Last week, I went through the NFC to pick out which teams look like they might have legitimate championship aspirations.
This week, we hit the other league.
And wow…there are a lot of crappy teams in the AFC.
What exactly happened? This was the power conference for most of the last decade-plus, no? Super Bowl wins starting with the Broncos in 1998 and ’99, Ravens in 2000, three for the Pats, two for the Steelers, one for the Colts.
From 1998-2009, the AFC won 9 out of 12 championships. Now? The tables have turned.
Or maybe, the tables have collapsed?
The AFC boasts five teams with one or fewer wins. Wait, what’s the opposite of “boasts”? Tolerates?
Add to that the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, and Colts, and that’s fully nine teams with no shot at a title this season from the AFC. What of the rest, hmm?
New England Patriots/Denver Broncos
Start with the Pats:
This team is firmly in the iPhone 5 stage of the Belichick years. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, they add a new wrinkle.
They went from gritty underdogs to defensive wizards to offensive juggernauts and are now debuting a new, balanced offensive attack.
Can you ever really count this team out? “Not unless they’re playing the Giants,” he said, looking at his two Sports Illustrated Giants Championship footballs.
As for this past weekend, the Pats laid a smackdown on a Denver team that is a Frankenstein combination of Peyton Manning’s incessant audibles and Demaryius Thomas’ inexplicable drops. Is there anything about the Broncos that makes you go, “Oh wow, that is so The Broncos.” Not really.
They rush the passer OK with 10 sacks so far. They fumble like crazy, minus-6 in turnovers. They give up chunks of yardage on the ground. Peyton is having a great year so far, but this is looking like a 9-7 team for sure.
Of course, with our next candidate, that might be enough to win the division.
Verdict: Pats – Yay, Den – Nay
I mean, you try to figure out the Pats backfield.
I felt like a genius snapping up Brandon Bolden before last week, but I have no confidence in starting him if Shane Vereen and Tommy B himself are going to be vulturing touchdowns.
It’s just as bad as, well, trying to figure out who in the hell will be catching Manning’s 3 TDs per week.
Thomas is a safe bet to keep racking up big numbers, but after that… Joel Dressen? Brandon Stokley, who played at Louisiana-Lafayette before the Louisiana Purchase? Eric Decker, who is very handsome? Good luck.
Take good mental snapshots of Peyton in that pumpkin orange jersey. They’ll go into your picture database next to Joe Montana in a Chiefs uniform and Jerry Rice in a Seahawks jersey and Robert Griffin III with full brain function.
San Diego Super Chargers
This team has been the biggest tease for the last decade, after years and years of futility. They went from 1995-2004 without a winning season, starred in countless Jay Leno monologues, and since then have had no losing seasons but a 3-5 postseason record.
The window on this team has closed, officially.
Yes, they lost to a crazy fired up Saints team on the road, and a title-contending Falcons squad at home, but their three wins this year are against teams with a combined 3-11 record. I don’t trust this team at all, ever, and I have a feeling they are headed straight for another decade of futility as soon as the last glimmers of hope around Phillip Rivers are fumbled away by Ryan Mathews. (He’s a millionaire, you think he could afford one more T in his last name.)
Verdict: Not bloody likely
Rolled the dice with Jackie Battle after his two TD day and was rewarded with 1.7 points. So, there’s that.
Also prominently involved in my fantasy weekend were Antonio Gates and Rivers, which maybe explains why I am so angry at a team that plays in the wonderful, sunny, beautiful city that is San Diego.
So the Jets did absolutely everything in their power short of intentionally injuring players (oh wait), and the Texans still handled them with ease.
The Jets played with the desperation of a meth-addled junkie trapped in an alley, armed only with a rusty knife and a strong distaste for sobriety. The Texans swatted them aside with ease, despite getting nothing from Andre Johnson, thanks to a ridiculous performance from Arian Foster and the continued emergence of everyone’s new Great White Hope, J.J. Watt.
Watt’s arm brace makes him look like he’s half-bionic, which somehow makes him scarier.
They took the fake punts and the onside kicks and the gadget plays and “fearsome” Jets home crowd and allowed 10 points on defense, not counting a flukey kickoff return.
With Green Bay and Baltimore on the docket, this is where we find out what the Texans are made of. Of which they are made. Never end a sentence with a preposition.
Verdict: Football, Good at.
I didn’t realize how old Andre Johnson is, and watching him disappear after making him my first-round pick in one league made me, let’s say, freak out? I am definitely looking to trade him ASAP, but hopefully after a nice 10-catch, one score day that makes him more attractive. I play pretend GM just like the grownups do!
I still maintain that this is the best team in the AFC, and that this just sort of feels like a Ravens year. But if the Orioles beat the Yankees this week, then Charm City may have used up all of its charm in one shot.
The 9-6 “victory” over the Chiefs is not exactly worth cracking crabs over. They’ve got rough waters ahead. John Waters. Hairspray takes place in Baltimore. Ok, that’s all I got.
Verdict: Play Better, Dammit
Why are the Chiefs giving Jamaal Charles the Larry Johnson special? He is projected to carry 326 times this year, a year after a major injury, with another 48 touches through the air, on a team going absolutely no where this year.
This is why you can’t have nice things, The Chiefs. With your racist team name.
I… I don’t know.
Losing to the Dolphins was not a fun sign for the Bengals. Barely beating an Eagles team that plays like the replacements in the movie, The Replacements, is also not so great.
The Bengals have a semi-tough schedule, but get the Steelers, Broncos, and Giants at home in a row with a bye week in there for good measure, so that counts for something.
The Steelers defense is typically terrific, but they have a bottom-ranked run game and no bye week left to nurse their Crazy-88s-at-the-end-of-Kill-Bill-level injured list. I hate counting them out, so I won’t. But I think the Bengals are also-rans this year.
Verdict: <:-( A Sad Man In A Party Hat
Uniformed Picks Are Suddenly Informed
Yeah, that’s right. I went 5-0 last week, nailing the Giants, Pats, Steelers, Seahawks and Texans.
Lots of pressure to repeat, huh? FINE.
I’ll take the 49ers to beat the Giants in San Fran for the umpteenth time, the Colts to beat the Jets in NJ, Baltimore to beat Dallas, the Vikings to beat the Redskins in DC, and Denver to pull off a Monday Night win in San Diego.
Those are my picks, unless they are wrong, in which case I was totally kidding.