2007 AFC Preview: Will Pats Dethrone Colts?

Paul Kasabian

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots (AFC and Super Bowl Champ): I understand why WR Randy Moss has been dogging it the last couple of years. I would be too if my quarterbacks were Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo. With Future Hall-of-Famer QB Tom Brady throwing him the ball, Randy Moss will find his second wind and be named the Comeback Player of the Year.

2. *New York Jets: Although the Jets traded away OG Pete Kendall, they should be able to bounce back into the playoffs with a favorable schedule. The Jets don’t have to travel further west than Dallas. Also, the Jets get lucky in October, as they face the Giants “on the road.”

3. Buffalo Bills: After letting CB Nate Clements and LB London Fletcher-Baker leave as free agents, the Bills picked up free agent OG Derrick Dockery and drafted Cal RB Marshawn Lynch. With the continued improvement of WR Lee Evans and QB J.P. Losman, look for the Bills to become the Cincinnati Bengals of the AFC East.

4. Miami Dolphins: Bad off-season moves and an aging defense that is ready to collapse will spell doom for this once-proud franchise. Everyone and their mother knew Miami needed a quarterback, yet the Dolphins went out and picked up WR Ted Ginn Jr. instead. Who’s going to throw him the ball?

AFC CENTRAL

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steel Curtain seemed to get back in the swing of things late last season when they won six of their last eight games. Now that QB Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, he will lead Pittsburgh back to the top of the division as long as he doesn’t make the same errant passes that he has been prone to make as of late.

2. Baltimore Ravens: I don’t care that an injury prone, overrated RB Willis McGahee is on the Ravens now. LB Ray Lewis, OT Jonathan Ogden, and QB Steve McNair are all in their early to mid-thirties. If two of them have bad seasons due to old age, the Ravens’ ship will sink.

3. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Odell Thurman isn’t coming back. WR Chris Henry won’t be back until week 10. The offense is still amazing and fun to watch, but that defense wouldn’t be able to stop USC from scoring three touchdowns against them. Plus, karma won’t allow Cincy to advance far into the playoffs anyways, with a fifth of their players having been arrested and all.

4. Cleveland Browns: Are you kidding me Romeo Crennel? You’re not going to start Brady Quinn, against Pittsburgh on Sunday? Do you want to be shown the door? The ecstasy that Browns fans exuded on Draft Day 2007 will be replaced by sobs and screams when the Cowboys use their pick to take RB Darren McFadden first overall next April.

AFC SOUTH

1. Indianapolis Colts (AFC Finalist): NFL pundits are making the case that the Colts will have an off year after three defensive starters in last year’s Super Bowl, left the team. So what? DT Larry Triplett and LB David Thornton (who are higher quality players) left before last season, and the Colts went on to dominate defensively in the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl.

2. *Houston Texans: QB Matt Schaub is no Joe Montana, but he will shine in the Houston limelight and lead the Texans to their first playoff berth in franchise history. Coupled with the arrival of veteran RB Ahman Green and beastly rookie DT Amobi Okoye, the Texans will be the surprise team of the conference.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags will regret cutting S Donovan Darius, who was the heart and soul of the Jags’ defense. QB David Garrard, who admittedly looked nice in spots last season, will lead the Jags to a rollercoaster season with his up and down play. However RBs Mo Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor will keep the Jags competing throughout the entire season.

4. Tennessee Titans: Madden Curse Alert! QB Vince Young has sealed the fate of the Titans’ season by appearing on the cover of the video game Madden 2008. Don’t be surprised if Coach Jeff Fisher gets struck by lightning, or if RB LenDale White quits football and becomes a competitive eater. But in all seriousness, the Titans just aren’t very good.

AFC WEST

1. Denver Broncos: Genius ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski predicted that Cutler would be a better NFL quarterback than both Vince Young and Matt Leinart. I agree. Also, look for the running game to improve by leaps and bounds with the additions of RB’s Travis Henry and Selvin Young.

2. San Diego Chargers: Head Coach Norv Turner is 58-82-1 in his coaching career. What makes Charger management think he can lead this team to a Super Bowl? RB LaDainian Tomlinson won’t score over 30 touchdowns again, although he’ll be a beast as usual and keep the Chargers in it until the very end.

3. Oakland Raiders: Did you know that the Raiders had the best passing defense in the NFL last year and a top-five defense overall? That alone will prevent Oakland from finishing in the cellar once again. Since owner Al Davis has finally hired a competent head coach in Lane Kiffin, look for the Raiders to show a little skill on the offensive end (but not too much).

4. Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs’ once stellar offensive line looked putrid against the Colts in the playoffs last January. Now that future Hall of Fame OG Will Shields has retired, the whole Chief offensive foundation will come crumbling down. Head Coach Herm Edwards won’t help matters with his shoddy clock management skills.