The AFC Landscape

The Patriots have made their changes this offseason with a great draft on the defensive side of the ball, and a few additions to the roster such as a down field threat in Brandon Lloyd. There is no question that the Patriots got better this offseason, and are the favorites to get back to the Super Bowl, but here is one team from the AFC East, North, South, and West that could cause a few hiccups.

I almost picked the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East because I believe they have a better quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and they won the Mario Williams sweepstakes, but I think the Jets are better off. Darrelle Revis will be in camp from the beginning this time around. He was going to sit out because he wanted to restructure his 4-year, $46 million contract he signed back in 2010 but it's probably a good idea to show up to camp because the Jets would fine him $30,000 a day, and a $1 million reporting bonus would be forfeited according to CBS.

Much of the offseason talk of the Jets was centered around Tim Tebow. But bringing in a quarterback that can't throw, to throw in the redzone, doesn't make too much sense. The Jets have the better defense, but the Patriots have made huge strides on improving the d-line, linebackers, and the secondary. The Jets can MAYBE snab a game from the Patriots even though that is unlikely. The Patriots have the offensive firepower and a decent enough defense to win the AFC East comfortably.

Ben Roethlisberger likes to improvise and do his own thing sometimes. Todd Haley, the new offensive coordinator does not. Because these two will bump heads a few times this season, and the fact that their O-line has a big question mark on it, AND the absence of Rashard Mendenhall, the Baltimore Ravens are the better team in the AFC North.

Joe Flacco has come into his own the past few seasons. Last year he took a step back in stats, but he did lead his team to the Super Bowl, well except for, uhm, oh yeah Sterling Moore, and uhm Billy Cundiff...yeah. As training camp nears, Joe Flacco has not recieved a long term contract extension, and he has said publicly that it is not an issue.

Ray Rice, who signed a 5 year, $40 million contract last week, was one of the best backs last year, rushing 291 times for 1364 yards and 12 touchdowns. Remember, this guy is only 25 years of age, probably not in his prime just yet! He could put up some scary numbers this year.

Ed Reed last year had only 3 intercerceptions, the lowest of his career, so he needs to step up and show his worth on this old Ravens defense. The absence of Terrell Suggs will put a hole in this great defense, but the Ravens are still a very good football team, setting up a memorable AFC championship, should they meet again.

The only team that might cause a problem for the Texans in the AFC South is the Tennessee Titans. If Matt Hasselbeck stays healthy and has a year like last year, the Titans can be good. Chris Johnson needs to cut the crap, and learn how to play running back again, and the Titans will win some football games.

When Matt Schaub was injured, he was having a pretty good season. Through 10 games, he had thrown for over 2,400 yards with 15 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. Arian Foster was finally coming into that fantastic form he had from the season prior. The Texans were poised to make a playoff run, but the masterful(sarcasm) T.J. Yates couldn't get it done.

The Texans did lose Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills, but they still have a solid defense. With Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson all healthy, the Texans have one of the best offenses in the league. And if all of them are healthy come playoff time, look for this team to make a run.

How could Peyton Manning not be in this conversation? Sources and teammates have been saying the old Manning is back, and how good his arm is. The thing is, we just don't know until he puts pads on and is in a game. This guy has had multiple neck surgeries, and missed an entire season because the nerves in his neck didn't regenerate properly.

But, chances are, Peyton is back. And he is with a team in Denve, that made it to the second round with TIM TEBOW! That makes the Broncos automatic Super Bowl champions, right?! A team making it that far with a quarterback who can't complete over 50% of his passes. Now throw Peyton Manning into that team and get rid of Tebow, and you have got a pretty scary team right there.

Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are two players that Peyton will be throwing to very often. And the passing game isn't the only dimension to the this offense. Willis Mcgahee was the backup to Ray Rice in Baltimore, went to Denver, and had a very productive season. Rushing for almost 1,200 yards and 4 touchdowns. Accompanying this offense, is a solid defense with veterans like Champ Bailey, and young stars like Von Miller. If Peyton stays healthy, this team has the potential to do some damage.