Ed Note: We will break Ty's NFL preview up into three parts. Today we give you the AFC, tomorrow the NFC, and then the Super Bowl and awards.
On the heels of my 2015 college football preview, I'll be doing my first annual, "Ty's NFL Preview".
Much in the same vain as the college preview, I'll pick division winners, two wild cards from each conference, the teams that will play in the conference championship games, the Super Bowl winner and the offensive and defensive players of the year. Hell, I'll even throw in my pick for coach of the year and offensive and defensive rookies of the year. No preseason bull shit, because, just like the preseason poll in college football, preseason in the NFL doesn't mean anything to anyone that's watching. Preseason is more for players trying to make teams. And, no matter how terrible of a commissioner Roger Goodell is, I've mentioned how bad he is many times on the site, NFL football is the most popular sport in America and I love it just as much as any other fan out there.
So, let's get started. First, I'll break down the AFC. I'll start with the AFC East. The AFC East consists of the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and defending super bowl champs, the New England Patriots. The Bills had a pretty wild offseason. First, their former coach, Doug Marrone, quit out of nowhere, He led this team to 9 wins last season, with no decent QB, and just up and quit. It made no sense to me. So, the Bills hired Rex Ryan after he was fired by the Jets. I don't like this hire because I don't think Rex Ryan is a good head coach. He knows a lot about defense, but basically doesn't care or seem to know anything about offense. They also traded a linebacker, Kiko Alonso, to the Eagles for one of the top running backs in the league in LeSean McCoy. He didn't want to sign long term, but eventually did. They also signed supreme douchebag, Richie Incognito one year after his suspension for bullying. Like I said, a bizarre offseason. The Bills, I think, will look like the same team they did last season. They'll have a good running game, a good defense and no passing game whatsoever. They have no capable QB's on their roster and, with the exception of Sammy Watkins, no threats at receiver. I say 8 or 9 wins for the Bills. The Miami Dolphins made the biggest splash in free agency by bringing in Ndomakong Suh. They gave him a HUGE contract, but the guy is the best interior defensive lineman in the league. On offense they will look much the same, led by Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. They seem like a team on the rise and I think they're New England's biggest threat in the East. They could easily win 10,11 or even 12 games this year and possibly win the division. The New York Jets are a complete mess. First of all, their best defensive player, Sheldon Richardson, decided to drive his car 143 mph on the highway, and to top it off, he had guns in that car. He may never play football again. Next, a back up linebacker sucker punched starting QB Geno Smith in the jaw over what appears to be a $600 debt and he's out, at least 6-10 weeks. They have no real running game, the QB situation will be taken over by Ryan Fitzpatrick, and their defense, while solid, is only getting older, and they don't have Richardson clogging up the middle. I'd be surprised if they won 6 games this year. This brings me to the defending champions, New England Patriots. They've had an odd offseason as well. The main thing being the stupid non story of "deflategate". Another huge error in judgement from the moronic Roger Goodell. Tom Brady is supposed to miss the first four games of the season, we'll see if that holds up, and I think this will hurt the Patriots more than most. Jimmy Garroppolo may be good in a few years, but he's not ready. The Patriots do have a good running game and you can line up Rob Gronkowski against almost anyone and I'd take him, but their defense is suspect and can lose games for them. Darelle Revis also left to sign with the Jets this offseason, and that will sting. I still see the Patriots winning 10 or 11 games if Brady only misses 1 or 2 games. If he misses all four, they're more like an 8 or 9 win team to me. For that reason alone, I'm picking the Miami Dolphins to win the AFC East.
Next, The AFC North. In the North we have, the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. The Ravens are a decent football team. They have a great defense, they always do, and are led on offense by Joe Flacco. That's a good and a bad thing. When he's good, he can be great, but when he's bad, he's really bad. One week he will throw for 350 yards and five touchdowns, but the next week, he'll go for less than 100 yards and 3 or 4 interceptions. But, the Ravens find ways to win 10 games every year and I don't see that changing this season. The Pittsburgh Steelers have to deal with a suspension to running back LeVeon Bell, only two games, but it will still hurt. They still have Ben Roesthliberger at QB, but he's old and, while never the fastest guy out there, seems to get slower every season. Antonio Brown is a great receiver, one of the best in the league, and will stretch the field on defenses all season. The Steelers should be good for 9 to 11 wins this season. The Cincinnati Bengals are a very predictable team. They will look very good at times. Andy Dalton will be a decent QB, but make his typical mistakes. AJ Green is an electric receiver and catches some of the worst throws in the NFL and Giovanni Bernard is going to be a star. Their defense is worrisome. They got older and their big off season acquisition of AJ Hawk doesn't make them any better. He's old and the rest of that defense is getting older. They will be good for 10 or 11 wins and probably crap out in the first round of the playoffs again. Last, and certainly least, is the Cleveland Browns. They're a joke of a franchise and be it Johnny Manziel(please God no!) or Josh McCown at QB, it doesn't matter, the Browns stink. They have no receivers, no real running game, and stink on defense. If they win 5 games I will be shocked. This division will be tough, minus the Browns, but this seems to be Pittsburgh's last shot and I think they win 11 games and the division.
Next we have the AFC South. This is a division with one, maybe two real teams, but really, the South is owned by the Indianapolis Colts. Their only real threat in the Houston Texans, and that's a reach. There's also the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars upgraded their offense by signing Julius Thomas, but Blake Bortles needs at least one more season to get his feet wet and the defense isn't ready yet. It will be another 4 or 5 win season for the Jaguars. The Titans are being led by a rookie QB in Marcus Mariota, and while he may be good, when your team is being led by a rookie, with no weapons on offense around him, it's going to be a long, tough season. Their defense is pretty awful as well. They'd be lucky to win 3 or 4 games this year. The Texans have one of the best defenses in the league, led by all world defensive end JJ Watt. They are pretty stout on the line, have good linebackers and a pretty decent secondary. Offense is where the problem lies. They do have a good running back in Arian Foster, when he's not hurt, and a great up and coming receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, but who's going to be the QB? Ryan Mallet or Brian Hoyer are the two choices, and I don't think either of them have played, or are good enough to win in this league. The Texans will be better, but anything more than 9 wins would be surprising. The Colts are the class of the division. They have an explosive offense led by Andrew Luck. They have receivers like TY Hilton and signed Andre Johnson this offseason. They do a running back by committee, but this is a passing offense. Their defense is bend, but don't break and they play it very well. The Colts will win 12 games easily this season and win the AFC South running away.
The final division is the AFC West. This is another two team division, but can anybody really beat the Denver Broncos. Their only competition will be the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers drafted Melvin Gordon this draft and he will be a big upgrade for them at the running back position. They just locked down Phillip Rivers to a long term deal and he is a great QB in this league. Their defense in just okay. They will win at least 10 games this season, but the 4 game suspension to Antonio Gates will hurt their passing game. The Broncos are led by Peyton Manning. He's one of the best QB's of all time and he continues to churn out 4,000 yard and 35 touchdown seasons. Montee Ball should bounce back after an injury plagued, subpar season. While they lost Julius Thomas, they still have Demayrius Thomas and a bunch of other great receivers. The defense is led by Von Miller, and they are stout in all three phases of defense. Hiring Gary Kubiak won't change this team much at all. They should be a 12 or 13 win team again. The other two teams in the division are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs are competitive, but they are pretty stale. Alex Smith is not a great QB, they don't score with their passing game, and there's only so much Jamal Charles can do. Their defense is okay, but not great. 8 or 9 wins is their best possible outcome. The Raiders are still a joke, but they seem like they're trying to get better. Derek Carr could still be a good QB and drafting Amari Cooper and signing Michael Crabtree will help. The running game is still a work in progress. The defense is not that good and that will keep them back. But, linebacker Khalil Mack is going to be a star in this league. 5 or 6 wins would be a good season for the Raiders. The Broncos will continue to win this conference as long as Peyton Manning is the QB.
So, the four division winners, the Dolphins, the Steelers, the Colts and the Broncos will all be in the playoffs and the two wild cards will be, the Chargers and the Patriots. The Bengals and Ravens will get shut out. The Colts and Broncos will have the first round byes. The Chargers will beat the Dolphins and the Steelers will beat the Patriots. In the next round, The Colts will beat the Chargers and the Broncos will beat the Steelers. In the AFC Championship, the Colts will beat the Broncos and find themselves in the Super Bowl.
Come back tomorrow for some NFC action.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and co-host of the X Millennial Man podcast. Is he going to pick Green bay for the NFC, I think he is going to pick Green Bay. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik.