Well, the cuts are made, and the opening day rosters are in. It looks to be a very interesting NFL season for our two little divisions. From Baker Mayfield being crowed a “King” to Ryan Fitzpatrick completing the AFCE sweep, the offseason has been arduous, so let’s take a look at how things will shake out and rank all 8 teams, from worst to Patriots.
Without further ado…
There has been a pretty strong battle for last place between the Bengals and Dolphins, but with a late roster dump, the Dolphins have secured the worst position in this ranking, and likely the #1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. The Fins have 2 wins on their schedule in the first few weeks of their season (Pats and Chargers), but that is likely it…Unless of course Josh Chosen can put the team on his back and start climbing towards his ceiling. Unfortunately, this is going to be difficult since the Fins have doubled down on their philosophy that offensive lines are stupid. Going so far as to risk a locker room mutiny in order to ship the best offensive lineman they’ve had since Don Shula was the head coach off 7 days before the season starts for a couple of picks in the 20’s…In addition, they sent away one of their only true deep threats, because he doesn’t like Donny J. Savvy moves Greir, you’d better hope Tua doesn’t stink as bad as every other Alabama QB to come out in recent memory. (News flash, he’s gonna.) Final record 2-14.
So, if you couldn’t have guessed, this leaves the Bengals at second to last. Don’t get me wrong, the Bengals are terrible, they missed out on the bottom spot only due to Miami’s spectacularly foolish maneuvers over the past two decades…Let’s look at the facts. They took a tackle with their first pick in the draft. He’s on IR. They have a Red Headed QB. They hired Sean McVay’s ball boy to be their HC. Until Demaryius Thomas is healthy and back in the NFL, AJ Green is the second softest player in the league (Demaryius Thomas being the only bigger mound the NFL). And lastly, they are the Bengals; so even if they didn’t have all of the previous items stacked up against them, they’d still find a way too fuck it up. While listening to a fantasy football show in the radio, the host summed up the Bengals perfectly when talking about Joe Mixon. “I know he looks good and could be a good value in the 3rdor 4thround, but he’s a Bengal, it’s in his DNA to screw up.” And that just about sums up your 2019 Bengals. They will be terrible, but they’ll likely beat the Steelers late in the season, giving them the #3 pick in two stud 2020 draft. (And they’ll likely draft another lineman to prolong their ‘rebuild’.) Final record 4-12.
Now, third to last place is where things get tricky and some feeling are going to start getting hurt. The choice here is obviously between two AFC East teams, but they are so similar that it’s tough to choose. I’m going to go with the New Jersey Jets here. The Jets shook things up around their 2ndyear, red headed, USC QB by adding yet another AFC East retread head coach in Adam Gase (then promptly gave him some roster control, since he did such a great job with it in Miami) and locker room tumor Le’Veon Bell. This is so Jets it’s not even funny. Gase, we all know is not a very good HC, but he did get to work for Peyton Manning for a year or two to spectacular results, so you can expect him to do great things right? I think Sam Skywalker should give our dear friend Ryan Tannehill a call and ask him how those things work out. News flash, they work out poorly. The Jets once again did a very jets thing and drafted yet another defensive tackle in the early 1stround. He will be very good. But they will still lose a lot. The rest of the defense is suspect, the linebackers were supposed to be better with the addition of some guys in the draft. But the guy they took in the 3rdwas such a turd that he got cut before he ever took an NFL snap. Good pick. And let’s not even talk about the secondary…’desperate’ has been a term thrown around by the national media. I prefer the more direct (and accurate) term: shitty. We’re counting down the days until the Jets start their next rebuild. Final record 6-10.
That means our fourth to last team is the Buffalo Bills. At this time last year, Bills fans were lamenting their team’s decision to draft Josh Allen in the first. Oh, what a difference a year makes…For Allen got in there last year and showed that he has the ability to occasionally hit an open receiver with a pass and run over the occasional linebacker. He might just be able to keep Bills fans excited enough to pick up his 5thyear option, thus putting off Buffalo’s next QB search for another four years. I mean he doesn’t win a lot, but he plays hard. So that’s something. The Bills’ defense however should be pretty darn good. They took the fast DT with short arms in the 1stround. He should be pretty good right out of the gate, add that to the already stout front seven and solid secondary and the defense should keep the offense in a few more games this year. The Bills will be better this year and if things break right for them, they could challenge for a wild card spot. If not, then definitely next year…Final Record 8-8.
Once again, we hit a tricky spot in the rankings…There are three teams in the AFC North that could be placed in this position. But after some careful consideration, I’m going with the Ravens here. I just don’t think that you can win consistently in the NFL running the old Wing-T offense that my own HS team moved away from in 1995 because it was getting to archaic. Throw in a high school sized running back playing QB, and that offense is going to have some difficulties. Jamal Lewis ain’t walking through that door. And your defense, while decent, isn’t even top 5 in the current NFL, let alone the top 2 of all time the last time you guys needed to rely solely on D to win. Ozzie is gone and the draft board shows it. The Ravens took a diminutive WR that is related to Frozen Feet Brown in the 1stround, when their QB can’t throw…Genius. But hey, they signed perennial malcontent Earl Thomas to a deal worth way too much money for a guy coming off a broken leg and giving his old coach and fans the finger as he was carted off. While he meets all of the criteria required to be classless Raven, he just isn’t the player that he was back when he was making Richard Sherman look like an elite corner. Gonna be a long year in Baltimore I think. Final record 8-8.
Now here come the tears. I apologize to those of you who suffer from dermatoporosis, but I’m going Browns here. Now it’s a common misconception among our little community, that I think Baker Mayfield is not good. That is just plain not true, I think he is very good, I just don’t think that he’s a generational type talent. He’s also thinks an awful lot of himself and talks of winning quite often, which is funny since he’s never won anything of importance since his class 4A High School titles. Baker should be very good this season with the addition of legendary tool bag Odell Beckham Junior. And the Browns defense looks to be fairly stout. There’s just something about this team that gives me pause…Maybe it’s giving the reigns of the team to a rookie HC; who had been a lifetime positional coach up until his two months as OC last season; basically because it’s who your over-arrogant, 24 year old QB wanted as the HC…Or maybe it’s just that you never see the team that’s been riding the hype train all offseason succeed. They always fall on their face, it’s just gonna happen. Circle of life man. Final record 9-7 (playoff bubble).
That means second place in this little eight team ranking belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, let me start this analysis by saying this. The Steelers suck. But Grey Worm is still decent QB and until he shows us different he’ll be the difference this season because no team in the AFC North is without serious flaws. The Steelers secondary still blow, because it always does, but the Rooney family is not afraid to buy a few calls to keep other teams out of the endzone. The Steelers also used their supreme arrogance to their advantage, this offseason to not cow tow to the demands of their property and jettisoned their two most dynamic offensive weapons. This though will be addition by subtraction, in the case of AB, come on just look at what’s happening in Oakland right now…As for LB, that’s less of an addition in his loss, but the gain from losing AB is so great that it outweighs the net negative from handing the LB situation so poorly (it was handled poorly by everyone). So, the Steelers are the winner of the AFC North, not by talent, buy by default. Final record 10-6 (division champs).
And in first place, as always, the New England Patriots. I would like to say once again, what a difference a year makes…Just a short 12 months ago, had I been presented with a Patriots opening day roster that contained no real tight end, an undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver and a former defensive back, turned wide receiver, from Bemidji State named Gunner, who plays gunner, I would have told you that this team is fucked. But after years of predicting the Pats’ demise, only to be routinely embarrassed by Bill and Co, I am now one of the sheep. In Bill we trust. Who cares that your 1stround WR is on IR or that your current WR corps is led by Julian Edelman and his glass skeleton, Demaryius “Soft Serve” Thomas and Josh “Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got ‘Em” Gordon? Or your starting center from your last two Super Bowl titles just left the team with blood clots in his lungs and you’ll be relying on a guy that couldn’t hack it in Buffalo protecting Tom Brady’s greatest weakness (pressure up the middle)? Bill and Tom will work it out. Playing in the AFC East and being guaranteed at least 4 wins (I’m thinking 5 this year) also helps. My biggest challenge will be after the loss in Miami week 2, the Lions game last year was a true test for me last year and seeing as the Pats always start slow and the only ex-Belichick assistant in recent memory to lose to him in his return is the guy that just gave up like 14 drafts for a dope smoking fat guy from Miami and the Pats suck in Miami, that’s pretty much a scheduled loss. But after that, it should be fairly smooth sailing. Final record 13-3 (Division/ AFC Champs).
****Wild Card scenarios that while unlikely, will alter the results:
- If the Browns somehow manage to hold it together AND avoid a critical injury, they jump to #2 in these rankings and easily win the division, finishing 12-4.
- Tom Brady gets hurt and the Pats are forced to start Jarrett Stidham. If this happens before week 8, the Pats likely win only 10 games and possibly lose the division to the Bills. If this happens after week 8, the Pats only win 11 games and bow out in the 1stround of the playoffs.
- Josh Rosen somehow defies the odds and shows some of the natural talent that he possesses and made me believe that he was the most talented QB on the 2018 NFL draft. Then the Fins could reach the lofty heights of 7-9.