NFL: Predicting the Division Winners in the AFC

With the NFL offseason slowing down, and most major free agents off the board, we see how each team’s rosters size up in their respective divisions.  With only a few major signings left to take place, as well as the NFL Draft, we have a relative idea of what teams will look like come training camps.  In this article, I will be predicting each AFC division’s winner, as well as why I believe they have the edge over the other teams around them.  This will factor in things such as:

  • Strength of Schedule
  • On paper team strength
  • Potential draft moves to impact roster
  • Coaching staff capabilities

With all of that out of the way, here are my picks for the NFL’s AFC Divisional Champions.

North – Cleveland Browns

Starting off we have last year’s 6th seed and divisional round competitor, the Cleveland Browns.  Through the course of the offseason so far, they have not lost many valuable assets to the team, and the ones they have lost they have replaced quickly.  However, in terms of signings, they have had a few impactful ones to note.  The main one to take a look at is John Johnson III, who will most definitely solidify their secondary even further, and with Grant Delpit set to make his NFL debut, this safety core is extremely strong.  

Other signings they have made to note are CB Troy Hill, DT Malik Jackson, LB Anthony Walker, and DE Takkarist McKinley.  They also have a decent amount of draft picks this year, with a first, a second, two thirds, two fourths, and one fifth, sixth, and seventh.  Overall they are primed to make another push into the playoffs, and should definitely have a good chance to take home the division.

AFC East – Buffalo Bills

With the New England Patriots priming themselves for a strong run, and the Miami Dolphins having a solid offseason, this pick is very difficult to make.  However, I still believe Buffalo can take the division with their current roster as is.  They have not made many moves so far this offseason, but they did make one re-signing that stands out to me, in LB Matt Milano.  He has been a very nice addition to the Bills linebacker core so far, and will definitely continue to be so through this four-year contract.

Another signing that could supplement the respective position is WR Emmanuel Sanders, who had a productive year with the New Orleans Saints last year after taking over WR1 duties with Michael Thomas injured.  Overall, Buffalo should have a good chance at being repeat division winners in the AFC East.

South – Indianapolis Colts

Next, we have a relatively up in the air division between 2 teams, the Colts and the Tennessee Titans.  My choice here however for this season is the Colts, primarily because I believe they have the weapons to do so.  They have Jonathan Taylor coming into his sophomore season as well as Michael Pittman Jr., who both will likely amp their production up further.  However, they also brought in Carson Wentz in a relatively cheap trade.  This is probably the biggest focal point to focus on, as he will be reuniting with Frank Reich, who coached Wentz during his best years.

Provided that the Colts can have a solid draft class and get productive players with their first few picks, they should be in a position to take the division title in the south this season.  However, I still believe this will likely be a close division again like last season.

AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs

Finally, we have the reigning AFC champions and division winners, the KC Chiefs.  After back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and one victory, they will look to remain atop their division with most of their main weapons sticking around for another season.  After releasing both starting offensive tackles in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, they found two new interior lineman in Kyle Long and Joe Thuney.  Overall they have had a decent offseason, and have retained the large majority of players they have needed to.

It is worth noting that I believe the Chiefs will need to have a relatively good draft class this year to maintain their regular-season dominance.  However, they will likely be back in the deep playoffs again this year with all of their playmakers primarily being in house still.

Related Article: Cleveland Browns: Three Studs in Victory Over Pittsburgh Steelers

Who do you think will win each of the AFC divisions? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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Follow Jeremy on Twitter @ClutchWDN.

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