The 2012 NFL Season kicks off this week and it’s the perfect time to put myself out there with some AFC Predictions for the division winners and wildcard teams. I had the chance to fully study every team during preseason, analyze how the rookies will fit in, and dissect all the important off season moves.
I’ll tackle the AFC predictions this time out and hit on the NFC when we meet again. Dare I say, you can take these predictions to the bank!
Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens made the playoffs the last 4 seasons, and won their division last year. They also have as good a Head Coach / GM combo as there is in the NFL.
Joe Flacco is just a good enough quarterback to win with, as tailback Ray Rice can do the rest. The offense should be very good in 2012 but this being Baltimore it’s still all about the defense. Even with Terrell Suggs out indefinitely, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed will ensure the Ravens defense is as stout as ever.
Houston Texans - The Texans finally broke through last year to make the playoffs and win the division. Even with a 3 game losing streak to end the ’11 season, they still managed to win 10 games. They have arguably the best run game in football behind backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate but with their well oiled zone blocking scheme they should be able to run the ball with anybody. The Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson connection is solid, they both just need to remain healthy. Defensively they stack up in the top of the league.
New England Patriots - The Patriots will still reign in the East. Yawn… Although it won’t be as easy as in years past. Their offensive line has some questions and the defense has some holes in it. As long as they have Tom Brady quarterbacking and Bill Belichick at the helm though, they’ll be a legit Super Bowl contender.
Denver Broncos - If a Tim Tebow quarterbacked Bronco team can win the West, then surely one led by Peyton Manning will win as well. Last year the Denver D catapulted them into the playoffs (well that and a little Tebow magic) so I expect their defense to be as good if not better in 2012. The offense will be leaps and bounds better with the animated Manning under center too. Some pundits are concerned that Manning will get hurt, but no QB has a better feel for the pocket than Payton.
Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers will lean on their defense and QB Ben Roethlisberger will gunsling them to victory when needed. They’ll contend in the AFC North, but I see them coming up just short when it counts. If they can get their running game stabilized they’ll be a tough team to beat come playoff time.
Buffalo Bills - The Bills spent a ton on their defense this off season, and it’s exactly what the team needs to get them over the playoff hump. The running game is strong, the passing game is solid, and with Mario Williams now terrorizing QBs in a Bills uniform, it will be playoff time in Buffalo.
What do you think of our predictions? Head down to the comments and let us know.