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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Aug. 27, 2010

AFC Predictions: division by division breakdown

By Senior Airman Patrick McKenna 316th Wing Public Affairs

This is the first of a two-part series. Next week will be the NFC preview.

AFC West Division Champs - San Diego Chargers:

The Chargers walked away with this division last season finishing five games ahead of the second place Broncos. The Chargers as currently manned are not as talented as they were last season. Star wide receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive lineman Marcus McNeill are holding out with no end in sight. The Chargers also lost cornerback Antonio Cromartie and future hall of famer LaDainian Tomlinson to the Jets. They'll lean heavily on rookie running back Ryan Mathews and wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee to keep the offense on track.

Oakland should slightly improve if they are able to get healthy seasons out of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden.

The Broncos aren't nearly as good on paper as they were last year thanks to the departure of Brandon Marshall and the injury to Elvis Dumervil. They'll need to squeeze out every ounce of talent from guys like Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal if this offense has any hope of being decent.

Kansas City is on the right track in their rebuilding process having brought in Charlie Weis to shore up the offense and Romeo Crennel to fix the defense. They have some nice young talent in Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry, but are at least a year from challenging for a wild card berth.

Prediction: San Diego 10-6
Oakland 7-9
Denver 6-10
Kansas City 3-13

AFC East Division Champs - New England Patriots:

Sorry Jets fans. Despite the enormous hype the Jets are receiving (or giving themselves) the Patriots have been and will continue to be the top dog in this division. The Patriots offense should be more balanced than recent years after drafting two tight ends. The key to whether or not the Patriots can make a deep run in the playoffs will be their defense which despite being young, has a lot of potential.

The Jets will certainly be improved with the additions of Cromartie and Tomlinson. The Jets defense could be lethal if they manage to sign Darrelle Revis and get him in before missing any regular reason games. If they don't, they'll still be solid but definitely vulnerable. On offense, the Jets will need big seasons out of Shonn Greene and Tomlinson to keep pressure off of second year signal caller Mark Sanchez.

The Dolphins should continue to be solid, especially after adding Marshall from Denver, but they can't count on Ronnie Brown to play a full season.

The Bills are beginning yet another rebuilding project and can only hope rookie running back C.J. Spiller provides a spark.

New England 12-4
New York 10-6
Miami 8-8
Buffalo 4-12

AFC North Division Champs - Baltimore Ravens:

The Bengals surprised a lot of people last season. Their successful season can be attributed to the resurgence of Cedric Benson as a solid running back and also their defense, which had a very good year. Can they do it again? Well, a lot will depend on Benson's ability stay healthy for 16 games and also how well Terrell Owens can mesh with his new team.

The Steelers have a very solid team, but it's doubtful they'll be able to keep pace while missing Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games. A lot of pressure will be on Rashard Mendenhall.

The Ravens should continue to improve as an offense which is music to the ears of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, who've had to carry the team for the last decade. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice along with Anquan Boldin are ready to make the Ravens a legitimate offensive threat. If the Ravens secondary can just be decent, this team will take the division.

As for the Browns, well, it says a lot that their most exciting player is their kick returner ...

Prediction: Baltimore 11-5
Cincinnati 9-7
Pittsburgh 8-8
Cleveland 3-13

AFC South Division Champs - Indianapolis Colts:

The Colts are as close to a lock for 12 wins as any team in football each and every season. They spent most of last season chasing history starting the season 14-0 before taking their foot off the gas pedal late in the year. The offense should be as steady as usual especially with the valuable experience guys like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie gained last season. Reggie Wayne had a brutal end to the season and he'll need to bounce back for this team to have a shot at another Super Bowl.

Houston has been on the cusp of a breakthrough for a few years now. Matt Schaub had an outstanding year and their defense was very surprising thanks to standout years from Brian Cushing and Mario Williams. Cushing is suspended the first four games and they have some question marks at running back, but this team has a great shot at a wild card spot.

The Titans stumbled out of the gate last season only to turn it around and go 8-2 in the last 10 games thanks to Vince Young and 2,000 yard rusher Chris Johnson. The Titans shouldn't stray far from that formula this season and while they don't have the talent of Houston or Indianapolis, they are also very capable of taking a wild card spot.

The Jaguars are not in a good place right now. Dwindling attendance numbers and serious question marks at many offensive positions leave this team in tough shape. Maurice Jones Drew is still a fantastic weapon, but opponents will key on him and he'll be in for a long season.

Indianapolis 11-5
Houston 10-6
Tennessee 9-7
Jacksonville 5-11