As the off-season comes to a close, the NFL is split into two categories. There are contenders and there are pretenders. Nobody knows which teams are which yet, but we have an idea. Here are the best and worst teams in each division, starting with the AFC.
The Best and Worst Team in All AFC Divisions
The AFC West
The Best: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs play in the AFC West, which is arguably the best division in the league. The Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, and the Chiefs are all talented teams. All three have serious playoff potential. Picking the best team in the division was no easy task. Ultimately, the Chiefs win out because they’ve already proven what they can do. Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, and Travis Kelce put together a strong offense, while the likes of Marcus Peters, Eric Berry, and Justin Houston help make up one of the best defenses in football.
The real reason that the Chiefs win this category is they don’t have anything to prove. They ended the regular season with the longest win streak in the league. Houston’s injury and the loss of Sean Smith will hurt, but the team is still very talented. The Broncos have taken a step back, and the Oakland Raiders may have improved, but the Chiefs are still king in the west.
The Worst: San Diego Chargers
Even if the San Diego Chargers weren’t a bad team, they suffer from playing in the AFC West. They were swept by all three of their divisional rivals last year, and even though Denver got worse, everyone else got better. Outside of Philip Rivers, an aging Antonio Gates, and Keenan Allen, this team is starved for talent. Rookie Joey Bosa might bring a spark to their defense, but even then, he pales in comparison to the likes of Houston, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack.
The AFC North
The Best: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers have arguably the best offensive trio in the NFL. Between Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh’s offense is loaded. Yet again, Bell is suspended for the first four games, but with his injury history, fewer snaps might be a good thing. If Bell can take pressure off of Roethlisberger and Brown, their offense will be explosive. On defense, they’re not fantastic, but they’re good enough. Young linebacker Ryan Shazier is set to have a breakout season, and frankly, the AFC North is a mystery.
The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are also talented teams, but they lack the explosion that Pittsburgh has on offense. Baltimore’s Steve Smith and Mike Wallace will be 37 and 30 respectively when the season starts, and Joe Flacco is coming off of a serious knee injury. In Cincinnati, wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu bolted in free agency, and even at full strength, the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 25 years.
The Worst: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are laughably bad. On offense, they lost Travis Benjamin to the Chargers, and their biggest free agent acquisition was 33 year old cornerback Tramon Williams. Robert Griffin will be their starting quarterback when the season starts, and they’re at least two years away from being competitive, assuming head coach Hue Jackson gets to keep his job.
The AFC South
The Best: Indianapolis Colts
A lot of people would put either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Houston Texans here. The Texans won the AFC South last season, and that was before they added quarterback Brock Osweiler and runner Lamar Miller. As far as the Jaguars are concerned, despite being one of the worst teams in the league last season, they’ve received a ton of off-season hype.
The Indianapolis Colts do have one thing that nobody else in the division has, and that’s Andrew Luck. After an injury-prone 2015 season, people have forgotten how incredible Luck really is. Just two seasons ago, Luck threw for 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns. Behind a revamped offensive line, Andrew Luck should return to form and lead the Colts to the playoffs in 2016.
The Worst: Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are a strange team. They have multiple Heisman trophy winners on the roster, along with talented receivers Dorial Green-Beckham and Andre Johnson on offense, but they don’t figure to be very good this year. They loaded up on draft picks, so assuming they draft well, they could be a competitive team in a season or two.
The AFC East
The Best: New England Patriots
This is the most obvious of all the divisions. With Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman on the field and Bill Belichick calling the shots, the New England Patriots are better than ever. With the greatest quarterback of all time suspended for four games, the Patriots might struggle early, but there’s no doubt they’ll right the ship down the road.
The Worst: Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are the best worst team in the AFC. The Patriots are the best team in the AFC East, but the difference between the Miami Dolphins, Bills, and New York Jets isn’t that great. The Bills were first in rushing offense last year, and have plenty of young talent. With Rex and Rob Ryan behind the wheel in a must-win scenario, fans of the Bills are in for a crazy season. However, there are questions about how good quarterback Tyrod Taylor really is, and if he’s reached his ceiling, the Bills won’t be very good in 2016.
Make sure you also check out the NFC version of this article!