Training camp is just days away, and it's never too early to start some preseason predictions. In fact, there were so many predictions filling my brain, I had too many for one post. On Tuesday, I predicted that the Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC East; here are six more predictions for the AFC.
And without further ado ...
The New England Patriots will make the playoffs
So this might not seem like a bold prediction on the surface, but consider that the New England Patriots missed the playoffs the last time they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. The Patriots also have the easiest schedule in the league. The team with the easiest schedule has missed the playoffs in five consecutive seasons -- that streak ends here.
The Buffalo Bills are playoff-bound
One team always flies under the radar to make the playoffs. The Tennessee Titans might be a nice initial pick to do this, but an early schedule will usher in the beginning of the Jake Locker Era by Week 5. So I'm going with the Bills. Improvements on defense (especially regarding the pass rush), the return of Fred Jackson and the growth of C.J. Spiller have this team moving in the right direction -- toward the playoffs.
A former SEC quarterback will start for the New York Jets
That's right everybody, at some point this season, Mark Sanchez will be benched in favor of Greg McElroy. What, you were expecting the other guy? I see Tim Tebow doing well in his role as the modern-day Jim Jensen (Google him, he was awesome). At some point, Sanchez will stink (inevitable) and McElroy will end up starting. And, as a bonus prediction, I say Tim Tebow's visit to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14 forces the Jaguars to take down the tarps!
Andrew Luck has more rushing touchdowns than RG3
A lot of people overlook Andrew Luck's athleticism, but his numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine were pretty legit. And if the measurables don't strike you, here's Luck trucking a defender, de-cleating an unfortunate DB and making a one-handed grab against UCLA. Not only will Luck's athleticism shine, he's going to revive Reggie Wayne's career the same way Cam Newton helped Steve Smith.
The San Diego Chargers will make the playoffs
The Chargers rival the Dallas Cowboys in terms of preseason coronations for playoffs and Super Bowl appearances. The Chargers are coming off a crummy year, but Philip Rivers will get it together and the defense actually looks pretty good. But here's the thing; I truly believe Norv Turner will find another way to survive and add five more years to his career in San Diego.
The Denver Broncos won't make the playoffs
Our perception of the NFL gets warped as we play too much fantasy football and Madden. But players don't just switch from one team to another and automatically perform at the highest level. Especially when those players are coming back from a year-long absence caused by neck surgery. If Manning were coming back with Jeff Saturday, Reggie Wayne and the rest of his cronies, I could see a big year from him. But having to work with an entirely new team in an entirely new city? It's not happening.