On to the AFC this morning, before wrapping up predictions week with awards, playoff teams, and the Super Bowl champ.
1). Denver - The Broncos have a strong squad back, even if there is no Von Miller until October. The Wes Welker and Ryan Clady additions will help the offense, and the D needs to stay healthy to help Payton & company out.
2). Kansas City - I really like what KC has done since last year. The Andy Reid hire was a great start, as was getting Sean Smith from Miami. He will now team up with Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry to form one of the leagues best secondaries. Alex Smith was brought in to play QB, and resigning Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Albert were key moves as well. Throw in the big #1 overall pick in Eric Fisher coupled with a healthy Jamaal Charles and you have an AFC West contender.
3). San Diego - The Chargers shored up their OL with Max Starks and DJ Fluker which should help out Philip Rivers this year. Keenan Allen is a potential steal as a 3rd rounder and the D needs new acquisitions Manti T'eo and Dwight Freeney to be productive.
4). Oakland - Candidate #1 in the JeDeveon Clowney sweepstakes is the Raiders. Matt Flynn is now the QB and a new OC may help Darren McFadden finally get going. The D is rebuilt, but still shaky, even with the return of Charles Woodson
1). Houston - The Texans return an outstanding defense and still have weapons in Arian Foster and Andre Johnson on offense. I liked the pick of DeAndre Hopkins to give QB Matt Schaub another playmaking target.
2). Indianapolis - Indy rebuilt their OL to help protect franchise QB Andrew Luck a little better this year. He will also need the trio of Vic Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Donald Brown to give the Colts some sort of running game. The defense is still a question mark and is now without longtime leader Dwight Freeney. They'll need Bjoern Werner to be good right away to help with the pass rush.
3). Tennessee - If Jake Locker stays healthy, this could be a decent offensive team with the 2 back attack of Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. Drafting Chance Warmack will help a revamped OL as well.
4). Jacksonville - Candidate #2 for Clowney, the Jags are still a mess. They're younger and more talented, especially on D, but big time QB issues will keep them from getting past the 3-4 win mark.
1). Cincinnati - It's time for the current version of the Bengals to put it all together. They are led by their D, which was kept intact and added more pass rush with James Harrison ans monster DL Margus Hunt. Dre Kirkpatrick is back and healthy with Terrance Newman around for depth. If Andy Dalton progresses this season, this could be a 12-13 win team.
2). Baltimore - The offseason personnel losses for the SB champs are well chronicled. However, this will still be a good offensive team and studs like Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata return and Lardarius Webb returns from injury.
3). Pittsburgh - Although several veterans are gone from last years team, this is still an old team attempting to get younger and better. This transition will likely lead to a 7-8 win season as Pittsburgh won't be as good on either side of the ball as last season.
4). Cleveland - Another candidate for Clowney, the Browns still do not have any real offensive threats. Paul Kruger will help improve the defense, but the new Cleveland regime is counting on Brandon Weeden to really improve from his rookie campaign.
1). Miami - Like Cincy, I think the Dolphins had an excellent offseason and are my pick to win the NFC East. I'm a fan of Ryan Tanneyhill and he's got 2 solid weapons at WR now in Hartline and Mike Wallace. New additions to the OL will help as well and the Dolphins D should be solid again. Dion Jordan and Brent Grimes will be counted on to contribute immediately to help interrupt the Pats current run of division titles.
2). New England - We will get a true sense of Tom Brady's greatness this year as he's been stripped of his main weapons. Danny Amendola was a good pick up, but Belichick's D will need to get the Pats some W's this year.
3). Buffalo - Doug Marrone inherits a talented but inconsistent group in Buffalo. New QB Kevin Kolb will try to feed CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson as much as possible and hope the D can be better than last year.
4). NY Jets - The countdown to the Geno Smith era is on as this will once again be a subpar offensive team with Mark Sanchez running things. Defense will be good, not great as the Jets will hope their big DL can keep teams out of the end zone.