The American Football Conference looks like it will run through the AFC West as the playoffs approach but that doesn’t mean other teams won’t look to shatter that image. Here are a few predictions for the second of the season.
AFC EAST – Think of how different this division would look had Miami held off New England last weekend? Still the Dolphins got a monster win over Cincinnati Thursday night to end a four-game skid. The Bills will continue to be competitive but they will occupy the basement at season’s end. The Jets will also win games they shouldn’t and lose games they shouldn’t to finish around .500.
The Patriots have a ridiculously good record in the second half of seasons under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and I expect that to keep rolling despite some injuries. Keep an eye on the Dolphins. A wild-card is not out of the question.
AFC NORTH – The Bengals had a prime opportunity to put a stranglehold on this division but they failed to pull out the comeback in Miami. After flirting with some success Cleveland has come back to Earth but will remain a tough contest for opponents because they play very good defense. There just isn’t any confidence in either Jason Campbell or Brandon Weeden at QB.
Ravens’ Head Coach John Harbaugh thinks his team is going to catch fire again in the second half. They’ll push for a wild-card but I don’t see a run like they had last year. The proud Steelers will continue to struggle behind a patchwork offensive line and a defense that is suddenly giving up lots of big plays. Look for the Bengals to get to the division with a push from Baltimore.
AFC SOUTH – Indianapolis is in prime position to close out the division midway through the second half of the season. Houston has to be the biggest disappointment in the NFL right now and Jacksonville will be just hoping for a victory to avoid the dreaded 0-16. Tennessee is interesting team because they always play completive games but don’t always find ways to win.
This Sunday will go a long ways towards settling things as Indy travels to Houston. The Texans are playing for their season while the Colts are looking to put them away. The one concern I have with the Colts is their run defense which ranks near the bottom. That could be an issue late in the season. Either way, the Colts will win the South behind Andrew Luck and will be the only playoff team from this division.
AFC WEST – This is easily the most intriguing division in the AFC and maybe in all of football. Right now you have the league’s only unbeaten team in Kansas City who sits at 8-0. On their heels is Denver who his 7-1 and then you have a very good San Diego team at 4-3 who will not go quietly into the night.
A lot will be settled over the next several weeks. Denver plays the Chargers next week then plays Kansas City twice over a three-week span. The first match-up has already been flexed by the NFL to the Sunday night game on November 17th.
The Chargers will get both the Broncos and the Chiefs twice in the second half of the season and will look to split home and home at the very least. If Philip Rivers can continue to take care of the football I think they remain a threat. Oakland will be a thorn but will finish last in the West. It’s very possible you could see Denver sweep the Chiefs but still lose the division because of a very tough schedule. Either way count on the Broncos and Chiefs in the playoffs and don’t count out the Bolts.