Here I will predict the order of each division in the AFC.
I think the Denver Broncos will once again win the AFC West. If Peyton Manning returns next year they will be hard to beat. The Broncos just dominated New England and I don’t know if anyone can beat them.
I think the San Diego Chargers will be better next year. Philip Rivers looked rejuvenated after new head coach Mike McCoy took them to the playoffs in his first season. Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen both had great seasons. The Chargers just need to improve on defense and they will be major contenders.
The Kansas City Chiefs will finish in a close third place. Andy Reid has done a great job there, but it won’t be enough to beat the Broncos or Chargers.
Wrapping up the division is the Oakland Raiders. I can’t think of any bright spots on that team besides the high draft choice they have.
My AFC North pick may surprise you. I think the Cleveland Browns will win for a few reasons. They have a new coach and two first round draft picks, one of which is number four. Last year before Brian Hoyer went down, I thought the Browns were going to win the division. They have a good defense and they should be able to improve a lot. Hopefully the new coach hire will be able to turn things around.
I think the Cincinnati Bengals will be 9-7 at best. I don’t look at Andy Dalton as an elite quarterback. The Bengals lost both of their offensive and defensive coordinators and that could be costly.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will finish 8-8 I think. Ben Roethlisberger is key. The health of the defense is another key. They came close to the playoffs this year and it is a possibility next year.
Joe Flacco will have a really bad season. The Ravens will wish they hadn’t paid him that huge contract when they finish fourth.
The Houston Texans are my pick to go from worst to first. The roster is loaded, they have the number one overall pick and they have new head coach Bill O’Brien. I think 2013 was a fluke, and that Houston will get back to normal. I could see them finishing 13-3.
I think the Indianapolis Colts will go 11-5 with Andrew Luck having a great season. I also expect Donald Brown to have a great year.
Next year could be a big year for the Jacksonville Jaguars. I think they will progress a lot and go 8-8. They finished last season winning four of their final eight games. If some of their past young high draft choices can produce, then this team could get pretty dangerous pretty quick.
I don’t think the Tennessee Titans will have a good year. Unless Jake Locker can put up good numbers, their season looks doomed.
I think the New England Patriots will win the AFC East and it won’t be close. Tom Brady didn’t have many options this year and he still took them to the AFC championship game.
I think the remaining teams will all finish roughly 8-8. The Miami Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill who almost led them to the playoffs this year.
The New York Jets really surprised me last season. If Geno Smith can have a good season, the Jets could make the playoffs.
The Buffalo Bills have tons of potential. E.J. Manuel missed a good portion of last season. He looked like a pretty good player when he was healthy.
I think the Broncos will have the number one seed. They should be followed by New England in the two seed. The Texans and Browns will take the three and four seeds. The Colts will have the best record among non-division winners and will take the first wild card seed. I think the second wild card seed will go to the Chargers again.
For now, there is still the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl to look forward to.
You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP