Austin Cunningham | Aug 30th, 2019
Bill Belichick is the head coach, Josh McDaniels is the offensive coordinator and Tom Brady is the Quarterback. Brady now has two receivers that are strong, fast and efficient after the catch standing over 6’3”, with Julian Edelman returning in the slot. The defense is going to be solid no matter who is out there because that is the Patriot way. Another promising season is ahead for the boys in Boston and the AFC runs through them yet again.
This is a promising team that is another year or two away from truly competing to own the AFC East. Sean McDermott has a defense that may be considered one of the best in the NFL by the end of the season. The offensive line was rebuilt this offseason with key additions of Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe and drafting Cody Ford in the second round. These guys will be key for second-year quarterback Josh Allen, who showed tremendous potential in his rookie year. He now also has more speed on the outside with Cole Beasley and John Brown. Buffalo is close to figuring out who they are as a team and will be the team in the AFC East that could disrupt who wins it overall.
There is a new look in New York, in more ways than one. This includes their jerseys, front office and a head coach that is looking to bounce back from his tenure in Miami. Sam Darnold appears to have improved from last season and continued to make plays this preseason. He has more help along the offensive line, more receiving weapons in Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell. The defense has a new swagger to it with Jamal Adams leading the way. This is the team in the AFC East that could compete with the Patriots if all goes according to plan! They have young talent, they have speed and they have a veteran presence that has experience with winning. The Jets are the team of New York.
The Dolphins may have their quarterback of the future with Josh Rosen if they can take care of him. Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the way because he is a veteran and an NFL journeyman. It seems as if people forget that Rosen was a rookie last year and had an offensive line built of third-stringers. He was put in a situation to fail last year, now he is with a new team and an organization that is practically building from the ground up. He has made plays this preseason and has found a trusted receiver with Preston Williams. Kenyan Drake has playmaking ability, but the Dolphins really need to figure out if he is the guy of the future. Mike Gesicki looks to be one of the next big names among tight ends in the NFL. Miami’s defense has developed talent in their secondary and is one or two solid players from becoming a real threat in the East. Give Brian Flores two more years and this defense will be feared in the NFL. This year is purely a development year for their future and to determine where they truly are moving forward.
After losing Andrew Luck so suddenly it can be hard to be an optimistic Colts fan, but you have a very very good general manager in Chris Ballard and an owner that knows how to stay out of the way and allow the team to be built. Luck will be missed by the NFL as a whole, but as everyone says, next man up. Jacoby Brissett is that man. One that has starting experience in the NFL. He has been practicing with the ones and it sounds like he has a great relationship with T.Y. Hilton, which is promising as well. They have a rebuilt offensive line and a stellar defense. Yes, losing Luck hurts, but it does not mean you are out of the race on winning this division.
The Jaguars have finally moved on from their tight end of a quarterback. Now the man behind center has won a Super Bowl and was the Super Bowl MVP. Plus, they arguably have the best defense in the NFL. A running back in Leonard Fournette that appears to have reset himself and is ready to attack the NFL again. The addition of Chris Conley seems to be quiet for the rest of the NFL, but Jaguar fans should be excited because the guy always finds a way to get open and never stops moving. The Jaguars also have tremendous speed on the outside with Dede Westbrook and DJ Chark. The Jaguars will be competing to win this division and maybe even for one of the top spots of the AFC.
This team has the potential to disrupt the entire NFL if all goes as planned. Losing Lamar Miller is tough, but Duke Johnson is the type of guy that can step in and fill that void. The Texans still have Deshaun Watson and the best wide receiver in the league, Deandre Hopkins. Along with speedster, Will Fuller. If Fuller is healthy then the Texans can score at ANY moment because Hopkins is not going to drop anything and Fuller will literally fly by anyone. Houston’s defense is still making noise because of J.J. Watt and their interior defensive line. With Jadeveon Clowney being on the opposite side, it is pretty much a pick your poison for opposing offenses, because you are not going to contain all of them. If their offensive line can hold up and give Watson time to throw, they will once again, win the AFC south.
The Titans are in a period of rebuilding their foundation. They have a solid defensive line, good secondary pieces, and a very productive linebacker group. Their defense is still being built the Mike Vrabel way, and so is the rest of the team. The offense has good young pieces with A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. The addition of Adam Humphries basically recreates the Wes Welker for the Patriots. That addition alone will be key for Marcus Mariota. Speaking of which, the titans need to figure out if he is their guy of the future or if they need to continue building their team for the next guy. Tennessee is a difference-making Quarterback away from making real noise in this division. This is a good team with a big hole. If they patch it, lookout.
The Bengals are an interesting team this year because they have several playmakers on offense that can lead the league and a young defense that is still in development. They have an experienced quarterback who needs one more weapon to get them over the hump. That one weapon is supposed to be John Ross, who if healthy can be very dangerous. Tyler Boyd is looking primed for a big year and Andy Dalton is definitely hearing the noise from the offseason. I am expecting him to have a big year and prove a lot of people wrong and earn some more time in Cincinnati with the new Coaching staff. If he does and carries the momentum and their playmakers stay healthy, keep your eyes on the Bengals.
What John Dorsey has done to this franchise in two years is remarkable. With a surprising number one pick in Baker Mayfield, to adding Javaris Laundry, firing the head coach mid-season and what he continued to do this past offseason too. This team is filled with playmakers on both sides of the ball. Odell Beckham, Jr., Kareem Hunt, Olivier Vernon are all guys that add talent to this team in more ways than one. They have a pass rush; they have smart linebackers and a secondary filled with tremendous talent. If attitudes and egos stay controlled this team is going to be terrifying throughout the year. If Baker continues to develop his pocket passing, this team will not be going away anytime soon and will be competing for the Division year in and year out.
Baltimore is going to be the team to beat in the AFC North. Their defense loses players but adds more right back. The addition of Earl Thomas was massive since they essentially took him from the Chiefs. Their offense is heading into a new era with Lamar Jackson, who has been focusing on his pocket passing. It appears their scheme is built on getting him out of the pocket early and reading half the field early. Adding Mark Ingram proves they are sticking to the run and when needed they trust Lamar’s arm to make something happen. Jackson is going to be the man to watch this next season due to his development and the Ravens being the team everybody appears to be overlooking.
The Steelers are no long the three B’s They are Big Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mr. Two first names James Conner. They have an outstanding offensive line and a defensive line that appear to have developed into a deadly one. Their secondary is the only hiccup but their offense will make up for any points given up. James Washington is going to be the next top wide receiver in the NFL and the Steelers are not going anywhere with Big Ben at the helm. The true number one deep ball passer in the NFL.
The Joe Flacco era is officially underway along with Vic Fangio. The Broncos are going to be well known for their fantastic pass rush of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. This offense is going to surprise some people because they have a quarterback that is going to stand there and sling the ball around effectively. With weapons like Emmanuel Sanders, a rising player in Courtland Sutton and a running back by committee in Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman the offense should be interesting to watch. If the Broncos figure out their play calling they will be in a position to disrupt the AFC West if not the entire league.
Philip Rivers career is starting to dwindle, but the Chargers are doing their best to surround him an array of weapons. He has a premier route running wideout with Keenan Allen, speed with Travis Benjamin and a kid that will disrupt the NFL headlines this next season, Mike Williams. The situation with Melvin Gordon will figure itself out but going with Austin Ekeler will be just fine going forward. The defense of the Chargers is stupid scary and if they can continue to stay healthy it will be very fun to watch. The ‘other team’ in Los Angeles is very close to being THE team in Los Angeles because the Chargers are going to be one of the teams that has everyone’s attention.
With one of the best Head Coaches in the NFL and the reigning NFL MVP on your team, there is plenty to be excited about. A new offensive scheme and plays will be displayed at the beginning of the season. They have added to their speed on offense through the draft with Mecole Hardman to officially earn the name ‘Legion of Zoom’. The defense has been rebuilt, a new scheme is in place and the pass rush has only improved. The Chiefs have a serious opportunity to make it back to the AFC Championship and the Superbowl with hopes of winning both. There has never been a better time than now to be a part of Chiefs Kingdom.
Jon Gruden is going into his second year of building the team he wants. Mike Mayock is giving Gruden the toys he needs to help his offense improve. They added a great talent in Antonio Brown, speed in Tyrell Williams, reliability with Hunter Renfrow and guys that will change their culture through the draft. The defense is in a rebuilding process but still has plenty of talent to make a difference in games. The Raiders are a team that has several people questioning what direction they will go. If it goes the way Gruden wants, then I’d say it’s going to be a good year before moving to Las Vegas. Knock on wood if you’re with me.
Do you have more to be optimistic about with your team? Hit me up on Twitter @Austincham33 and lets talk ball.
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