Post by Deleted on May 14, 2016 1:22:51 GMT
The New England Patriots. It pains me to talk about this team first, but any rational person has to pick the Pats as superbowl favorites in 2016. After reaching the AFC championship game, they suffered defeat against one of the historically best defenses. It's hard to impress in the draft without a first round pick (the pats rightfully missed out on theirs for cheating, cheating should NEVER go unpunished), but even the mid round picks seemed very plain. Getting O-Line help was a must as I don't think Tom Brady would willingly play against a Von Miller / Demarcus Ware combo ever again. What the Pats lacked in the draft, they made up for in Free Agency in strong signings of TE Martellus Bennett, DE Chris Long, and OT LaAdrian Waddle (jk this one was dogshit). Losing a player of Chandler Jones ability is always tough, but I feel like the Pats more than made up for it with their new acquisitions. In a year where much of the AFC is still on the come up, it seemingly is once again the Pats to lose. Definitely not a shoe-in, but put you're money here if you're a pussy and like to play it safe.
The 'Still Missing a Piece'
The Cincinatti Bengals. Throughout his career, Andy Dalton has been doubted as a guy who can win in the playoffs and take a team to the next level. I can think of no crueler punishment than to have a breakout season, only to fracture your hand a couple weeks before the playoffs and have to watch from the sidelines as AJ McCaron checks his way down to a 5 yard per attempt performance AND watch the divisional rival quarterback pull his best Kirk Gibson impression in a late 4th quarter drive to win the game. In Cincinatti. Sorry Andy. The Bengals responded to heartbreak with a quiet but solid draft - snagging CB William Jackson and WR Tyler Boyd in the first two rounds. Minimizing on the field time for Adam king of the late hit Pacman Jones is always a plus, and I think the speed and size of Boyd works well with the offensive scheme the Bengals run. Bengals had a bit of a rough off-season - losing WRs Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones and deciding to keep Pacman Jones. If healthy, this offense can compete with any team in the AFC. The backfield combo coupled with a young and quick passing attack is fun as hell to watch.
The Pittsburgh Steelers. The big question moving forward with this Steelers team is health. They absolutely cannot and will not win without QB Ben Roethlisberger. Losing Ben and Lleveon Bell for various points of the season wore down the Steelers and exposed a lot of problems on the other side of the ball as well. I think I was higher on the Steelers draft than most, as I loved the CB/CB picks in rounds 1 and 2 as the secondary needed immediate and drastic help. Even if it's just providing depth, this will help immensely moving forward. Later round picks to beef up the trenches were also solid. Free Agency wasn't all that great, as they lost a long time leader in TE Heath Miller. Replacing him in the locker room (and on the field) will not be easy at all. Although, Ladarius Green is a nice replacement for Miller. Similar to the Bengals, the Steelers have a very exciting offense and moving forward these two teams should keep the AFC North really interesting. I'd go as far as to say that they have 2 skill positional players in their respective top 5 (Antonio Brown #1 WR and Lleveon Bell #4 RB) with a top 10 QB. I would love to see a rematch between the Steelers and Bengals - so long as both teams are healthy.
The Denver Broncos. You might be asking yourself how the 2015 superbowl champions aren't considered contenders. I'll answer that query in 13 words: Lose your first string and second string quarterbacks and sign Marky Mark Sanchez. Peyton Manning had an absolutely dreadful season last year and Brock the rock Osweiller didn't look any better in his time on the field. But Mark Sanchez is a whole 'nother animal. He is Rex Grossman tier 'how the fuck did we end up with him' kinda player. Broncos fans better pray that Paxton Lynch is the answer (regardless, I really like his value at 26 even if he doesn't end up beating out Sanchez for the job this year). I wasn't overly impressed with the rest of the draft, but I also wasn't upset. Now Free Agency is a different story. Let me run through the long list of GOOD players that won't be wearing blue and orange this season: QB Peyton Manning, QB Brock Osweiller, DT Malik Jackson, G Evan Mathis, LB Danny Trevathan, DT Antonio Smith, and RB Ronnie Hillman. On the brightside, they were able to bring in Mark Sanchez (lol can't even say that sarcastically). Gutted. Slashed. Monumentally boned. Just a few ways to describe the talent lost on both sides of the ball. There is absolutely no way the defense matches last years production, and there is no way Mark Sanchez isn't an utter poopstick.
The Kansas City Chiefs. It takes a certain type of talent to be as underwhelming yet technically proficient as this Kansas City team. Led by Alex Smith, a man with the ceiling of a bouncy house (yet seemingly always being double bounced by the fat kids as he stays at that ceiling) the Chiefs surprised a lot of people by utterly demolishing the Texans in the wildcard round of the playoffs. They followed that up by playing the Pats very tight. When it comes down to it, this team won't ever be one that steamrolls through the competition, but they have the ability to play anybody tight. Sometimes, that is just enough to make a playoff run. I LOVE what the Chiefs did to still end up with DT Chris Jones at 37. That might have been value of the draft imo. Their next picks I'd categorize as good not great. The Chiefs didn't have any glaring big holes, so it's kind of hard to judge. Free Agency was tough. Losing G Jeff Allen, CB Sean Smith, S Husain Abdullah, and itty bitty little bounce around Mizzou hero QB Chase Daniel. Picking up T Mitchell Schwartz was nice as beefing up the line with a good runblocker only makes the Chiefs more dynamic (but how do you make them less dynamic? good question tsk!). The Chiefs have enough fire power to make the Broncos sweat, and even beat them out handily for the crown.
The Oakland Raiders. This team balls out. Derek Carr has cemented himself in nearly everybodies top 10, and Amari Cooper is trying to do the same. The AFC West is easily shaping up to being one of the most interesting divisions in football. I did not like what they did in the draft. The S Karl Joseph pick was a solid value, but the second round DE Jihad Ward pick was not good, especially since they followed it up with DE Shilique Calhoun in the third. Free Agency had its ups and downs for the Raiders. On one hand they picked up an elite corner in Sean Smith and a solid guard in Kelechi Osemele. On the other, they lose Justin Tuck and Charles Woodson to retirement. The Raiders are still an incredibly young team that has a lot of development left. If Carr and Cooper continue the rapport they established last season, I think the Raiders have what it takes to snap their 16 year playoff dryspell.
The Indianapolis Colts. I can't be the only one who thinks this year is make or break for Luck, right? He's shown a lot of promise in his first 4 years, but has not played even remotely close to the potential most people believe he has. The AFC South isn't as weak as it's been in years past, so the Colts really need to put themselves in the drivers seat and play consistently good football. I thought the Colts had a strong draft - using two of their first three picks to address massive offensive line problems, and the other to snag a safety to help in the secondary. Free Agency was super disappointing. The Colts had some money, they just ... didn't do anything. Re-signing Dwayne Allen was a bold move, especially considering his recent lack of performance. In the end, this team will live and die by Andrew Luck. I still believe he is capable of being one of the leagues top passers, but he's running out of time to prove it.
The Jacksonville Jaguars. Having both the Raiders and Jags in this category is tripping me the fuck out. But the Jags are a realllllly good darkhorse team this season. I'm not sure anybody can explain Blake Bortles emergence as a great quarterback, but frankly I don't care. Watching him drop bombs to Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson has got me All en (hah! wordplay) on this team. The Jags honestly had back to back top 5 drafts in 2015 and now 2016. Jalen Ramsey is going to be an absolute stud, and Myles Jack is a great value at 36 (hoping his knee is ok). The Jags also had a really really good off-season. They picked up DE Malik Johnson, RB Chris Ivory, CB Prince Amukamara, and S Tashaun Gipson without losing any "good" players. Raise your hands if you think the Jags have what it takes to win the AFC South? That's what I thought.
The Buffalo Bills. I am so ready for Rex and Rob Ryan to form a super Ryan and take this team to the superbowl! Or a Long John Silvers. Either one will be fun to watch. It's been a long 17 years since Buffalo has graced the playoffs with their presence, and they are in for a bit of a long road trying to stop that streak this year. It is possible though, Sammy Watkins began to develop into an elite pass catcher, bringing Tyrod Taylor along for the journey. The biggest thing holding back the Bills is there defense. They had a really impressive draft, snagging DE Shaq Lawson in the first round and LB Reggie Ragland in the second round. I also for some reason love the potential Cardale Jones adds. Might be a complete dud, might explode into greatness like he did at The Ohio State (sorry for saying the, needed to add a lil douchery). Free Agency is where the Bills struggled. They lacked the capspace to make a big move, and as a result ended up parting ways with DE Mario Williams, CB Leodis McKelvin, and LB Nigel Bradham. But hey, they kept up that team morale with a re-signing of G Richie Incognito. The Pats are obviously untouchable, but I see no reason why the Bills should be thinking that second place in the division is anything but there's for the taking.
The New York Jets. Everyone give a hand to IK Enemkpali (not in the way he likes to give hands) for helping the Jets realize that Geno Smith is dumpster juice and giving Harvard lad Ryan Fitzpatrik a chance to shine. Now everybody give a hand (in the way IK Enemkpali likes to give hands) to the Jets management for not pursuing Fitzpatrik like he is the man for the job. Overall, I was not a fan of the Jets draft. They followed up a solid first round pick of LB Darron Lee with duds in QB Christian Hackenberg and LB Jordan Jenkins. Unfortunately Free Agency wasn't much better. They were able to add RB Matt Forte (should be really interesting to see him out of the Bears system) and T Steve McLendon, but they also lost LB Demario Davis, T Damon Harrison, and RB Chris Ivory. Ranking the Jets in the Fringe category is solely based on assuming they'll pull their heads out of their asses and get Fitzpatrik locked down. IF not, they should be demoted to the trashiest of the trash.