2012 AFC Overview
I’m not generally one for predictions. I don’t prognosticate nearly as well as others. But I do have opinions, and that’s what I’m going to share with you, is my thoughts on each team in the NFL. Today, I’m going to do the AFC. When inspiration hits me, I’ll do the NFC.
This is my uneducated opinion. I haven’t done any research into the teams yet. When I do, I might go into more detail. For now, this is what you get.
Buffalo Bills: If nothing else, they should be solid defensively. My memory tells me that they have a strong secondary and they added Mario Williams in the off-season. Is Ryan Fitzpatrick still the guy there? Or has Vince Young wrested the reins? I like their running back tandem but the most notable receiver they have is notable because he acts like Chad Johnson off the field.
Miami Dolphins: I think they are going to be a terrible team. But they should be able to get after the quarterback. Cameron Wake didn’t do as well last year as the year before, but he’s still an incredible talent. I am not at all surprised that Tannehill beat out Matt Moore for the starting QB job. I did hear that the only reason he’s starting is because Garrard got hurt. They should be really good at screen passes since Reggie Bush doesn’t drop the ball a whole lot but I would have to check who they have behind him that can run when Bush falters between the tackles.
New England Patriots: While they may not be the best team in the NFL (though they might be) they seem to have an uncanny knack to reload with consistent performers wherever there’s a need. I can’t really think of a weakness on this team other than maybe running back, which isn’t a position that has stirred the drink for the Patriots since Curtis Martin played there.
New York Jets: I remember when Buddy Ryan was the head coach for the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals. The first cople years were pretty god. The Defense was amazing. Then the holes in Ryan’s coaching showed up. The guy didn’t care about offense. It became apparent that he should be a coordinator and nothing more. Doesn’t it kinda feel the same way with the Jets, coached by Rex Ryan?
Cleveland Browns: When I think of teams that have re-tooled and are ready for the season, strangely enough, I don’t think of the Cleveland Browns. I have heard good things about Trent Richardson, but I think the team should be banned from taking any more quarterbacks in the draft. I don’t know who they have on defense. I know they either didn’t re-sign or traded Peyton Hillis which was a bit baffling, and that they spent another first-rounder on a quarterback less than a year after saying that Colt McCoy was their guy.
Cincinnati Bengals: Despite the bone that I have to pick with the Bengals, I really like what I’ve seen from them. I don’t think they’re good enough to go to the Superbowl, but they have a good chance to take that division. Andy Dalton is a strong quarterback and AJ Green is a little scary. Probably they overpaid Benjarvus Green-Ellis, but Maurice Jones-Drew has two last names and he does pretty well, so we’ll see how that works out for them. Their defense is pretty strong — I love Rey Maualuga — and their secondary has enough weapons that they barely miss Jonathan Joseph.
Baltimore Ravens: Ray Lewis continues to attempt to stave off Father Time by dropping weight. I have no doubt that he’ll continue to be effective but if this continues, he’ll be fighting Ed Reed for playing time at safety. It’s entirely possible that Flacco isn’t overrated, but that’s likely because of the large wave of people who have started calling him overrated. He’s got a strong arm and that helps him get the ball to his speed demons. Given that one of those speed demons is Jacoby Jones, I can see them dropping at least one game because of some boneheaded play. They’re a good team with good talent, but they seem really thin past the starters.
Pittsburgh Steelers: I can say candidly that throughout my years cheering for the Houston Oilers, I didn’t hate any team more than I hated the Pittsburgh Steelers. That ended when the moving vans showed up at the Astrodome and pulled my team out of Houston. I still cheer against them more often than not but my dislike is more rational and I can appreciate the string of success that they have had over the years. They are a good enough team that I have almost no doubt that they’ll contend for the division.
Houston Texans: I won’t pretend that I’m neutral or unbiased. I’m a Texans fan. I thin that this year presents more reason for optimism as a Texans fan than any other. The defense, which was ridiculously good last year, looks to be even better this year, with an offseason of coaching and the further development of JJ Watt, Connor Barwin, and some of the younger players on the D. The offense is lights-out and if Schaub can stay healthy, along with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, the sky is the limit. I’m going to keep my filthy mouth shut regarding predictions but I like what I can see.
Indianapolis Colts: Schadenfreude is ugly. All I’ll say is this: Manning is such an impact player that the other players voted him as the 50th best player in a season he didn’t play. Without him, they were pathetic. Anemic on defense, unable to run the ball, and those receivers that everyone drooled over were exposed as mediocre. Manning going out cost the coach and the GM their job, as it should have since they spent years and years not planning for any kind of contingency.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I don’t really know what to make of this team. For a team that has drafted SO MANY wide receivers in the first round, the fact that they were applauded for taking a receiver in the first round is a little weird. When I say that I don’t know what to make of them, it’s pretty much obvious. Gabbert played last year but didn’t show much. Jones-Drew might not play this year. Blackmon, the receiver they took, is a rookie. There is nothing really that anyone can say definitively about this offense. Defensively, I think that their personality left with Del Rio. The hope, I suppose, is that they can turn it around and get some kind of an identity.
Tennessee Titans: I am probably tied for the least surprised person in the world that Jake Locker “beat out” Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback position. That seems like a decision that was made by Bud “Jabba the Hut” Adams. Rather than letting him sit the bench and maybe learn the game from a quarterback who generally makes good decisions when they don’t involve tough talk at the overtime coin flip, they are throwing him to the wolves. It seems like they’ve lost all of the identity they had as a defense when Schwartz was the DC and Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch were making quarterbacks’ lives a living hell. Chris Johnson is apparently all the way back up to speed but it really looked like defenses learned how to contain his speed and he kinda looked a little scared last year. Obviously he’s a big talent but he’d better take this season seriously because the clock is ticking.
Denver Broncos: Generally, when you call a football player “no-neck” it’s because they’re huge. In Peyton Manning’s case, it means something totally different. If he’s back, they’ll probably take the division in a walk. If not, it’ll be a slog. But this team did make the playoffs with Tim Tebow as quarterback. Thomas is a good receiver but he’ll have to get better at playing in a system if he wants to get along with Manning. The defense is good enough to win games all by itself.
Kansas City Chiefs: I don’t really understand this team. I want to say that they’re good but thin on defense. But they have good running backs. And Dwayne Bowe. I really don’t know enough about them. Maybe when I’ve looked into the roster, I’ll have a better idea.
Oakland Raiders: A team that has lost an identity. A quarterback whose arm has gone away. A running back or two that have health issues. A defense that is awesome. Or terrible. They won more games last year than I expected them to. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Palmer will put it all together and start throwing darts out there. Or maybe Pryor will be more prepared than I expect him to. I just hope they don’t dedicate the season to Al Davis’s memory because this could get embarrassing.
San Diego Chargers: Let’s see… Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews. I can’t think of any other “skill position” players on offense. I don’t have any idea who their receivers are. I do like Marcus McNeil on the o-line but that’s about it. Rivers gives them a chance every game. I hate the guy but he’s a good passer. I don’t know enough about the defense. Nothing stands out in my memory about them that makes me think they’ll compete for the division. Norv Turner still has a job which is surprising.