2018 AFC Record Predictions

PERSONALLY, I think the AFC is the weaker conference in the NFL this season. Now does that mean that an AFC team won’t win the Super Bowl this year? Absolutely not. In fact, during the 21st century, the AFC has won 11 of a possible 18 Super Bowl titles. Of course, the fact that New England has five of them inflates the number a tad and once again the Pats are in contention to win it all. With the exception of New England’s division, the other three brackets are pretty open, with a bunch of teams expected to be in wildcard contention this season. With every game likely to matter in the playoff race, no one in the conference can afford to take a week off this season. Here are my predictions for every AFC team’s win/loss record.

Read the NFC Record Predictions here!

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AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (2017 – 13-3, lost AFC Divisional round)
THE obvious talking point in Pittsburgh right now is the contractual situation with (sorry Antonio Brown) their best player. No matter which side you are on in the LeVeon Bell saga one thing we can come to an agreement on is that the Steelers are a MUCH better team when he is in cleats. We could see a somewhat changing of the guard in Pittsburgh with Big Ben Roethlisberger’s inevitable departure nearing with every snap. Ryan Shazier’s absence from the middle of the defense should cause some headaches with Bud Dupree hoping to fill his big shoes as well. I don’t think this Pittsburgh team is good enough to go all the way, but the should beat up the rest of their division en route to a home playoff game.
Predicted Record: 11-5

Cincinnati Bengals (2017 – 7-9, missed playoffs)
SOMETHING’S brewing in Cincinnati. I’m not the only one getting on the Bengals bandwagon with a few people buying into the sleeper talk. Marvin Lewis somewhat controversially kept his job, returning for a 16th season with his quarterback Andy Dalton back for year eight. For things to go right this season both of them will need to help this team put a winning score on the board. A healthy Tyler Eifert and an improved John Ross should help their receiving game and Joe Mixon looks ready for a big sophomore campaign. With their defensive core intact don’t rule out the Bengals making some noise this season and snaring a wildcard spot.
Predicted Record: 9-7

Baltimore Ravens (2017 – 9-7, missed playoffs)
THE biggest factor in determining the Ravens’ win/loss total is the QB. With rookie Lamar Jackson fast gaining ground on Joe Flacco anything could happen in Baltimore this year. There are a few questions marks with this team and given their tough schedule I have my doubts over their playoff aspirations. Still, they might own the best defense and if they can be dominant it might be enough to keep Baltimore in the conversation for an AFC wildcard. My guess is that after a frustrating start to the season Jackson will earn the starting role in the latter half of the season as they finish right on the .500 mark.
Predicted Record: 8-8

2018 AFC Record Predictions 1Image from cardchronicle.com

Cleveland Browns (2017 – 0-16, missed playoffs)
LET’S be realistic, Cleveland isn’t going to make the Super Bowl. Once again, people are falling into the ‘Hard Knocks’ trap and thinking this team is one of destiny. If the HBO documentary did teach us anything it’s that Cleveland isn’t going to be a laughing stock any more. They have the personnel to be a competent NFL team this season with depth at quarterback and plenty of weapons to snag passes, while Myles Garrett might be a dark horse for Defensive Player of the Year honours. They are still a mile away from contending but a serious turnaround from their 0-16 finish is in store.
Predicted Record: 5-11

AFC South

Tennessee Titans (2017 – 9-7, lost AFC Divisional Round)
TENNESSEE doesn’t seem to be getting as much love as a potential returning playoff team. They do play in one of the weirdest division, where you could make the case for all four teams to be a division champ.  New head coach in Mike Vrabel has quickly worked his way up the ranks, with the former Patriots player eager to end his former team’s reign over the AFC. To do so he recruited previous Pats Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis to boost the rest of their nucleus. Marcus Marriota will have to step up his play if the Titans are going to surge, but with Derrick Henry, the clear No. 1 back and adequate receivers Tennessee should win a bunch of games again.
Predicted Record: 10-6

Houston Texans (2017 – 4-12, missed playoffs)
THE more I look at this Texans team the more I want to pick them to take out the South. Deshaun Watson (sneaky MVP pick anyone?) on the field boosts Houston’s win projections considerably and the explosive playmaker could help lead the Texans back to the postseason. His return from an ACL tear means there might be an adjustment period for the team, but it’s hard to see them posting a losing record. The biggest question mark for this squad is the health of their stars, with Watson and defenders J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus all returning from long layoffs. If they can find the right gear and keep their top dogs healthy, this team could well and truly feature in the postseason.
Predicted Record: 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars (2017 – 9-7, lost AFC Championship)
SEASON 2018 will really put the ‘defense wins championships’ mantra to the test. Because let’s be honest, the defense is going to have to wins games for Jacksonville to contend. A season ago, we saw them do just that, ranking second in the league for sacks per game and takeaway’s, making life hell for other quarterbacks. Their own QB Blake Bortles is out to prove the haters wrong with a lot of people labelling him as nothing more than a ‘game manager’. A lot of turnover in pass catchers at Jacksonville has me doubting their ability to put a winning score on the board, even if running back Leonard Fournette goes off. Until Bortles changes my perception of him I’m predicting the Jags to miss out on the playoffs in 2018.
Predicted Record: 9-7

Indianapolis Colts (2017 – 4-12, missed playoffs)
I sound like I am repeating myself but another uncertain quarterback scenario is what the Colts’ season hinges on. If all reports are true then Andrew Luck is ready to go after battling injury problems on and off for the past three years. If his shoulder is right then this offense can help them to overachieve. It’s a big ask for Luck and new head coach Frank Reich to turn Indianapolis around in just one year though. Given their gaping holes on defense and their lack of depth on offense (here’s Dez Bryant’s number, call him), the Colts will cause a few headaches for opponents, but not enough to be a decent team.
Predicted Record: 6-10

AFC East

New England Patriots (2017 – 13-3, lost Super Bowl)
SHOCKER, the New England Patriots are set to rule the AFC East once again. Each year is different and this season their lack of pass catchers has caused people to doubt Terrific Tom. Time and time again though we have learnt what happens when you count out Tom Brady and if he’s upright they should win 10+ games. Even if he has to rest a game or two and backup Brian Hoyer takes the reigns, the rest of their division is unlikely to cause any significant problems. Defensively they are much better than a season ago and Gronk looks ready to play a full season for the first time since 2011. My guess is they prioritise his health in the playoffs over regular season wins, but New England will still take out their 10th straight division title.
Predicted Record: 11-5

GTY 494235422 S SPO FBN USA MAImage from ftw.usatoday.com

New York Jets (2017 – 5-11, missed playoffs)
YEARS from now we might look back at the 2018 draft class and wonder what the hell the Browns and Giants were thinking. Sam Darnold looks every bit like a future franchise quarterback and after the Jets snared the USC alum with the 3rd overall pick they are throwing him into the fire right away. Darnold will be the youngest QB to start Week 1 since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Their draft picks are starting to come to fruition and New York’s season won’t be defined by wins and losses, rather if there are signs of growth. Todd Bowles is starting to feel his seat warm up, so the head coach needs the Jets to show some signs of life. My guess is they’ll finish runners-up in the East.
Predicted Record: 6-10

Miami Dolphins (2017 – 6-10, missed playoffs)
DOES anyone know a Miami Dolphins fan? I’m being serious, I don’t have any mates who are Dolphins fans and I can understand why. No offense to the Fins, who might prove me wrong if Ryan Tannehill stays healthy, but I have no idea what they are doing. They feel like a team teetering on the edge of a rebuild and this might be the year that they finally sink. I don’t think a Brock Osweiler redemption tour can fix them if their starting quarterback goes down either. That being said, this is the AFC East so Miami won’t fall to the bottom of the division with a few easy wins coming their way in another disappointing year.
Predicted Record: 5-11

Buffalo Bills (2017 – 9-7, missed playoffs)
THINGS could start ugly for the Bills. I mean Nathan Peterman isn’t exactly going to strike fear into the heart of opposing defenses and his pass catching weapons aren’t great either. With a suspension hanging over running back LeSean McCoy’s head as well, don’t be surprised if it takes Buffalo a while to record multiple victories. Some significant change to the defense means a tough year is likely for Bills fans, just one season after snapping their playoff drought. Rookie Josh Allen should (and likely will) start sooner rather than later, but I don’t think he has enough help to be their saviour this season.
Predicted Record: 3-13

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (2017 – 10-6, lost AFC Wild Card Round)
AFTER continuously falling short in the postseason Kansas City has shaken things up a bit ahead of their 2018 campaign. After five seasons under center, Alex Smith was moved on to allow gunslinger Patrick Mahomes a chance to shine. With just one career start to his name it might be unfair to expect a lot from Mahomes in his first full season, but all signs indicate otherwise. He has lit up the offseason with some huge bombs and explosive playmakers like Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt could see the Chiefs score a ton of points. Defense could be the Chiefs’ Achilles heel with the loss of Marcus Peters and Derrick Johnson in the offseason and uncertainty surrounding the health of star Eric Berry. However, despite the obvious weaknesses, I’m going all in on this team predicting Pat Mahomes to take the Chiefs to the next level and a No. 1 seed.
Predicted Record: 13-3

Los Angeles Chargers (2017 – 9-7, missed playoffs)
A popular sleeper pick around the league, the Los Angeles Chargers are keen to return to postseason action. Year two in LA should see them post a winning record again with skilled players across the roster. Their defense is home to some of the best stars in the league, however, injuries are holding them back from reaching their true potential. Quarterback Philip Rivers will get a ton of help from Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon and ageless wonder Antonio Gates to accommodate for their defensive shortcomings. They can’t afford to have another slow start or make mistakes on special teams like a season, but after winning nine of their final 12 games they should carry that momentum into this season and into the playoffs.
Predicted Record: 9-7

Oakland Raiders (2017 – 9-7, missed playoffs)
WHERE do I begin? After trading away Khalil Mack just a week before the season opener, we aren’t really sure where to peg the Raiders this year. The huge hole on defense might be instantly filled by Arden Key, with the rookie expected to do good things in his first pro season. Derek Carr, now clearly the franchise player, will need to be at an All-Pro level for the Raiders to be relevant as Marshawn Lynch tries to get the last few drops out of his gas tank. Offensive inconsistencies and a lot of roster turnover means Oakland will likely finish the year with double-digit L’s. What will be more interesting to watch is to see if Jon Gruden hangs around long enough to make the move to Las Vegas.
Predicted Record: 6-10

Denver Broncos (2017 – 5-11, missed playoffs)
AFTER some colossal QB failure’s Denver is poised for a year of stability. Finally, they might have a decent play caller with Case Keenum joining the team in the offseason after a successful year at Minnesota. Keenum won’t likely be at a fringe MVP level again and there will be obvious growing pains that come with a new quarterback. The defense will need to go nuts for the Broncos to go on a run and dynamic duo Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will be eager to pile up big sack totals. A few other pieces make their defensive unit one to watch, but offensive limitations will hold this team back in 2018.
Predicted Record: 5-11

Playoff Teams

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3)
  2. New England Patriots (11-5)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  4. Tennessee Titans (10-6)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
  6. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

THIS year I think the AFC will see an awesome race for the final few spots, with the South and West in particular divisions to keep an eye on. I have faith in the Bengals and Chargers as wildcard teams and to be honest they could even surge to division titles. In hindsight expecting 13 wins is probably too much for the Chiefs, but should the seedings unfold this way I think the top-2 will clash in the AFC Championship game. From there I think the Patriots succumb to Kansas City who will then fall to Minnesota in Super Bowl LIII.

Peace ✌

Banner from sportsgrid.com

4 thoughts on “2018 AFC Record Predictions

  1. hmmmmmm, I’d switch the Bungles with Cleveburg. Cinci is in the basement this year……. love your work Fry. It’s less than 60 minutes til kickoff…..feels like the superbowl

    Like

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