The King is back to deliver a public message to his subjects of the AFC. At the beginning of starting at Thoughts From The Bench, I did the NFL Power Rankings. I would say that I was more than correct on multiple occasions when it came to ranking certain teams and predicting who would beat who. The NFL is currently in a frenzy with free agency and we still have the 2019 Draft to get through at the end of April. Early predictions of things are always nice so I thought it would be a fun idea to split up the AFC and the NFC and rank each one separately. First, I thought we would start with the AFC.
#16 Miami Dolphins
Welcome to the crapshoot team of the AFC everyone. The Dolphins are in total rebuild mode and will look to try to tank in this season and maybe even in 2020. They have Kenyan Drake still at running back and Kenny Stills and Devante Parker in the pass game, but now they will be looking for a new quarterback in the offseason or in the draft with Ryan Tannehill being traded to the Tennessee Titans. Chances are that the quarterback won’t be up to the challenge until he has better pieces around him in the offense. Losing Frank Gore to the Bills also puts a damper on the run game. There is just nothing fairly impressive with the way Miami is going with things and as pop punk group New Found Glory states; It’s all downhill from here.
#15 Cincinnati Bengals
Whether they know it or not the Bengals are in rebuild mode. New coach means new opportunities. Everything that Marvin Lewis had with the Bengals will surely be erased, cut or traded to start over. This means that new coach Zach Taylor will be willing to sign away or cut players in order to maybe bring change to a struggling organization. The only piece I see him keeping would be Joe Mixon. Dalton, Green and Ross should be moved which will bring a very poor showing from Cincinnati this year.
#14 Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars don’t have much except a new quarterback in Nick Foles. Rumor has it that they will be shopping running back Leonard Fournette and the other offensive players they have are not the best. They lost multiple a key offensive receiver in Donte Moncrief and I just don’t see them making much of an impact until they get Foles some offensive weapons. The defense has to step up here or this team will plummet down the drain faster than they did with Bortles as quarterback.
#13 Tennessee Titans
I put them low every year and yet somehow they surprise me every time. I refuse to break tradition though as I am putting the Titans at number 13 out of 16. I just don’t see Mariota being the franchise quarterback anymore. He had an incredible sophomore season and that is about it. He is constantly getting hurt and throws more interceptions than your average quarterback. Even with the addition of Ryan Tannehill to push him more to keep the starting job doesn’t bold well for Marcus. The addition of Adam Humphries is the only reason why the Titans are this high on the list as he was a decent number two receiver with Tampa Bay and could provide some easy passes for Mariota or Tannehill to make. Who knows maybe they’ll prove me wrong again.
#12 Oakland Raiders
Just because you sign a bunch of big names doesn’t mean you’ll be put anywhere near the top. The Oakland Raiders have been making massive moves this offseason with additions such as Antonio Brown, Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner and Tyrell Williams. This doesn’t mean they will know what to do with the talent they pick up. It will be interesting to see especially with Derek Carr still being their quarterback for the time being. Whatever the case may be, I can predict the Raiders as of right now will have a 7-9 record at the end of the NFL 2019 season.
#11 Denver Broncos
Denver comes in at 11 and some of you might be sceptical as to why they aren’t lower on the list. Joe Flacco is not the reason so calm down for all you Flacco fans out there (chances are that there aren’t that many of them anyway). The reason is that you still have receivers like Sanders and Sutton as well as Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman running the ball. You also have Von Miller and Bradley Chubb still on the defense who can pressure the quarterbacks very well. Do I think this team will be special this year in any way? The answer is no. I think they will be a boring team to watch, but they will still get the job done in an effective manner.
#10 Buffalo Bills
I see a resurgence in the Bills this year. I’m telling you guys they will be a different team now that quarterback Josh Allen has weapons to throw to. Before he only had his running back McCoy, Foster, Jones and Clay when he was healthy. Now you add the possibility of adding another wideout in the draft like Metcalf or a strong offensive lineman along with free agent pickups John Brown and Cole Beasley. You now have a completely different team for the 2019 season. It is going to be interesting to see Allen toss it up for Brown to go get the ball with his speed or have Beasley make some spectacular catches like he has before. Like I said, I believe the Bills will be an improved squad from last year’s turd.
#9 Baltimore Ravens
This is a weird situation with the Baltimore Ravens. On one hand, they are lacking an enormous veteran sense of defensive style. They lost Suggs, Weddle and Mosley. However, they also gained one of the best safeties in the game right now with Earl Thomas. They have also lost receivers John Brown and Michael Crabtree and also running back Alex Collins. They now have Mark Ingram in the run game to help out quarterback Lamar Jackson. I think teams will understand Jackson’s scheme and expose him and without a decent defense to help him, the Ravens will crumble and fall.
#8 New York Jets
The Jets reach a weird possibility of maybe having a Browns type record. Sam Darnold has a decent amount of weapons to work with. By signing Le’Veon Bell as their running back, Darnold now has an effective rushing attack and an easy passing option to go with if he wants to pass out of the backfield. It is certainly a better option for him then his other running backs in the past. Then we add Jamison Crowder as virtually the Jets number one receiver with an improved defense consisting of C.J. Mosley from the Baltimore Ravens. Like I said it will be weird, but I will say it will be harder for Bell to run. However, I believe they could go a decent 7-9 or 8-8 run.
#7 New England Patriots
Alright you Patriot fans can suck a fat one if you think that they will be the same team or better in 2019. They have lost one too many talented players and will basically have to start over in some positions. They let Trent Brown and Trey Flowers go as well as Chris Hogan, Philip Dorset and Cordarrelle Patterson go as their wideouts. It will be interesting to see how Brady even performs in 2019 as he enters his age 42 season. Plus we don’t even know if Rob Gronkowski is playing this upcoming season. You still have Julian Edelman as virtually your number one receiver and all of the running backs for Brady to pass out of the backfield to. Somehow Belichick will completely outsmart me and pull it off again, but I’d love to see New England burn to the ground in the NFL in the 2019 season.
#6 Houston Texans
The Texans haven’t changed much since they lost against the Colts last season. So I thought it would be fair to put them near the middle of the ranking. The only thing I can think of in free agency when it comes to the Texans is that they cut one of their best cornerbacks in Kevin Johnson. We are rolling with the fact they will most likely pick up an offensive lineman to help out Watson so he doesn’t get sacked 60 times this season. The offense will still not be pulling any punches with Watson throwing to Hopkins and Fuller plus Lamar Miller running the ball. The defense will still have Watt and Clowney, but their secondary is very weak and can be easily exposed as we saw with Andrew Luck and the Colts.
#5 Pittsburgh Steelers
This offseason is one Steelers fan wish they could forget. This year we lost two of our biggest playmakers on our time in running back Le’Veon Bell and star wide receiver Antonio Brown. It is true that Bell didn’t play for us this year and chose to sit out and go into free agency rather than playing for the Steelers. For Brown, it became about ego and money. When he became too much to handle we decided to trade him to Oakland. Now we are stuck with Ben being the last main piece to the Killer B’s. Now it isn’t all bad as we picked up former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson and also signed Donte Moncrief to a two year deal. Do I think Pittsburgh has what it will takes and will bounce back? Sure I do. It will be tough though as our division has never been more competitive than it is now. Here we go Steelers here we go!!
#4 Cleveland Browns
Well this is awkward… We can now lay to rest the idea that playing the Cleveland Browns twice a year was a joke and an easy two wins. Cleveland has come out of the DAWG pound and is ready to pounce on and bite the hell out of any opponent that gets in its way. They have done incredible things for themselves this offseason. They signed Kareem Hunt who will miss eight games because of his actions, but he will still be a star when he eventually gets to play. They traded for Odell Beckham Jr and succeeded. They signed Sheldon Richardson to their defense. All of these moves proved to me that the Browns easily got an A in the free agency market. I’m curious to see what the draft holds for them, but Baker Mayfield and the Browns should be prepared for anything and everything and moving on to getting their first division win in a very long time.
#3 Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are another unique team to consider being very good here. I thought they were very good last year and the crazy thing is that they didn’t have spend that much of their salary cap yet. With the right people, the Colts can do great things. I absolutely love the Devin Funchess signing. I just wish it was a little less. I mean 13 million dollars for a year contract is pretty crazy. At least there will be someone to take the heat off of T.Y. Hilton in the passing game. They also have Jay Ajayi looking to be a running back as well behind Marlon Mack. Andrew Luck has come a long way since his shoulder treatments and now it looks like he is finally ready to be considered fully healthy again. Let’s hope that works for the Colts again this year as Luck looks to go on another run to the big leagues.
#2 Los Angeles Chargers
I was saying all last year how the Chargers were the team to fear. The only one that didn’t take my advice; New England. Even with that painful loss I imagine the Chargers will be coming back better and stronger than ever. It will be interesting to see how they do without wide receiver Tyrell Williams and Justin Veratt on the defensive side, but I hope they will do well. Philip Rivers doesn’t have too many years left to try to win a Super Bowl, and honestly it wouldn’t be surprising if they drafted his replacement this year in the 2019 Draft. For the time being however, they still have Gordon, Allen and Mike Williams for the offense, and they still have Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Derwin James. This team will find its fire in the 2019 season.
#1 Kansas City Chiefs
some of you might agree with is and some of you think I am riding the coattail of the Chiefs last season. Well you are damn right I am. Mahomes proved that he was the best quarterback in the 2018 season by throwing 50 touchdowns and only 12 picks. Next season the offense should be even better. The defense on the other hand might come into question after letting Dee Ford, Eric Berry and Justin Houston go from their team. They did sign the Honey Badger though as their safety so it isn’t the worst. They need to draft successfully on the defense side in the draft though as the defense cost them many big opportunities this past season. That being said they will be good this year and possibly make another a Super Bowl run.