Yesterday, I predicted that the AFC North, AFC South, and AFC West division champions this upcoming 2013-2014 season will be the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos.
Today, I will tell you why I think the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and the Kansas City Chiefs, that’s right, the last place Chiefs, will be responsible for the final three playoff spots in the AFC.
2013-2014 AFC East Champions-New England Patriots
In the past decade, the head coach/quarterback duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady has made New England one of the few teams in the league that you can pencil in each year to make the playoffs before the season were to even start. But with all the off-the-field issues the Patriots organization has run into during this past offseason, I think it will be interesting to see how New England reacts, seeing that what they had to deal with this summer is new to the “Patriot Way” of doing things.
It all began with the on-and-off contract negotiations the Patriots had with Wes Welker’s agent, David Dunn, about signing the Pro Bowl receiver to a new deal. After a few cases of “he-said-he-said”coming from Dunn and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, both sides ended up finding themselves parting ways with one another. Welker eventually landed a deal with the Denver Broncos, and the Patriots signed a deal with former St. Louis wideout Danny Amendola, who they are planning to be Welker’s replacement. Both sides of the deal “blamed each other” for why they could not reach on an agreement.
While that nonsense was going on, Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski underwent a 4th surgery on his infected forearm. If you think that was bad, the Gronkowski surgery sweepstakes didn’t just stop there.
On June 18, Gronkowski underwent another surgery , but this time it was on his back. According to some analysts on ESPN, they say there is a good chance that Gronkowski will start the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which means he won’t be able to suit up to at least week 7 when the Patriots will travel to the MetLife Stadium to play against the New York Jets.
Then came the Aaron Hernandez situation. When I first heard the news that he was a prime suspect in the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, 27, I thought he was an idiot for even putting himself around that nonsense. But after hearing that he’s been gang-affiliated and has had a history with different murder cases in the past, I just think the former Pro Bowl tight end is just a complete moron to say the least. The only thing I have to conclude about this whole situation is that I hope justice gets served.
So what does this mean for the Patriots in this upcoming 13-14 season? That Tom Brady will be without his 5 top receiving targets in 2012 for at least the first 6 games (Brandon Lloyd is a free agent and Danny Woodhead signed with the San Diego Chargers).
The only thing the Patriots got going for them coming into this season, is..well..the head coach/quarterback duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
It’s hard for someone to go against both of those master minds, especially since they are the most winningest head coach/quarterback tandem in the NFL since the 1970 merger of the AFC/NFC.
Winning the AFC East division title will be a tough task for the Patriots to accomplish, especially with the emergence of the young and talented Miami Dolphins. But when you have a quarterback like Brady leading your team, nothing is ever impossible to really overcome.
2013-2014 AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were the NFL’s feel-good story last season after the whole organization rallied behind their head coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier in the year.
In their first game without their head coach, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and veteran receiver Reggie Wayne connected at the most critical moments, including a 4-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds left to complete the Colts’ second-half rally and stun Green Bay 30-27 on perhaps the most emotional day in Lucas Oil Stadium history.
The No. 1 draft pick, Luck, was 31 of 55 throwing with two touchdowns and one interception. He ran for a TD, too. Wayne finished with 13 receptions for a career-high 212 yards — the second-highest total in Colts history behind Hall of Famer Raymond Berry in 1957. Wayne and Luck proved to be “Chuck Strong,” which was a rally chant that went around the city of Indianapolis for their head coach and his fight to overcome leukemia.
In 2012, Luck proved to his critics that his success as being a pocket quarterback in the collegiate level can carry over to the professional level, as he led his Colts team to a 11-5 record, which eventually clinched them the 5th seed in the AFC playoffs. Their 11 wins last season was a 9-win turnaround from the previous year, where they finished the regular season with a league-worst 2-14 record.
During this year’s offseason, the Colts added veteran running back Ahmad Bradshaw to complement their rookie quarterback sensation.
I think the Bradshaw acquisition was a perfect fit for both himself and for the Colts. Bradshaw will get the opportunity to prove to his critics that he can carry the load as a full-time back, while Luck will get to hand the ball off and check down to his new back, who is someone that’s been proven to do both very well.
I won’t be surprised if the Colts give the Texans all they can handle when it comes to the AFC South title. I think the head-to-head matchups between the two and their records within the division will decide who will be at the top of the AFC South once the season is over.
2013-2014 Wild Card- Kansas City Chiefs
Some of you may think that I am out of my mind for picking the Chiefs as my last team to represent the AFC in the playoffs this upcoming 13-14 season. Well, I understand where you readers are coming from, especially since they finished 2012 with a league-worst and also tied for a franchise-worst record of 2-14. Well before you judge me, lets play this game I like to call Who’s That Team and see how you feel about my pick afterwards:
Who’s That Team
- Who’s That Team: who finished with five pro bowlers last season
- Who’s That Team: That among all current coaches in the NFL, have the second winningest head coach
- Who’s That Team: That has the fourth-best running back in the league in terms of rushing yards last season
- Who’s That Team: That ranked 5th in total rushing yards last season
- Who’s That Team: Before being hurt and getting his job taken away from him, their current starting quarterback was ranked third in the NFL last season in passer rating (104.1), led the league in completion percentage (70%), and had been 19–5–1 as a starter under his former head coach
- Who’s That Team: That plays in the worst division in football in terms of total team wins last season
If any of you geniuses out there haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is the current 2013 Kansas City Chiefs.
I expect this Chiefs team to compete right away after acquiring a quarterback like Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers via trade and signing a coach like Andy Reid.
Reid has always been known to being an offensive specialist kind of coach. So with having a guy like Jamaal Charles playing running back for him, who has a similar style of play to what Reid had in Philadelphia with LeSean McCoy, expect the Chiefs offense to be explosive, yet balanced, in this upcoming season. And with having a guy like Smith playing quarterback, you can expect the Chief’s to turn that explosiveness into wins.
Also, the fact that the Chiefs play in the AFC West, which is the worst division to me in the NFL, only helps out with my reasoning of why the Chiefs will quietly sneak into the AFC Playoff picture once the season is all said and done.
Follow me on twitter: @MrOT3