The NFL is back this week. It’s Browns and Eagles down at the Lakefront! Woof, woof, woof! We’re wrapping up our preview of the NFL by taking a closer look at the teams from the American Football Conference. Andrew Luck, Peyton in Denver, Tebow is a Jet. The Patriots. And of course, the AFC North. Will T-Rich, BW3 and company lift the Browns to new heights? It’s GameTime!
note: we recorded this episode before the Browns’ cuts were announced.
Q1: AFC East
- Buffalo, Miami, New England and NY Jets.
- Buffalo made a splash by signing Mario Williams from the Texans. But after their good start in 2011, they fell. HARD. Can they really compete in a division that Tom Brady owns and that Rex Ryan wants to own?
- Ryan Tannehill is the choice in Miami. After Peyton Manning. And Matt Flynn. And anyone else that was available. The Dolphins were so desperate at WR that they took a shot at Chad Johnson. They need more time to rebuild in South Beach. Maybe they should call LeBron.
- Is Rex Ryan a mad scientist or is he just mad? We’ll find out this year with the combo of Sanchez and Tebow taking snaps for the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.
- Tom Brady would probably love to have five TEs on the field if he could. Who knows, Belichick could probably figure out a way to pull that off and still win. This is the Patriots division again, right?
Q2: AFC West
- Denver, Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego.
- This was a weak division last year. How weak? The Broncos won it with Tim Tebow at the helm!
- That means the Broncos had to be a pretty good team in spite of their QB. So a healthy Peyton Manning ought to make them Division Champions again in 2012, right?
- Kansas City should have a running game like Mack and Byner with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis in the backfield. If they are both healthy.
- The Raiders are relying on Carson Palmer and yet another new coach. Can Darren McFadden stay healthy?
- We’re not picking the Chargers any more. We don’t care how awesome those powder blue jerseys with the white helmets look. They are the AFC version of the Cowboys. Underachievers.
Q3: AFC South
- Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Tennessee
- This conference should belong to the Texans for a few years. Look how far they got last year without Mario Williams and Matt Shaub! A healthy QB should make a big difference in 2012.
- Andrew Luck has some talent around him. But it should take a few years for their rebuild to be complete.
- Tennessee will go with Jake Locker. As long as he wins. They can always call on the bullpen with Hasselback. But what happened to Chris Johnson? Oh yeah, he got paid!
- Jacksonville is a mess. Heck, they are calling London home for one game every year for the next four. Blaine Gabbert? Really?
Q4: AFC North
- Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
- The Ravens will have to do without Defensive Player of the Year Terrelle Suggs. And everyone else is a year older. It sure would help them if Joe Flacco could step it up and let the offense win some games for a change.
- Will the Bengals fall back a little after nice rookie seasons from Dalton and AJ Green? It seemed like the League caught up to them towards the end of the year. We’ll see if they can step it up or follow the paths that KC and Tampa took after making the playoffs two years ago.
- Pat Shurmur needs to win a lot this year to stay on as Head Coach. He’s going to have to do so with a bunch of rookies on offense. That’s not a good recipe for success. But if Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon are something special, then new Owner Jimmy Haslam just might have something to build a winner with.
- Pittsburgh has some injuries to deal with. They are turning to two rookies on the O Line to keep Big Ben healthy. That kind of gamble usually is reserved for Vegas. But the Steelers organization usually knows things that others don’t. So we’ll see if this works. We’re sure not about to call them old again. But that has to be true one of these years, right?