2011 NFL Preview Part 1: AFC

Albert Haynesworth and partner in crime Vince Wilfork are laughing now, but can they make the Patriots unstoppable? (yahoo sports image)

I reserved the right to change my AFC South pick after I found out today that Peyton Manning had another surgery. That’s only fair.

Well this is the inaugural post of this sneaky good sports blog. What better way to kick things off than with pro football? Actually, that’s now an irrelevant pun for football…. Well anyway, with the NFL season just around the corner, it’s time to make final picks for how this season is going to play out. Today is a preview of the American Football Conference, with a preview of the National Football Conference to follow.

This year the AFC is definitely the less competitive and less intriguing conference. While there are still some VERY good teams (Patriots, Jets, Steelers) there are a lot of VERY bad teams (Browns, Bengals,). There are also some frustratingly mediocre teams (Chiefs, Texans, Jaguars), along with some good teams that either lack sense of direction or on the edge of falling off the map (Colts, Ravens, Chargers).

Not to ruin my NFC preview for you, but I have to further explain why the AFC is less intriguing than the NFC this year. It is safe to say that the Packers and Eagles are going to win their divisions. Only one team is going to make it from the NFC West. BOTH the Saints and Falcons are going to make it to the playoffs. So that means you have, realistically, the Bears, Vikings, Lions (maybe this is the year?), Cowboys, Giants, and Buccaneers competing for ONE wildcard playoff spot. That’s competitive.

Compare that with the AFC. The Patriots and Jets will both make the playoffs. The Steelers, Colts, and Chargers should all win their divisions. That means you, again, realistically, have only the Ravens, Texans, and Chiefs “fighting” for one spot. Not nearly the same type of race.

I’ll give you my team and individual picks, and then I’ll go on to explain and defend some of the more controversial ones. * denotes wildcard

North

  1. Steelers – No reason to think they can’t make it back to the big game

    Ed Reed will be ready, but will the future Hall of Famer's teammates be prepared for a Super Bowl run? (wikimedia image)

  2. *Ravens – Flacco is sort of plateauing, but the D is still there
  3. Browns – Why not 4th? Because McCoy looks darn good
  4. Bengals – I think this organization is stuck on opposite day: nothing makes sense

South

  1. Texans – It’s the perfect storm
  2. Colts – Please, sit Peyton the entire year. I’m keeping them at second just because it would be too painful to drop them further. I can only hope for 8 wins
  3. Jaguars – MJD can’t carry them to the playoffs by himself
  4. Titans – In theory they should be good. In reality it’s a rebuild year.

East

  1. Patriots – Even if Haynesworth and Ochocinco don’t contribute, this is the better team
  2. *Jets – They’d be first place if the game was bubble time! or a sound byte competition, but it’s football and that’s the Patriot’s game
  3. Bills – When was this team actually relevant?
  4. Dolphins – Henne isn’t going to suddenly get better, and Bush isn’t going to somehow stay healthy

West

  1. Chargers – No team plays so well and wins so little
  2. Chiefs – Somehow they won this division last year. Don’t count on a repeat.
  3. Broncos – Orton or Tebow, it doesn’t matter.
  4. Raiders – Somehow went 8-8 last year. A team full of intriguing players, but now they actually have to worry about the other team’s number one wide receiver

Steelers vs. Patriots in the Championship game. Steelers are going back the Super Bowl.

Read the NFC preview for individual awards and Super Bowl pick.

So originally I posted a long paragraph about why the Colts would still win the South. I can no longer defend that statement. With Peyton out, it’s the Texans’ year. Just remember that Kerry Collins recently came back from obscurity and led Tennessee to win the South. Could it happen again? I don’t think so, but I’m not predicting the 3-4 win nonsense that other people are.

The Patriots are going to win the AFC East. It’s not a question. The Jets have been talking themselves up for too long without really doing anything. And “Sanchise” is still their quarterback. He’s not ready to take a step forward either. Plax could make a difference, but the running game is questionable as LT is old and Shonne Green is kind of a question mark. The Patriots were the better team last year; contributions from Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth could make them unbeatable.

Look for the sneakygoodsportsblog take on the NFC later. Please comment and follow!

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4 thoughts on “2011 NFL Preview Part 1: AFC

  1. The Chargers were picked by Peter King of Sports Illustrated to go the Super Bowl. Your comment is accurate but they are fun to watch. King picked the Packers and Steelers to go to the Super Bowl last year so hopefully, he has it right this year.

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