Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 AFC Playoff Seeding Predictions

1. Indianapolis Colts (13-3): The Colts had one of the busiest offseasons of any team in the league, adding plenty of talented veterans such as receiver Andre Johnson, running back Frank Gore, safety Mike Adams, and outside linebacker Trent Cole. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck enters his fourth season, where over the past three years, his completion percentage, touchdown percentage, and passer rating have all increased. Next year, don't be surprised if Luck is able to snatch the Most Valuable Player Award away from Aaron Rodgers.

2. New England Patriots (12-4): While the New England Patriots are almost guaranteed to earn a spot in the playoffs next season, their exact seeding depends on how many games Tom Brady will be able to play in 2015 due to his suspension. The Patriots certainly lost plenty of talented players this past offseason--Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork, Shane Vereen--but if there is any coach in the league capable of creating a Championship caliber team with a reduced amount of talent, it is six time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick. Moreover, Tom Brady seems to play his best when the critics and doubters are at their absolute loudest.

3. Denver Broncos (11-5): After suffering a torn right quadriceps, posting a passer rating of 76.8 in the month of December, and having his team lose in their first playoff game, Peyton Manning appears to be nearing the end of his career (or so they say). The truth is, Manning likely has one or two more years left to compete for a Super Bowl, and taking into account Manning's age and the loss of Eric Decker and Julius Thomas the past two seasons, Denver will likely need to rely more on running back CJ Anderson. Anderson became the starter for the Broncos in the final few weeks, and in games where the he had twenty or more attempts, the Broncos went 4-0. A reduced workload for Manning may result in another division title for Manning and the Broncos, but the Chargers are certainly talented enough to regain control of the division.

4. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): The Ravens passing game took a pretty sizable hit this past offseason by losing receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Thus, more pressure will be put on "Cool Joe" Flacco offensively, as well as running back Justin Forsett, one of last year's breakout stars. Meanwhile, Baltimore's defense ranked sixth last season in terms of points allowed, fourth in rushing yards allowed, but just 23rd in passing yards allowed. Hopefully, the signing of cornerback Kyle Arrington will be able to help Baltimore's pass defense.

5. San Diego Chargers (11-5): The San Diego Chargers easily have the talent necessary to dethrone the broncos from atop the AFC West. First, quarterback Phillip Rivers is entering the last year of his contract, and will be looking to produce the same numbers he had at the start of the 2014 season. Second, the additions of rookie running back Melvin Gordon through the draft and wide receiver Jacoby Jones through free agency will add versatility to this offense that was not present last season. Don't be surprised if the Chargers make a run at one of the higher seeds in the playoffs this postseason.

6. Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Buffalo Bills are most definitely going to be a hit or miss team in 2015 with new head coach Rex Ryan at the helm. This Bills team is a slightly better version of the New York Jets team that went 4-12 last season: solid running game, talented defensive line, but no quarterback. The Bills managed to acquire All-Pro caliber running back LeSean McCoy who can hopefully take some pressure off of quarterbacks Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel.

Teams On the Bubble
Cincinnati Bengals: Have made the playoffs for four straight seasons, but the organization's confidence in quarterback Andy Dalton is beginning to fade

New York Jets: A great defensive line become even better with rookie Leonard Williams and a new head coach. But one can not put too much confidence in Geno Smith

Pittsburgh Steelers: Big Ben is now one year older, and the rookies that Pittsburgh drafted are unlikely to improve a relatively weak secondary.

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