What The AFC Will Look Like in 2019
Let's start out in the AFC East, I expect the headlines will be that the Patriots are descending. I still expect them to win the division, but with a 10 or 11 win record. They won't get a first round bye, and they finally draft a young quarterback to learn under Tom Brady while they're still winning. I think they are going to acquire a ton of draft picks so players like Rob Gronkowski and Brady can teach their greatness to the next generation. I think the rivalry in the AFC East will be of the two second year quarterbacks Josh Allen and Sam Darnold. They have both shown flashes throughout their rookie years and I expect them to build off each others greatness. The Jets will have a new head coach, like Mike McCarthy, that will utilize Sam Darnold's natural playmaking ability and get him throwing on the run and will help create a stable run game. For the Bills I think we will be talking about a rookie running back that will replace LeSean McCoy. McCoy has had his struggles this year. I think they will also find a true number one receiver that will either be picked up through the draft or from free agency. Lastly, I expect the Dolphins to struggle unless they find a new quarterback. I don't think Tannehill is that bad, but I can't see him winning in the playoffs and it's time Adam Gase realizes that. Tannehill is constantly injured and hasn't emerged as the franchise quarterback Miami has hoped for. I think the Dolphins have a great group of young backs with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage to go along with veteran backs Frank Gore and Brandon Bolden. The Dolphins need to make evident changes to be a playoff team.
Now let's head up to the AFC North, I think Baker Mayfield is going to rule this division. The Browns had a great year to get back on track and welcome their re-designed franchise back into the NFL. I think their run game is going to be utilized a ton with Nick Chubb. This will open up their down field play action passing. The Browns also have a feisty young defense which will help them when they eventually make the playoffs. I think the Steelers are going to continue their passing attack, but get away from the run game a little bit like we've been seeing late in this season. James Conner and Jaylen Samuels will be a great two-headed monster, but I have a feeling Mike Tomlin will rely on JuJu and Antonio too much. This division will be fought in a three team race. The final team will be the Ravens. I think they are going to build around Lamar Jackson 100% and build on to the run game. I believe that teams will eventually figure out what the Ravens are doing with their run game, so what they need to get is a number one receiver that can scare defenses. This will stop defenses from flooding the box. If the Ravens acquire a receiver that's on the up and up, there run game will continue to strive while having a receiver that can stress defenses. Now for the Bengals, it's time to move on from Andy Dalton. He is a decent quarterback, but not one to build around. I genuinely feel as if he is holding the Bengals back. The Bengals need a new head coach that 's similar to Matt Nagy and is a young offensive mind. There is so much talent between Green, Boyd, Eifert, Mixon, and Ross. A coach that follows the recent trend can do a lot with that. If the Bengals get a new quarterback (through free agency or the draft), a young head coach, and stack up on linebackers; they can compete for a playoff spot.
Let's go to the AFC South, I think this will be the Colts division to lose. We have seen what Andrew Luck is capable of this year. If they can get hot at the start of the season, the Colts will be competing for a first round bye. They have a revamped O-line and a defense led by star rookie linebacker Darius Leonard. I think this offseason they will focus on getting arunning back like David Montgomery (from the draft) or Mark Ingram. The Colts don't like to spend a whole lot on new players through free agency, so I don't know if they will pursue Bell, but I trust what Frank Reich and Chris Ballard are doing. Next up in the division are the Houston Texans. I think they are a playoff bound team, for both 2018 and 2019, but I can't see them as legitimate super bowl contenders until they improve there offensive line. Deshaun Watson gets hit way too much and if you want him moving like he has been in his rookie and second year, you need to protect him. I think if the Texans get an offensive line, they will be considered a super bowl contender heading into next season. I think they should pursue a corner to tag along with Kevin Johnson because Jonathan Joseph isn't getting any younger. In Jacksonville, I think everyone knows that it's time for a new quarterback. I like Doug Marrone, but they need some more creativity on offense. I think they get a new offensive coordinator that can draw up more than just crossing routes on third down. They also need a big name receiver to make an impact similar to Amari Cooper did on the Cowboys. There defense is great and if they can retain all there key contributors for another year, they will make a playoff run. If the Titans can make Derrick Henry a 4 down back, they will be competitive in the AFC. Derrick Henry is the type of player that needs touches, similar to Adrian Peterson. He has so much potential and it would help the Titans in both the pass and the run game. I also want to see them get Corey Davis more involved. The Titans have a bunch on there defense, hopefully they will be able to sign both Kevin Byard and Adoree Jackson to big deals in these next coming seasons.
Next up is the AFC West. This is a three team division until we see the Raiders get a true number one receiver and a defense that can stop teams in there division. The Raiders have a ton of draft picks and cap space, so expect them to get a lot of quality players this offseason. I believe Derek Carr is their franchise quarterback, but he needs some help from the players around him. They need an every down back to go along with a receiver that can be targeted more than 10 times a game. The Raiders need defensive lineman as well, I can see them going after Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver in the draft. For the Broncos, I expect to see there young receivers to take a step in the right direction. They need to help out Case Keenum similar to the way that Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs did in Minnesota. They have an outstanding defense, but some new linebackers to go along with Todd Davis wouldn't hurt. They have a fantastic defensive line with Chubb, Miller, Gotsis, and Harris. I think the Broncos should continue to utilize the run game and hopefully they can use Royce Freeman on the outside more to create a true two headed monster with Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay is one of the biggest silver linings for Denver and he is a player to build around for years to come. I think it wouldn't hurt for the Broncos to draft a quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft this year. I'm not quite sure if Vance Joseph is the answer at head coach, but I wouldn't be surprised if John Elway brought him back for another year. I think next year the Broncos should focus on the development of their young players and shoot for a winning record. Now let's go to the two elite teams in this division, the Chiefs and the Chargers. Let's start with the Chargers. This is their year to win. Phillip Rivers is having a career year and they are getting healthy at the right time. Melvin Gordon was playing out of his mind before his injury, but now they have tremendous depth in the backfield. Mike Williams is stepping up and Keenan Allen continues to be Keenan Allen. With an elite defense, the Chargers aren't focused on 2019, they are focused on winning THIS YEAR!!! I think the Chargers will keep their foundation for next year and Joey Bosa will potentially put together a DPOY campaign in 2019. Now, the Chiefs, my favorite team to watch. This team is electric and like the Chargers, they haven't even thought about next year. Patrick Mahomes is having an MVP season and has been breaking record after record. I think the question is can Mahomes win a big time game, the only teams Mahomes has beat on primetime games this year were ones with losing records. I think there will also be questions at the running back position and obviously the defense. The Chiefs have a great front line, but struggle in the secondary and with their linebackers. The Chiefs are having a phenomenal year and I don't want to take anything away from that.