Matt DiLeo gives his preseason AFC predictions and previews for the 2019-20 NFL season.
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The time is almost here, and I can almost taste the burgers, hot dogs, and beer that comes with the wonderful football season. We watched Tom Brady carry the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl win in convincing fashion. Every time we count out the Patriots they always seem to come around when it matters most and stab the hearts of football fans across America. Will this year be any different? I feel like we say this every year, but there has to be an end to this pattern sooner or later, and for the sake of football fans everywhere; let’s certainly hope so.
In this article I will go into division by division breakdowns and then who I think will come out of the AFC and punch their ticket into the Super Bowl. Here goes nothing.
15 of the last 16 years have been utterly dominated by the Patriots and this year most likely won’t be any different. The Bills, Jets, and Dolphins all have 2nd year quarterbacks who aren’t fully developed yet, which means in the next couple of years this division should be very competitive; just not this year.
The only team that everyone considers a dark horse would be the New York Jets. They went out and got Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder to surround Sam Darnold and see if he is the real deal or not. Although Le’Veon Bell may come with a lot of drama, so does New York. He should fit right in. I do think they will be dangerous this year, but I think the ceiling would be a wild card spot. They should be very scary after this year.
The Bills had a terrific offseason as well as they didn’t lose much talent but got more support for Josh Allen if he stays healthy. The Bills won 6 games last year and after patching up some of the holes in their team they might be a borderline wildcard team come December.
The Dolphins should get the #1 Pick next year and I love their new QB and that’s pretty much all I have to say about Miami.
Take the Patriots and the veterans to keep on rolling.
Pick: New England Patriots
This is the most interesting division in all of football. The reason why? The Browns are finally relevant. Yes, you heard me. The Browns have a young QB who is out to prove himself and he may have the best wide receiver core in the league. Their defense was solid last year and if they can figure out the locker room, Watch out.
The Ravens have shipped off Joe Flacco which allows them to move on from that era and on to the Lamar Jackson era. He showed signs of greatness last year, but also signs of immaturity on the field. Their defense kept them alive last season and it could be the same story this year. Jackson should be a hit or miss next season and so should the Ravens.
The Steelers finally let go of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and we won’t find out if that will be a good move until after this season plays out. Big Ben showed us he still has plenty left in the tank, and James Conner proved that he is a starting Running Back as well. As long as they can have Big Ben stay healthy, they should be contending for the division and I might tune in to watch every divisional game between those 3 teams.
The Bengals are only as good as AJ Green and Andy Dalton take them and on that note they will be a .500 team at best.
I am skeptical about picking the Browns because they have so many wild cards about them. However, so do the Steelers and the Ravens. I am going to take the young QB with a chip on his shoulder and 2 of the best Wide Receivers in the league. I can’t believe I am saying this, but…
Pick: Cleveland Browns
The Colts finally protected Andrew Luck and he was finally healthy for a whole season. The Colts have added more pieces and should be ready to contend again. They have the 4th best odds to win the Super Bowl right now according to ESPN and that isn’t a fluke.
The Texans won the division, but I think they are going to stumble a bit next year and have some struggles. Deshaun Watson needs to get back to his rookie form and without that, they won’t be a threat to Indianapolis.
The Jaguars could have a surge of new energy with Nick Foles in town, but they looked absolutely terrible last season and they might need a season to figure things out.
The Titans and Marcus Mariota seem to be in every single game and wind up losing. I don’t see this pattern breaking as I don’t think Mariota will be the QB much longer.
You can’t help but love Andrew Luck and the Colts. They are definitely good enough, and sometimes you just need a little LUCK.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts
The Chiefs took the league by storm last year with rookie Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leading the way. They were a couple of bad calls away from defeating the Patriots and going to the Super Bowl. They are the favorites to take home the trophy next year and for good reason.
The Chargers were a close second to the Chiefs last year but fell short against the Patriots in the playoffs. This is a reoccurring pattern for Philip Rivers, and I am waiting for him to finally make a playoff run. They didn’t get as much credit as they deserved due to the media all of the Chiefs, but I think this year might be the year Philip Rivers finally does it.
The Raiders got Antonio Brown and have a wonderful fan base. The hype might be there, but the talent is not.
The Broncos are trying desperately to get back to Super Bowl form, they just cannot find a QB. They should be mediocre at best, but dangerous at home as always.
I think the Chargers and Chiefs will contend for the division and the Super Bowl. I think both of these teams will make the playoffs again as well. However, I think Mahomes has a bit of a sophomore slump and they will miss Kareem Hunt dearly. Take the Chargers as I think they are a Super Bowl Dark horse and a real threat to every team in the league.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers
This is the time of year where everyone is back on the Patriots bandwagon. However, I think they will miss Gronk’s presence come playoff time. I think the Patriots will get trumped by the Colts or the Chargers. I think the Browns will be a fun team to watch, but a deep playoff run doesn’t seem to be in the books; at least this season. If the playoff bracket shapes itself in a way where the Colts will face off against the Chargers in the AFC championship game, I would predict that. If they are on the same side, I would predict one of those 2 teams to take down the Patriots to earn a spot in the biggest game of the year.
My final prediction: Chargers over Colts in AFC Championship game.
Take a look at my NFC prediction article to see who I think will face the Chargers in the Super Bowl! Thanks for reading, and If I don’t see ya, good morning, good evening, and good night.