With the NFC all wrapped up in a nice little bow for you all, it is time for us to take a good long look at the AFC. For years, the AFC has been the stronger of the two conferences. High flying offensive juggernauts and hard hitting, lighting fast defenses are the coin of the realm in the AFC. But it is a feast or famine conference, with teams bottle necking as they climb to the top (at times leaving 11-5 teams on the outside looking in on a playoff run).
So how do these teams stack up. Who will make it out alive and into post season glory? Will the Steelers, fresh off yet another Super Bowl run have enough to go on another? Or will the return of be too much to this conference to swallow...
Last season in Week One, rabid fans in Buffalo, Miami, and New York let out a collective sigh of relief as the NFL's Golden Boy, Tom Brady, proved his mortality and blew out his knee- sidelining him for the season. But then Matt Cassel started playing and things went kind of back to normal (if by normal you mean with New England usually winning). But this season Tom Brady returns, healthy, rested, and eager to feed the NFL a shit sandwich yet again. Now in order to do so, the Patriots have to get past Miami, New York, and Buffalo. This is like being told you get a million dollars by beating one of Jerry's Kids in a foot race.
The J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets! are fielding a rookie quarterback, so their season is screwed (I know, I know... Matt Ryan... Joe Flaco... A lifetime of failure does not get rewritten because of two isolated incidents). And speaking of a lifetime of failure, the Bills are not scaring anyone- even with T.O. catching passes for them this season. This leaves only the Dolphins to stand up to Brady and his charmed existence...
Only this ain't Dan Marino's Dolphins... Or even Ace Ventura's Dolphins... this is Chad Pennington's Dolphins. And if there is one thing about Chad Pennington that we can count on is his inability string together one productive season after another. Make book, but November Pat White will be helming this squad.
AFC East winner: New England Patriots.
Without a doubt, the most competitive division in the league, the AFC South boasts three early Super Bowl favorites... and Houston. But despite the closeness of the three teams (and Houston), there is always a clear cut winner, and this case is no different.
Houston is Houston... an underachieving team which does just fine in out of division games but shits the bed the second it has to play anyone in their bracket. Houston will be a celler dweller until this league unless they manage to find a way to get past Indy, Tennessee, and Jacksonville... and there is little reason to think that this season is going to be any different. Jacksonville, as a city, is both smelly and trashy. So it is little doubt that the always second best team in this division (as they never could get past Indy) would eventually begin to mirror its host city. Mired in mediocrity, this team is in desperate need of a new direction (and the losing season it is going to produce is all but going to guarantee it).
This leaves you only Tennessee and Indy to try and sort out.
Both teams are strong; Tennessee with their fierce defense and lighting fast running attack and Indy with their machine like offensive marches up the field. But Indy's defense is far from fierce, leaving them to again watch and Tennessee makes another go at it.
AFC South winner: Tennessee Titans.
Ahh, the AFC North. Better known as the Ugly City Division, this division is not really worth a full break down. Cincinnati was bogged down with injuries and egos and has been for a few years now. And with Carson Palmer not yet having shown anyone an ability to make it through an entire season without the wheels falling off and Chad Ochocinco not being able to play well with anyone, it is only fitting that we demand that they show us they can do something before we pay them any mind. Same thing goes for Cleveland, waiting until the last minute to name a starting quarterback. Cincinnati and Cleveland... horrible cities, worse teams.
This leaves you the honor of picking between Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Strong defenses, solid running attacks, and quarterbacks that are asked to do little more than stand there and not fuck up. Picking a winner between these two is no small feat. For years now, it has come down to the last few games of the season before one of these two rises above the other. Combine the fact that there can be only one with the intangibles that the Steelers are bringing with them (having won it all before, having their star quarterback mentioned in an unfounded rape allegation, and their star defensive player being featured on the cover of Madden this season and it all but spells doom.
AFC North Winner: Baltimore Ravens (but not by much...)
What is it about the West and shitty football teams??? If the NFC West was Charmin soft, then the AFC West is a laughable joke. Really it is. The Raiders are a literal abomination, with coaches fighting coaches, players stealing money, fans worshipping the Devil in the stadium, and all of it being done under the watchful eye of Al Davis, who I am pretty sure keeps himself alive by drinking the blood of green eyed asian girls. The Chiefs are no better. Sure they spent a small fortune on Matt Cassel, but for what? They have zero defense to speak of, a running back that has been utterly worthless to them, and wide receivers that can't catch.
All this means is that the AFC West is a footrace between the San Diego Super Chargers and the Denver Broncos. San Diego has been pretty good these past few seasons. Great quarterback (Philip Rivers), record breaking running back (LaDainain Tomlinson) and a bevy of not too shabby receivers are what the Chargers bring to the table, which is not bad. But then there is that defense of theirs that went from NFL darling to liability seemingly with the loss of Shawne Merriman (due to a steroid suspension followed by season ending injury). And it looks like they may have to be without him again, as VH1 and MySpace star Tila Tequila has accused him of assault, claiming that the NFL star choked her, and had him arrested.
The Broncos, on the other hand, spent the off season getting to know its new coach as well as figuring out exactly where trading Jay Cutler Kyle Orton is a fair trade. They still boast a talent laden running corps and the greatest home field advantage in the league (thin air one mile up), but not much else.
Someone has to win in this mess, and it is easier to make the case for San Diego being able to outscore its opponents than it is to say that would.
AFC West winner: San Diego Chargers.