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Andy Capwell’s AFC Football Predictions

Getty Images, Rick Stewart

If we could just bottle this time of year up and let it loose during cabin fever in February. Summer is still in full swing , the baseball pennant races are heating up and the NFL is gearing up to kickoff their season! Get extra batteries for the remote control!It’s always fun to try and predict what the season will bring. Here’s my look at the AFC.

AFC East:
1. New England Patriots: There have been plenty of changes on the Patriots. With the loss of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd, Tom Brady will have to work with a young crop of receivers. Also, the health of ‘Gronk’ is a big key to the offense. The running game looks solid with Ridley and Blount. I think the front seven on defense will be strong. The secondary is still the weak link of the team but got better with the signing of Adrian Wilson.

2. Buffalo Bills: I really like the Bills offense. CJ Spiller will be featured more this season and is a top ten RB. QB is a question mark on the Bills, will they start rookie EJ Manuel or Kevin Kolb? I think Manuel will end up starting by the end of the season. The defense that was horrible last season, just has too much talent to be that bad again. The Bills will have a shot at a winning record.

3. Miami Dolphins: Plenty of ‘experts’ are picking the Dolphins as a playoff team. Not so fast. The loss of TE Dustin Keller is going to hurt. They did pick up WR Mike Wallace but the QB position is just average at best. The RB roster will rely a lot on rookie Lamar Miller. The defense is solid. The should be a .500 team at best

4. New York Jets: On paper should look really bad. Who will be the starting QB? Mark Sanchez or rookie Geno Smith. Chris Ivory will be the featured RB, the crop of WR’s aren’t very impressive but the Jets defense is very solid. I’ll pick them last but I do think they might be a little better than most people think.

 

AFC North:

1. Cincinnati Bengals: I think Andy Dalton will continue to improve and WR A.J. Green is one of the 5 best receivers in the league. The offensive line is solid and the Bengals defense ranked 6th last season. This division is going to be exciting to watch and I’ll pick the Bengals to squeeze out a division win.

2. Baltimore Ravens: The defending Superbowl champions still have QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice. The Ravens lost some offensive weapons with TE Dennis Pitta (to injury) and Anquan Boldin (to free agency). The defense should still be good despite the retirement of Ray Lewis.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers defense was ranked number 1 last season and should be solid again with a healthy Troy Polamalu. The big concern is on offense, with a weak offensive line, a young group of running backs and the loss of Mike Wallace at wide receiver. Big Ben is going to have to carry the load. I see at best 9 wins.

4. Cleveland Browns: I almost picked them third, I think they will be improved this season. Brandon Weeden will look to improve on a so-so rookie season. Second year running back Trent Richardson is only going to get better. The team is young and lookout for the Browns in a couple of seasons. I can see maybe 6 or 7 wins this season.

AFC South:

1. Houston Texans: The defense is lead by JJ Watt and the offense has plenty of weapons with Adrian Foster , Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. This team should win at least 11 games and in the playoffs.

2. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck made a huge impact in his rookie season and a new ‘west coast’ offense should improve his stats. The running game has always been a weak part of their offense and they will look for former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw to change that. The defense was ranked 26th last year and they shouldn’t be much better this season. Maybe a 10 win season and a wildcard.

3. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker must become more consistent at QB. The Titans have a good offensive line and I look for a bounce back season from RB Chris Johnson. The Titans defense isn’t very good ranking 27th last season. A chance at a .500 record in 2013.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: They will battle the Oakland Raiders as the worst team in the league. Blaine Gabbert is the starting quarterback and isn’t very good. They do have Maurice Jones-Drew but his production has started to decline the past couple of seasons. Cecil Shorts is a good WR but they will struggle to score. The defense is awful ranking 30th last season.

AFC West:

1. Denver Broncos: They were this close last season to going to the Superbowl. Peyton Manning should have a solid season and he has one of the best wide receiver groups in the league with Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Von Miller will miss the first six games due to suspension. This team should still easily win the AFC West.

2. Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith is the new starting QB and they have one of the most explosive RB’s with Jamaal Charles. The defense needs to improve on run defense but they have a solid secondary and the team should be vastly improved. I’ll say at least 8-8 with a chance at 10 wins and a wildcard.

3. San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers is a good QB. Antonio Gates is a good TE. The running game is average at best. The defense is good against the run but shaky against the pass. I’ll pencil them in for 6 wins.

4. Oakland Raiders: It’s a bad team. Career  backup QB Matt Flynn will lead the team that has a no name list of wide receivers and an often injured running back Darren McFadden leading the offense. The defense is average at best and will just be on the field with a team that will struggle scoring points.

AFC Championship Game: Cincinnati and Houston … AFC Champions: Houston Texans.

I’ll have my NFC Predictions next week.

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