice, and aside from Terrance Mitchell, the secondary looks promising as well. Cleveland could surprise many people and have a chance at the playoffs, or make me look dumb by sucking again.

  • MVP: Myles Garrett
  • OMVP: Josh Gordon
  • DMVP: Emmanuel Ogbah
  • Breakout: David Njoku

3. Baltimore Ravens-7-9 (3-3)

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The Ravens had a pretty exciting offseason as they grabbed their future quarterback Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco is firmly on the hot seat as his performance has dipped, and they spent a first rounder on a quarterback. Alex Collins emerged as a good piece on offense, but I would like to see him be more of a receiver out of the backfield before i would make him the long-term guy. The receiving group is a mess with the additions of Micheal Crabtree, John Brown, Willie Snead, and first rounder Hayden Hurst. It will be interesting to see who takes over as the top guy, but my bet is either on Micheal Crabtree or Chris Moore. The Ravens defense is always good, and with stud nose tackle Michael Pierce, and Brandon Williams the defensive line should be good once again. C.J Mosley returns with Terrell Suggs and the budding star Matt Judon. The secondary is getting older, but I expect a breakout season from Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens defense is good enough to win them games, but Flacco has to prove himself in order for the Ravens to make the playoffs.

  • MVP: C.J Mosley
  • OMVP: Alex Collins
  • DMVP: Matt Judon
  • Breakout: Marlon Humphrey

4. Cincinnati Bengals-6-10 (1-5)

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Cincy is coming off a year of disappointments as they failed to make the playoffs. Andy Dalton comes back for another year at quarterback, which may be his last year in Cincy depending on his performance. Joe Mixon takes over as the starting running back with Gio Bernard as the 3rd down guy. Mixon is one guy I expect to have a huge year in his sophomore season. A.J Green is still one of the best receivers in the league still, and John Ross is another young guy who I think will step up after his disappointing rookie year. The offensive line has struggled to protect Dalton, but they added interior offensive lineman Billy Price in the first round of the draft, as well as acquired Cordy Glenn from the Buffalo Bills. The Bengals defense has a lot of promising young talent, especially on the defensive line. Geno Atkins is still very reliable, Andrew Billings is a promising nose tackle, and Carl Lawson has the look of a double digit sack guy if Marvin Lewis plays him. The linebacker group is bad, to say the least, but they have a good secondary with Dre Kirkpatrick, 3rd rounder Jessie Bates, and William Jackson III who looked like a top 10 corner at the end of last year. As long as the Bengals have the Andy Dalton-Marvin Lewis pairing, I doubt they make the playoffs and definitely not win a playoff game.

  • MVP: Geno Atkins
  • OMVP: A.J Green
  • DMVP: William Jackson III
  • Breakout: Carl Lawson

AFC South

1. Jacksonville Jaguars-12-4 (3-3)

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The Jags surprised a lot of people by making it to the AFC Championship and almost taking down the Patriots. Blake Bortles reportedly had a good offseason, but he struggled in the preseason once again. Leonard Fournette carried the offensive to the AFC Championship, and if they want to get back he will need to do that once again. The receivers are unproven with Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief, and 2nd rounder D.J Chark. I think Cole takes the reigns as the top weapon as inserts himself into the top 20 receiver conversation. Jacksonville added Austin Seferian-Jenkins as their starting tight end and all-pro guard Andrew Norwell. The defense is phenomenal everywhere, and it starts on the defensive line. Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, and Yannick Ngakoue form the best defensive line in football. The great young linebacker tandem of Telvin Smith and Myles Jack is one of the best in the game, but they are relying on late rounder Leon Jacobs to be the other starter. The Jags have two top 5 corners in the league with Jalen Ramsey and A.J Bouye, plus the reliable safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gibson. Jacksonville has one of the best rosters in the league, but you can't win a Super Bowl with Blake Bortles at quarterback.

  • MVP: Jalen Ramsey
  • OMVP: Leonard Fournette
  • DMVP: Calais Campbell
  • Breakout: Keelan Cole

2. Tennesee Titans-10-6 (3-3)

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The Titans are a year removed from a Wild Card playoff win against the Chiefs. Marcus Mariota had a down year but I think he will bounce back in a big way this year. Derrick Henry is the starting running back with Dion Lewis as the third down and rotational back. Corey Davis was good in the playoff game, and I expect him to have a monster sophomore season with Mariota. The offensive line struggled at times, but Taylor Lewan just got a big contract and Jack Conklin is still a super reliable right tackle. The defense has a lot of new additions including their two first picks Rashaan Evans, and Harold Landry, and Malcolm Butler from the Patriots. Jurell Casey is still one of the best defensive linemen in football and having a pass rusher like Brian Orakpo and Harold Landry will allow him to make more plays. Kevin Byard was a star last year, and as long as the corner play up to par then the defense should be very good. The Titans need Mariota to bounce back which I think he will, but I think they are still one year away from making serious noise in the playoffs.

  • MVP: Marcus Mariota
  • OMVP: Corey Davis
  • DMVP: Kevin Byard
  • Breakout: Corey Davis

3. Houston Texans-8-8 (2-4)

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The Texans looked like a legit playoff team before Deshaun Watson went down, and a lot of people forget J.J Watt is coming back from injury. Deshaun Watson was a revolution last year and his improvement will be something to keep an eye on. The running game returns D'Onta Foreman from injury and brings back Lamar Miller. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the league, and Will Fuller was on the receiving end of many Deshaun Watson deep balls. The offensive line got rid of Duane Brown last season, so the group will need to step up to protect Watson. The defense returns J.J Watt and pairs him up with Jadeveon Clowney who looked great last year. The linebacker group is solid with young pieces like Zach Cunningham, and Benardrick McKinney in the middle. They added Tyrann Mathieu from the Cardinals and got a steal in the 3rd round picking up Justin Reid. If the corner play is alright then I don't see a major hole on the Texans defense. The Texans play in a super hard division, and I don't think the offensive line can handle it quite yet.

  • MVP: J.J Watt
  • OMVP: Deshaun Watson/DeAndre Hopkins
  • DMVP: Jadeveon Clowney
  • Breakout: Zach Cunningham

4. Indianapolis Colts-7-9 (4-2)

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ANDREW LUCK IS BACK! After missing the whole season with a shoulder injury Andrew Luck is finally back playing for the Colts. The running game has young guys Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines all competing for the top spot. T.Y Hilton had a down year without Luck but he will need to bounce back, as he is one of the only experienced pass catchers the Colts have. The offensive line has proved drastically since Luck has played, they have Ryan Kelly, Quenton Nelson, and Braden Smith to protect Luck on the inside. The defense is a work in progress all around with lack of top-end talent and depth at all three levels. They return their first-round pick from a year ago, Malik Hooker and I expect him to have a big year for the Colts. Indianapolis has their franchise quarterback back, but the lack of talent on defense will prevent them from making the playoffs.

AFC West

1. Los Angeles Chargers-11-5 (3-3)

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The Chargers made their way to Los Angeles last year and they finished out the season strong winning 6 of their last 7 games. Phillip Rivers returns for his 15th season, and has the best team around him that he's had in his entire career. Melvin Gordon is coming off a very good season, and Austin Ekeler was a nice complement to him last year. They have a grat receiver corps with Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin and future star Mike Williams. They unfortuenl lost Hunter Henry to injury but briught back Antonio Gates. The defense is headlined by the two star pass rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, if Bosa stays healthy he could win DPOY. Denzel Perryman and Jatavis Brown will need to step up at linebacker, which is their weakest spot on the team. They are once again without Jason Verrett, but Trevor Williams, and Casey Heyward are two very underrated corner backs. Derwin James was their first round pick and he has a lot of hype aroud him. If the Cargers stay healthy they could make a deep run in the playoffs.

  • MVP: Joey Bosa
  • OMVP: Phillip Rivers
  • DMVP: Melvin Ingram
  • Breakout: Mike Williams

2. Denver Broncos-8-8 (3-3)

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Denver added Case Keenum this off season after having a revolving door at quarterback recently. Keenum was magic last year for the Vikings so it will be fun to see if he has it again. The running back position will be led by third round pick Royce Freeman, and a few others will see carries as well. The Broncos still have Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and they added Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton in the draft. The defense is led by superstar pass rusher Von Miller. The defensive line is the weakest spot on their defense, but the duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb is one of the most exciting duos in football. The secondary lost Aqib Talib, s guys like Justin Simmons and Bradley Roby need to step it up for the Broncos. I think Denver can be a competitive team and potentially make the playoffs.

MVP: Von Miller

OMVP: Demaryius Thomas

DMVP: Chris Harris Jr

Breakout: Bradley Roby

3. Kansas City Chiefs-7-9 (4-2)

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Kansas City traded away Alex Smith for Kendall Fuller, and are letting Pat Mahomes have the reigns of the starting quarterback. They got an absolute steal last year with Kareem Hunt, and he looks to be the focal point of the offense with a inexperienced quarterback. They have the receiving trio of Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and the newly acquired Sammy Watkins. This trio should help Mahomes in his first year, and both guys are great downfield threats for Mahomes. The defense was atrocious this preseason, and may be the reason they don't make the playoffs. Chris Jones, Justin Houston, and Dee Ford all give Kansas City good pass rushers. Reggie Ragland was good after coming over from the Bills and they need him to be good once again. Aside from Eric Berry and Kendall Fuller the secondary isn't very promising. The defense and inexperience at quarterback is what's keeping them from being a playoff team.

  • MVP: Kareem Hunt
  • OMVP: Travis Kelce/Tyreek Hill
  • DMVP: Chris Jones
  • Breakout: Reggie Ragland

4. Oakland Raiders 5-11 (2-4)

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The Raiders had one of my least favorite off seasons this summer, trading away Khalil Mack and bringing in older free agents. Derek Carr is coming off a down year and it's pivotal for the Raiders to get him back to playing well. Marshawn Lynch will be the starting running back after an ok year as the starter. They added Jordy Nelson in free agency to pair with Amari Cooper who is looking to bounce back. The defense looks depleted after the Mack trade, and will rely on young guys to step up and make plays. Maurice Hurst and P.J Hall looked good in preseason and they will need to carry on with that performance. Arden Key and Bruce Irvin will need to step up in big ways to try and replicate what Khalil Mack brought. Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph give Oakland two good young pieces in the secondary, but the rest of the secondary isn't great.





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