We are a quarter into the NFL season and things couldn't be more murky for the NFL playoff picture. With the NFC being more of a mess than the AFC. How far can Goff and company carry the Rams with no defense? How far can the Bears defense go with no offense? Matt Lafleur and the pass happy Packers can't score from two yards out, well maybe if the tried running it and not taking a page out of Pete Carroll's playbook they'd have a better result. It'd seem all is a mess in the NFC right now. The AFC has some surprises up its sleeve as well despite the certainty the Patriots are really good, and the Chiefs are still fun to watch. Gardner Minshew is taking social media by storm and the Browns struggle to be consistent every week. Here's who to watch for in the AFC and when the waters clear will be locked in for a playoff run and possible trip to Miami.
#1 New England Patriots:
This one is a bit obvious but it seems Tommy Terrific and Darth Belichick are up to their same old ways. With a super easy slate through the AFC East they can skate to a 6-0 record in that division with ease. They also play most their marque match-ups at home such as the (Chiefs, Cowboys, and Browns) only heading on the road to play teams like the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots could definitely finish the year 14-2 or even 15-1 if all goes well in those match-ups mentioned above, either or that'd be enough for the #1 Seed come January which they aren't too unfamiliar with there in the Boston area.
#2 Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs are another one that is a bit obvious but can't be under estimated in the least. They have blazed to an undefeated 4-0 record to start the season and could possibly as things look right now be the best chance of anyone of taking down the big bad Patriots in the AFC. The Chiefs are full of explosive weapons across the board and when they get Tyreek Hill back that will only add to that explosiveness and creativity of coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs face a bit of a tougher run than the previously covered Patriots with match-ups with the Packers, Bears, Chargers, Vikings, and Titans. Not to mention their match-up with the big bad Pats themselves. This might rattle them a bit and I would fully expect them to drop a few through that run but don't count on too many loses. I'd assume the Chiefs finish with a more than respectable record of 12-4 giving them enough to lock down the #2 Seed.
#3 Baltimore Ravens:
This one is the first "curve ball" of the bunch, many would know if you've read some of my previous articles I'm a big fan of Lamar Jackson and the Ravens this year. I really like their offense and the play of Jackson through the first few weeks. I truly believe he will finish in the MVP conversation despite a recent decline in Ravens hype following two loses to the Chiefs and Browns. The AFC North comes down to two teams this season the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, the Browns have secured the first win in a two game series to start the season however the Ravens will have a stronger finish to win the division. The offense is hitting on all cylinders while the defense lacks a lot of the authority it had a year ago. Understandably so with all the talent that departed over the off-season the defense is going to have growing pains. The Ravens wont have an easy road either heading on the road to face the Rams, Seahawks, and Browns so this will prove to be a real test for those Baltimore Birds. I feel when it's all said and done the Ravens will stand above the rest in the AFC North finishing around 10-6 and securing the #3 Seed in the Playoffs.
#4 Jacksonville Jaguars:
With the injury and loss of big money quarterback Nick Foles after week one, gave way to a new era. Minshew Mania and boy has it been fun, since his first start in Week 2 rookie Gardner Minshew has thrown for 900+ passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and only one interception! Taking the sports world by storm, and its not ending any time soon. Running back Leonard Fournette is starting to get on a real roll and has been very productive and consistent thus far through the first few games. The defense is still very tough especially up front, given Minshew keeps it up through the rest of the season. I can see the Jaguars rolling with him the hot hand even if Foles can return later on, giving even more motivation to pull off the big upset win of the AFC South and the #4 Seed in the Playoffs. Don't expect the world from the Jags but they may be the biggest sleeper of the season. Don't be the least bit surprised either if they finish 9-7 and even possibly 10-6. This team is a lot better than many will give them credit right now. Gardner Minshew could very well be the jolt this team needed. As well as cooperation from star corner Jalen Ramsey which will prove to hurt them late season and even in a playoff run if not resolved by then.
Wild Card Teams:
#5 Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)
- In the AFC West with the Chiefs
- Need to overcome injuries on defense
- Gordon returning is huge
#6 Houston Texans (9-7)
- Better protection up front on offense
- Run game needs to get going
- Defense keeps them in games but offense is fully capable
In the Hunt:
Buffalo Bills (8-8)
Cleveland Browns (8-8)
Tennessee Titans (7-9)