Welcome to The Truda Report everybody. With there being only two days left until the first game of the NFL season, I want to preview both the AFC and NFC early playoff contenders (as well as those without viable playoff hopes), and then give my Super Bowl prediction. Today I'll be doing the AFC, so I'll go through what makes each team in the conference hard to beat this year, as well as their weaknesses. At the end of this article I'll give you my AFC Championship prediction, and Thursday when I do my Superbowl pick it will be revealed who I see coming out of the AFC. Remember to share this article and my others, because every time you expose these articles to others it helps TTR grow.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills are a challenging team to judge heading into this season because of their quarterback situation and their running game. Obviously the defense took a major hit when Buffalo traded away Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles, and let their other incredible corner, Stephon Gilmore, go to the Patriots in free agency. The offense also took a hit with the swapping of Sammy Watkins and Jordan Matthews in their number one receiver spot. However though, Tyrod Taylor has only surprised us in his time in Buffalo, and LeSean McCoy remains one of the leagues elite running backs. Will these two keep the team at .500 this season despite one of the leagues toughest schedules? Only time will tell.
My Prediction: 5-11
Miami Dolphins: Quick disclaimer: I am a die hard Miami Dolphins fan. Does that change my ability to look at their roster and schedule and make a rational prediction? No. But I refuse to disrespect them the way ESPN does. All I've seen this off season is that Miami is going to be a 6 win team this season, but answer me this: how is it that with an improved roster, more experienced coach, and a second year for everyone in this system we will play like trash. Adam Gase was second in Coach of the Year voting last season after overhauling everything mid last year and transitioning from a pass happy system to a run first team. Jay Ajayi has looked even better than last season so far in training camp and pre season. And, now to the most dreaded part of this article, me, a Jay Cutler hater, has to admit that he fits our system perfectly and has shown the arm talent to carry our team in shootouts. Obviously the decision making is still a question for Cutler, but I have some confidence in Miami this year. I'm not saying we will make the playoffs, because we have the fourth hardest schedule in the league, but I know we are better than six wins (if not I blame everything on Cutler).
My Prediction: 8-8
New England Patriots: HOT TAKE: Tom Brady is not the greatest quarterback to ever live, and he will begin his physical decline this season (I've been saying it for years: wait till he's 40 and it'll all go downhill). This changes nothing for the Patriots though. Gronk is healthy again, and I don't care that Edelman got hurt. Hogan, Cooks, Amendola, White, and Lewis can all share what were to be his receptions. The point is, in case you missed it, the Pats are deep. New England's defense improved this offseason too. They stole Stephon Gilmore from division rival Buffalo Bills, and they also traded for Kony Ealy. I've never seen a roster as stacked as theirs, and as long as Mr. Bill Belicheat is coaching (including if Brady gets hurt), they will be everyones favorites to win it all.
My Prediction: 15-1
New York Jets: Webster's Dictionary defines this franchise as a joke, because that's exactly what they are this season. They purged every veteran from their roster in free acency, traded Sheldon Richardson to the Seahawks, and have four third string caliber quarterbacks trying to start. I will admit, Jamaal Adams was a great draft pick and I think he'll be great, but one player isn't enough to save a roster full of 50 other bums. I feel bad for Todd Bowles because not only does he need to try and work with this terrible roster, he has to face the tenth hardest schedule in the league. Vegas gave this team 1000-1 odds to win it all this year, and I think that says enough.
My Prediction: 3-13
Houston Texans: Let me start this out by saying not only is J.J. Watt one of the best defensive players to ever live, he will always be remembered for what he has done for the people of Houston these last couple of weeks. He is going to be this years Walter Payton Man of the Year without question. Now, let me move towards the football side of things for Houston. their defense is going to be a pain in the tokus for every offensive coordinator in football. They were debatably the best in the NFL last year, and that was without the man I previously mentioned. With Watt back on the field, the sky is the limit. Actually, wait. I was wrong. The offense is the limit. This year hinges on quarterback play, because Nuke Hopkins is only effective when someone can get him the ball, and that would help his offensive co star Lamar Miller. I think this team is a sleeper to make a run in the playoffs this year. Keep an eye on them.
My Prediction: 10-6
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts aren't going anywhere this year. I like Andrew Luck but he gets no time in the pocket, and, oh yeah, he's entering the season injured. Their defense hasn't gotten too much better, and as each year goes by Frank Gore is going to be a little less effective for them. I won't ever count them out of a game if Luck and T.Y. Hilton have a chance to make plays together, but I just don't see them doing much this season. Sorry Indy.
My Prediction: 6-10
Jacksonville Jaguars: When your head coach has to tell the media that the starting quarterback job is a toss up between Blake Bortles and Chad Henne... CHAD HENNE?! That can't be right. It is. 'Tis true my fellow football fans. This is how low Jacksonville has reached. For a week there was a chance Chad Henne was going to be the Jaguars starting quarterback. This teams defense looks great on paper so hopefully that keeps them afloat in a couple games this year, but to win games you need to score points. If Bortles can't play up to snuff teams will stack the box, contain Leonard Fournette, and make Jacksonville win through the air... which I highly doubt they are capable of.
My Prediction: 4-12
Tennessee Titans: Just a couple of years ago this team had the number two pick in the draft, and were the laughingstock of the NFL. Oh, how times have changed. This team has been incredibly hyped up this off season, and many expect them to make the playoffs as a wildcard. I think due to their weak schedule it's definitely a possibility, but I'm not buying into them as much as others are. Their wide receivers are questionable despite the acquisition of Eric Decker, and their defense is also under some scrutiny. I think that Mariota has a real chance to shine this year, and he can prove himself to be a qb of the future.
My Prediction: 10-6
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are in an interesting spot this year. I don't see them making the playoffs, but they have a solid enough roster to go .500. They acquired Jeremy Maclin this off season, and him paired with Mike Wallace can be an interesting threat to secondaries this year. Their running game is atrocious though, and that could slow them down offensively. Also, entering the season with your franchise QB injured isn't a good sign. The Baltimore defense continues to look stout, so I think that will give them a couple wins this year.
My Prediction: 7-9
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals should be a solid team again this year, but I don't think they are good enough to make the playoffs. They should be another team that hovers around .500, and I honestly think after this season Marvin Lewis is gonna have to go. He has been the coach there for years, and they can't seem to find the playoffs (and when they do they loose immediately). I think that they have a very potent offense and a solid defense, but I just can't find anything on there roster that doesn't make me think average. Cincinnati, please go find a new coach, because you're boring to talk about, and have been for years.
My Prediction: 8-8
Cleveland Browns: I'll make this brief. Their offense has only one good player because they didn't resign Terrelle Pryor, which they should've. Isaiah Crowell, that one good player, can't carry them the way elite running backs can. This teams defense looked like the first bright spot for the Browns in years... and then they released two time Pro Bowl corner (it's hard to get good cornerbacks by the way) Joe Haden. So now even though their front seven looks okay, every single team that plays them can throw the ball all over their defense. The front office gets zero stars.
My Prediction: 2-14
Pittsburgh Steelers: This team is widely considered to be the Patriots biggest threat in the AFC this season. The Killer B's (Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Leveon Bell) are going to compete to be the best offense in the league, and with Martavis Bryant back from suspension there chances of being the best are dramatically increased. Opposing defenses are going to crying themselves to sleep on Sunday nights. Speaking of defense, that was Pittsburgh's one issue heading into the season... and then Cleveland basically gifted them Joe Haden. Now, the Steelers look to be one of the best in the AFC by a wide margin.
My Prediction: 11-5
Denver Broncos: The Broncos are a team that reminds me of the boring Bengals, but not for the same reasons. Denver isn't very exciting since their defense makes every game low scoring, and this year their offense looks just as encouraging as ever. They did just bring Brock Osweiler back though, so it'll be interesting to see how he affects the quarterback battle there. On the defensive side of things, Wade Phillips, their former defensive coordinator, is gone and the teams new head coach, Vance Joseph, will shake things up in terms of scheme. We'll see how they play now that the defense has undergone some changes.
My Prediction: 8-8
Kansas City Chiefs: This team is incredibly talented, and they have the tools to fight for the top spot in the AFC. The defense is incredible, and that's what you need to be a top team in the NFL. The offense also looks like it'll be solid this year, despite Spencer Ware going down with injury. His backup, rookie running back Kareem Hunt has been spectacular in pre season and he is expected to shine in the starting role. In terms of receivers, they have less depth due to Jeremy Maclin's exit, but Tyreek Hill is being put in position to take on the number one receiver role. He was incredible on special teams last year, and it'll be time to see if his hands can help keep Alex Smith happy with his outside weapons. If Tyreek doesn't preform well though, Smith can always fall back on Travis Kelce, who is once again expected to be a top 5 tight end this season. This team is loaded, and I can't wait to see what they do.
My Prediction: 12-4
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders, just like the Chiefs, are expected to shine this year. Derek Carr is coming off of an incredible season, and his weapons have only gotten better. Amari Cooper continues to develop, Michael Crabtree is still good, and now throw Marshawn 'Beast Mode' Lynch into the equation. This team is going to be unstoppable in the red zone. The issue for them this year is going to be the defense though, because Khalil Mack can't carry the whole unit on his shoulders. I can't wait to see how this team turns out. I can definitely see them making hay in the playoffs.
My Prediction: 10-6
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers, as usual, already have injuries in their receiving core. Their first round draft pick, Mike Williams, will be out for a solid chunk of time, which definitely isn't a great way to start off his career. On the bright side, though, Keenan Allen is finally healthy again, and Phillip Rivers has two great tight ends as offensive weapons (Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry). In terms of the running game, Melvin Gordon should be solid if he can stay healthy. This offense should be more then average. On the defensive side of the ball, though, the Chargers could have some issues. They were able to franchise tag Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa is going to be a beast, but the rest of the group is questionable. I think the defense is going to cost them a couple of close games this season.
My Prediction: 7-9
AFC Playoff Prediction:
AFC Championship Prediction:
New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.