After a long and interesting offseason, the NFL finally kicked off on Thursday night as the defending champion Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers. The remainder of Week 1 will be in full gear tomorrow so here is my division by division preview of the 2014 NFL Season.
Perennial AFC powerhouse New England made some noise this offseason by acquiring star cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to bolster their defense, while signing Brandon Lafell, resigning top receiver Julian Edelman, and trading for tight end Timothy Wright to improve the offense. With a slew of offensive weapons that also include Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Rob Gronkowski, quarterback Tom Brady should have no problem on the offensive side this year, assuming everyone remains healthy. I don’t think the Patriots will necessarily run away with this division though, I expect the Jets and Dolphins, who both finished at 8-8 last year and improved in the offseason, to be decent teams this year. The Bills on the other hand, without a legitimate quarterback and their best defensive player on injured reserve, will finish last again, although one bright spot could be rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins if he stays healthy.
Ok, I admit I’m trolling a little bit by using Manziel as the picture for the AFC North preview, but I honestly believe that he could end up as a starter in a division that is up for grabs this year. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or Cincinnati all have a great shot at winning this division, and if Manziel has a great season and Josh Gordon comes back under a new drug policy, you can’t rule out Cleveland either. Ultimately, I think this division will eventually come down to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh as the Ravens just don’t have a good quarterback and their offense will struggle. I like Pittsburgh to go 10-6 and win the division because they finished strong last year and have missed the playoffs three straight years in a LONG time. Two time super bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger is still capable of putting up big numbers and rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton has potential for a big year as a starter.
I have been a huge JaDaveon Clowney fan since the borderline criminal hit against Michigan two years ago. I think he will easily win defensive rookie of the year, however I don’t expect much else from the Texans this year. With the loss of Matt Schaub to the Raiders and injury prone players like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, they will be competing with the Jaguars and for third place in the division, with Tennessee not too far ahead. Andrew Luck will once again lead the Colts to the division title, although with an ineffective Trent Richardson and loss of Donald Brown to the Chargers, they will have to rely on Ahmad Bradshaw if they want to have any type of ground game.
The AFC West will be the best division in the AFC. Three teams from this division made the playoffs last year and there is a good chance it will happen again this year. Although they won’t put up the numbers they did last year, the Broncos will once again win the division with a great offense and improved defense but will face tough competition from San Diego. The Chargers split the regular season series last year including a win at Denver in prime time. With young weapons on the offensive side in Keenan Allen, Ryan Matthews, and Ladarius Green, I think Philip Rivers is due for an MVP type season. I think the Chiefs will be average at best, and the Raiders may surprise some people this year if Matt Schaub has a bounce back season and Maurice Jones-Drew lights it up on the offensive side.
1. New England Patriots
2. Denver Broncos
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. San Diego Chargers
6. New York Jets
AFC Champion: San Diego Chargers
Let me know what you guys think of the AFC this year in the comments down below. Please like the post, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.