It seems difficult pinpointing the definite favorite in the AFC since Brady and Manning will be unavailable for the first four games. Furthermore, it remains unclear which team will represent each conference in Houston for February’s Super Bowl even with the regular season almost beginning. The Denver Broncos are aspiring to become the first team to defend the title since New England enjoyed that feat in 2004-05. However, Peyton Manning retirement will make things difficult for them, along with Brock Osweiler who left for Houston even as NFL expert picks remain vigilant in the league.
Meanwhile, the Broncos and Gary Kubiak have focused on refurbishing their QB mix, which consist of the experienced Mark Sanchez, rookie Paxton Lynch and last year’s seventh-rounder Trevor Siemian. Sanchez said that their mix will help to coordinate the team effectively to win games irrespective of their opponents. Since the Broncos have the best defense in the NFL, this could reduce worries about their quarterback situation, especially with the arrival of Von Miller, the Super Bowl MVP. Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator, said that the team is not worried about their defense, but they are worried about their quality of play. Therefore, the team must outsmart their opponent defenses so that they hold down their efforts during the game.
As the regular season approaches, New England have already pinpointed Jimmy Garoppolo as the QB to stand in for Tom Brady. Even after topping their division for the past seven years, Garoppolo’s inclusion seems to weaken the Patriots stronghold on the AFC East. However, you can never dismiss the tactics implemented by coach Bill Belichick, said Corey Graham, the Buffalo safety. Graham praises Belichick as the best coach who will always execute his plans for a winning challenge.
Just like other teams, Pittsburgh have the opportunity to clinch the AFC crown, but Ben Roethlisberger must maintain his health first. Last season, the Steelers had a 10-6 record and won a playoff game even though their playmaking QB did not play much throughout the year thanks to injuries. The most vibrant player in the NFL, wide receiver Antonio Brown, managed to catch 136 passes for 1834 yards to break his own franchise records. Running back LeVeon Bell should also boost the team’s confidence after recuperating from torn knee ligaments, but he is suspended for the opening three games of the regular season due to skipping several drug tests.
QB Andy Dalton’s broken thumb has healed perfectly even though the injury ruled him out of their game against the Steelers, which they lost. He had already set a team record before his December injury, with a 106.3 passer rating. Coach Marvin Lewis will have to focus on the offense this season after coordinator Hue Jackson left for the top job in Cleveland. Furthermore, as free agents, wide receivers Mohamed Sanu (Falcons) and Marvin Jones (Lions) signed elsewhere.
On the other hand, the AFC South remains a fifty-fifty contest, with Indianapolis Andrew Luck returning injury after missing out for the better part of last season. QB Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller should boost the Houston, along with J.J. Watt, the veteran defensive end who should resume his duties after recuperating from his back surgery. Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles performed tremendously in his breakthrough season for the Jacksonville, and with wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, their joint 24 touchdown catches should also reflect their goo performance this season. Kansas City might take full advantage of any slip-ups by Denver in the AFC West. KC only required one win to clinch the AFC title game in the absence of injured running back Jamaal Charles. With QB Derek Carr leading, Oakland looks dangerous as well.