Week 1 of the NFL season saw a lot of surprising results. The Dolphins look like the worst team in football. Tom Brady and New England added Antonio Brown, so the rich just got a lot richer, which is bad news for anyone who hates the Patriots. There are a few teams that can still put themselves in contention for a deep playoff run in the AFC, so today we will focus on the seven teams we think have realistic shots at winning their division in 2019.
AFC East: New England Patriots
The Patriots made a statement in Week 1 in a showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers. As usual, Mike Tomlin was taken to the woodshed by Bill Belichick, falling to 3-11 against him (including the playoffs) after a 33-3 beatdown in Foxboro. Tom Brady playing at the age of 42 looks great, and the Patriots signing superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown could make this offense even scarier.
Brown is the best receiver in the game when his head is on straight, and if he can have a similar impact that Randy Moss did in 2007, we could be looking at another run to the Super Bowl for New England.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore had the best performance of the opening week, dismantling the Dolphins 59-10. Lamar Jackson looked like a stud, throwing five touchdown passes in the Ravens victory. The defense didn’t slow down after last season’s excellent showing, and the secondary is still one of the toughest to face in the conference.
AFC North: Cleveland Browns
Cleveland had a humbling loss to the Titans, but we still think this will be one of the best offenses in the league. The game against the Jets looks like the only winnable one in September, but this team will still be fun to watch.
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers,
The beating the Steelers took shouldn’t be the measuring stick for their entire season. Yes, the team no longer has Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell, but the offense will still be explosive in 2019. The issues will be in the secondary, as New England receivers routinely beat their defensive backs deep. The next stretch of games includes the Seahawks, 49ers, and Bengals, so they should get to at least .500.
AFC South: Houston Texans
Although they took a tough loss in Week 1, we think this will be the Texans division to lose. Even with the trade of Jadeveon Clowney, the defense still has JJ Watt, and the offense got two major boosts in Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills from Miami. Andrew Luck is gone, Nick Foles is out for at least 11 weeks, and the Titans don’t show up when it’s time to play in big spots.
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs
You can’t expect the league MVP not to be included in this argument. Kansas City’s offense looked great in Week 1, even with some showboating from Patrick Mahomes. Tyreek Hill is one of the most dangerous weapons in football, and we think the schedule slots up easy for Kansas City. This team should win the division if healthy, but we know there is a pesky team in Los Angeles that will put up a fight.
AFC West: Los Angeles Chargers
Is Philip Rivers criminally underrated? He’s been one of the best quarterbacks since entering the NFL in the famous draft with Eli Manning and Big Ben, but he never seems to do enough to get his team over the hump. Los Angeles went toe-to-toe with K.C. last season, and if the two teams have to fight for the division, we give the Chargers a puncher’s chance.