For those of you RWU readers that do not follow football that often, this is your one stop place to get all the information on the NFL on a week to week basis.
This past week was the first full week for all 32 teams in the NFL. Which means there is just over four weeks until the fist game of the season, the Dallas Cowboys at the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Week by week, leading up to the first game of the NFL season I will be going through my prediction of every round of the NFL playoffs; starting with the teams that will be playing into January from the AFC.
American Football Conference:
- AFC Champion Houston Texans (12-4): The Texans are coming off their best season in franchise history, keeping in mind they were without two key components in their offense (quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson.) The Texans are playing in the easiest division in the AFC, the AFC South, which should make it a bit easier to take the Number 1 seed after the end of the regular season. Houston might have the best trifecta of superstars in the league, with Arian Foster the best running back in the NFL, top flight wideout in Johnson and an underrated QB in Matt Schaub. Not to mention they have a pretty good defense too, led by linebacker Brian Cushing.
- AFC North Champion Baltimore Ravens (11-5): Baltimore has one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. The big hump for the Ravens will be playing a good portion of the season without defensive leader Terrell Suggs. That and the fact they’re playing in one of the best divisions in football will be their two biggest obstacles they will have to overcome this season. Besides that they have a great rushing game and a way to score on offense led by Ray Rice.
- AFC East Champion New England Patriots (11-5): Most people would have the Patriots as the Number 1 seed, but not me. I see the Buffalo Bills giving New England all they can handle (but I’ll get into that later.) The biggest problem I see in the Patriots game is the lack of a running game. They are one of few teams that doesn’t have a true number one running back, which could become a bit of a problem later on in the season. I’m sorry but Tom Brady won’t win you every game this season and that was clear in the Super Bowl and Week 3 against Buffalo.
- AFC West Champion Denver Broncos (10-6): The Broncos landed possibly the biggest free agent in the history of free agency in acquiring quarterback Peyton Manning. After scrapping the Tim Tebow project for a safer option with Mannng, the future looks bright. The Denver defense didn’t get enough credit for the wins Denver achieved with Tebow at the helm. With poor production by the offense with Tebow leading them, the defense had to a lot of pressure to keep the game close. Just imagine how great this team can be with a real quarterback leading the Denver offense.
- Buffalo Bills (10-6): This is the season that the Buffalo Bills break their playoff absentee streak. With the addition of Mario Williams to their already stellar (when healthy) defensive line, it’ll make the rest of the Buffalo defense leaps and bounds better. The key for the Bills is health, which is something Buffalo has lacked in recent memory. If everyone is healthy expect a similar start to last season, except Buffalo will finish that 5-2 start without a big losing streak to end the season. This will be a team to watch in the playoffs come January.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7): Pittsburgh’s biggest problem is the difficulty of their schedule. Don’t get me wrong this team is good, but so is the rest of the division. This will be the first time in 14 years that the Steelers will be starting the season without star receiver Hines Ward, who recently retired, a presence that will be missed in the Steeler locker room. The Steelers also have a looming contract situation with number one wide out Mike Wallace, which needs to be solved. If Wallace holds out this season, the Steelers will be in big trouble.