Will the Browns win the North?
By: Jeremy Trottier
The NFL Preseason is nearing its final week of play, and then we have a week off before the NFL season starts. This time of year is always particularly interesting, as many people are attempting to predict the division winners of each conference, and trying to make predictions as to which teams will make deep playoff runs, and which will fizzle out. With that said, in this article, I will be predicting the winner of each AFC division, as well as why I believe this is the case.
AFC North – Cleveland Browns
Starting off in the north, we have the Cleveland Browns, who made it the furthest of any team from this division in the playoffs last year and have been able to improve their team significantly since then. Additions like Troy Hill, Jadeveon Clowney, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Greg Newsome will really take this team and move it up the ranks.
The return of Odell Beckham Jr. as well as last year’s second-round pick Grant Delpit making his debut should improve the team even further than last year significantly. If the backfield duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can continue the tear they were going on last season, this team could be near unstoppable in the regular season.
AFC East – Buffalo Bills
As much as I have liked the New England Patriots off-season moves, I still think they are not yet there in terms of being division winners again. Buffalo filled their one biggest need in the offseason, that being edge rushing, with one of the best DEs in the class in Gregory Rousseau, as well as picking up Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. in the second round of the draft. The offense was not the issue with this team, it was extremely explosive last year.
The defense on the other hand was somewhat tamed compared to years past, these two additions should hugely impact their success along the defensive line and should allow them to make critical stops where they could not last season.
AFC South – Tennessee Titans
This one is all but solidified after the injuries sustained to Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson of the Indianapolis Colts, which may leave them out for the early half of the season. The Jaguars improved, for sure, but not to a point where they are considered for contention, and the Houston Texans are basically fighting for last in the league more than likely. The Titans on the other hand added one of the most star-studded receivers in the league, Julio Jones.
The 1-2 punch of Julio Jones and A.J. Brown is one that should be feared immensely. The additions of Caleb Farley and Monty Rice should help them out significantly on the defensive side, and Dillon Radunz should be able to protect Ryan Tannehill long enough to get the ball out.
AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs
This division could be getting closer than in years past with the Chargers and Justin Herbert seemingly on the horizon as the next big team. With that said, that time is not yet here. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce still remain the focal points of this offense, and the return of Clyde Edwards-Helaire will help them get some productivity in the run game.
In terms of additions, the Chiefs brought in OT Orlando Brown Jr., who should help protect Mahomes from the outside and help out in the run protection as well. To lock up the interior they got C Creed Humphrey, one of my personal favorite IOLs entering this draft class. Overall, the rich have gotten richer, and should be poised for another playoff run.