Saturday, August 24, 2013

NFL Preview: AFC East and AFC North

     The NFL regular season is coming up quickly, so get your beer and reserve Sunday as a day exclusively for you and your buddies. That also means that the NFL previews and predictions are coming as well. Let's start off with two divisions in the AFC, which includes the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.

     AFC East:
  1. New England Patriots: The Patriots have had a eventful offseason, which includes signing ESPN's eye candy Tim Tebow, Wes Welker defecting to the Denver Broncos, Rob Gronkowski having back surgery, and the arrest of former tight end Aaron Hernandez for murder. In fact, Tom Brady suffered a scare when he hurt his knee during practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on August 14. But keep an eye on rookie receiver Kendrell Thompkins, who has looked great this preseason and has shown some chemistry with Brady.
  2. *Miami Dolphins: The Fins gave their quarterback Ryan Tannehill a new toy by getting wide receiver Mike Wallace from the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is good news for Miami especially considering that their main divisional competition, New England, was ranked 29th in passing yards allowed per game last year. Wallace and Brian Hartline will be a sleeper receiving tandem in the NFL this year. But losing Dustin Keller for the season to a knee injury does hurt. OLB and 1st-round draft pick Dion Jordan will join DE Cameron Wake on the pass rush.
  3. Buffalo Bills: C.J. Spiller has the makings to become the next Barry Sanders: An elusive back who can gain lots of yards in spite of not having much of an offensive line. In fact, he might do better than the 1,244 yards and six touchdowns he had last year. But that will be the only reason for Bills fans to get excited aside from the special teams since there's not much else going on. 
  4. New York Jets: There's a lot of talk about Rex Ryan being on the hot seat, so don't be surprised if Mr. Foot Fetish gets canned next offseason. Also, don't be surprised if the Jets do something about Mark Sanchez in case he continues to disappoint. Darrelle Revis will be missed, but the Jets will have a deep secondary with Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. The Jets' secondary allowed the 2nd-fewest yards in the NFL last year with 189.8 YPG in spite of only getting eleven interceptions.
     AFC North
  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton has quietly led the Bengals to two straight playoff appearances, throwing for 3,669 yards and 27 TDs. This included three 300-yard passing games in his first six starts of last season. WR A.J. Green (97 receptions, 1,350 yards receiving, 11 TDs), TE Jermaine Gresham (64 receptions, 737 receiving yards, five TDs), and RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (278 carries, 1,094 rushing yards, six TDs) are also keys to the Bengals' offense. Signing James Harrison to bolster a defense that's already stingy helps.
  2. Baltimore Ravens: The defending Super Bowl champs will look A LOT different compared to last season. Ray Lewis and Rolando McClain retired. Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans. Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. But in return, they refueled by getting defensive ends Elvis Dumervil and Marcus Spears along with signing Joe Flacco to a new six-year deal worth $120.6 million. Flacco (3,817 passing yards, 22 TDs, ten INTs last year) has shown that he can be an elite QB, having a career completion rate of 60.5%. He also tied Joe Montana's postseason record for most touchdown passes without an interception with 11 last year. He also has a playoff record of 9-4.
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers: In spite of the Steelers being the best in total defense last season (4,413 yards allowed), their defense have garnered only 35 takeaways in the last two seasons combined. Their defense is also getting older and Ben Roethlisberger will miss having Mike Wallace to throw to. Roethlisberger must also stay healthy; Pittsburgh was 6-3and scoring 23 points a game before Big Ben went down with a rib injury and 2-5 with an average of 18.4 points per game after it. Draft pick Le'Veon Bell being out with a mid-foot sprain doesn't help either.
  4. Cleveland Browns: Watch for Trent Richardson to have a big season; he had 950 rushing yards on 267 carries and 11 TDs. The Browns are also taking baby steps forward with their linebackers, signing Paul Kruger and drafting Barkevious Mingo. Notably absent from the Browns' roster is return man and highlight reel Josh Cribbs, who has signed with the Oakland Raiders.

1 comment:


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