New England Patriots
Stop me if you heard this one before, the New England Patriots are the trendy pick for representing the AFC in the next SuperBowl. It seems like year in and year out, the majority of sports 'experts' are placing the Pats as the team to beat in the AFC. This is a nice fantasy to have but the reality is this, New England has not won a playoff game since their 2007 SuperBowl upset loss to the New York Giants. That's right, 2007. This offseason they went out and upgraded in both sides of the ball and they did it in typical Pats fashion, by adding talented players with troubled pasts. The skill is there but can they get back over the hump come playoff time? That's the question.
Predicted Record: 11-5
New York Jets
The Jets are a solid team that has been on the brink of that elusive SuperBowl for the past 2 seasons. Unfortunately for them, where other frontrunners like New England and Pittsburgh have upgraded over the offseason, NYJ has downgraded some on their weakest side of the ball, the offense. The Jets are relying heavily on the emergence of QB Mark Sanchez and the skill of the recently released from prison Plaxico Burress. They are also leaning heavily on the tired legs of LaDainian Tomlinson. Throw it all together and you can understand why the usually vocal Rex Ryan has been pretty quiet lately.
Predicted Record: 9-7
Miami is a team that could surprise a few people this year. They have an elite D and with the signing of Reggie Bush, they have a versatile enough backfield to keep opposing defenses guessing. Unfortunately, they couldn't complete the trade for Kyle Orton this offseason. If they would have gotten Orton from the Broncos, I could have seriously seen the Dolphins as a potential wild card team but with Chad Henne behind center, I just can't feel anything non-cringeworthy.
Predicted Record: 7-9
Buffalo is one of those bubble .500 teams that can't just get it together enough to make that next step. They have the nucleus of a solid defense with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams but their offense isn't much to write home about. They will need heavy production from CJ Spiller if they hope to finish with more than 5 wins.
Predicted Record: 6-10
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS