By Jake Brown
The NFL season has finally arrived. The Giants and Cowboys kick off the season Wednesday night in Dallas. It is expected to be a great season with lots of good competition this year. Picking a winner in 2012 is a lot harder than in years past. The parity in the league is as good as it has ever been. Here are my AFC predictions.
The Patriots have only got better this offseason coming off their Super Bowl loss to the Giants. They added tight end VisantheShiancoe to add to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. If three tight ends is not enough, they also added wide receiver Brandon Lloyd to join Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. Their offense is scary good. Expect the Pats to win the division at 13-3 this season.
The Jets offense is a mystery as they did not provide much of it in the preseason. The wildcat is being saved for the regular season, which could be huge for Gang Green. Without enough wide receiving depth though the Jets offense will not put up a lot of points. Good that they have one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. Their defense will lead them to a 10-6 record this year and a wild card spot.
It is going to be another year where the Ravens and Steelers go at it for the division title. The Ravens did not do much this offseason, but they did add Jacoby Jones at wide receiver. They still have that dominant defense and Joe Flacco has another year of NFL experience under his belt. After an undefeated season at home last season as well as a division title, expect the Ravens to win the division again with an 11-5 record.
The Steelers are still the Steelers and they still have Big Ben. While Pittsburg did not do a lot this offseason, they still have their great defense led by Troy Polamalu. With their tough schedule this year, expect the Steelers to finish 10-6 this year and take the second wild card spot.
The Texans were cruising last year until their quarterback Matt Schaub went down with injury. With Schaub back this season to go along with one of the best running backs in the game in Arian Foster and arguably the best receiver in the game in Andre Johnson, the Texans offense is dangerous. Expect the Texans to be right behind the Patriots in the AFC with a 11-5 record.
While the Titans could be pretty good this year and the Colts improving with Andrew Luck taking over at quarterback, don’t expect much of a divisional race in the AFC South this season. The Titans, with Jake Locker leading them at quarterback, should finish with an 8-8 season with the Colts finishing 7-9.
With Peyton Manning joining the Broncos, the AFC West will be one of the better divisional races in the NFL. The Broncos won the division and won a road playoff game in Pittsburgh with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Expect them to do some damage in the AFC this year if Peyton Manning stays healthy. Their defense was superb last year once Tebow became the starting QB. Expect the Broncos to come away with this division with a 10-6 record.
The Raiders will be close behind with Carson Palmer getting the entire year under center. We know their offense can put up points, but there defense is a big question mark. Expect the Raiders to finish at 9-7 just missing out on the playoffs. Expect the Chargers and Chiefs to be right behind with 8-8 records.
The Patriots are just too good on offense. Tom Brady has too many targets and too much hardware. Expect an epic Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady playoff matchup this January with Brady coming out on top. It will be a great January in the AFC, but expect the Pats to take the AFC trophy and go on to take the Vince Lombardi trophy.
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