With the 2019 NFL season almost here it only makes sense to make predictions that may or may not come true. Each season there is change regarding which teams wind up making the playoffs. This season probably won’t be any different.
Below are some 2019 AFC playoff predictions.
2019 AFC Playoff Predictions
The New England Patriots won the division yet again last season. It was their 10th consecutive AFC East title and 17th in 19 years. There is absolutely no reason to believe it will be any different this season. The Pats may have lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and Trey Flowers to free agency, but they still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, along with what should be a pretty good defense.
It’s also really difficult to trust any of the other teams in the division to dethrone New England. That will happen at some point, but not in 2019. Brady, Belichick and company will take yet another divisional crown.
The Baltimore Ravens wound up taking the AFC North title last season after making a change at quarterback by inserting rookie Lamar Jackson under center. Joe Flacco is now with the Denver Broncos and C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs are gone as well, but John Harbaugh’s team made some quality acquisitions this off-season, including safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram.
The Cleveland Browns, the most hyped team this off-season, haven’t won the division since 1989. The Browns have a lot of talent, including Baker Mayfield and Myles Garrett and off-season additions Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson.
The Pittsburgh Steelers missed the postseason last season and both Le’Veon Bell (who sat out all of last season) and Antonio Brown are no longer in Pittsburgh. Will those losses hurt the Steelers since both Bell and Brown are supremely talented or will it help the team since there will be less distractions and both James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster have proven how talented they are?
The Cincinnati Bengals will not compete for the division or even a postseason berth and the Ravens could take a step back from last season. The AFC North victor will be either the Browns or Steelers and it’s most likely Cleveland’s time. The Browns will end their playoff drought by winning the division this season.
The Houston Texans took the AFC South crown last season for the third time in four seasons behind strong performances from Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans then got absolutely boat raced by the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
Nine of the last 10 AFC South titles have been won by either the Texans or Colts so can either the Jacksonville Jaguars (who still have Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey and upgraded at quarterback by adding Nick Foles this off-season) or Tennessee Titans disrupt that pattern this season?
Watson has dealt with ACL tears in both college and the NFL, but he is electric when healthy. Andrew Luck has previously dealt with injuries, including a serious shoulder issue (torn labrum in his throwing shoulder) that caused him to miss significant time. And per reports from Adam Schefter Saturday night, Luck has reportedly decided to retire from the NFL.
Prior to the news of Luck’s retirement the pick here would have been the Colts. But without Luck under center it is seriously doubtful Indy wins the division. So will it be the Texans, who lost Lamar Miller for the season to an ACL tear he suffered Saturday night and who traded Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks, Jaguars or Titans who take the division?
The Texans would have been a somewhat easy choice, with Luck no longer in the NFL, but Miller’s injury and the Clowney does change things a little. However, the Texans are still the pick, but the Jags, with Foles now under center, and Titans are now closer to competing for the division title.
Last season the race for the AFC West crown came down to a really close competition between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers, with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes edging out Philip Rivers and the Chargers for the division title.
It will be a race between the Chiefs and Chargers yet again this season. The Denver Broncos upgraded at quarterback by adding Joe Flacco and the Oakland Raiders added some offensive firepower in Antonio Brown (and maybe a headache or two) but neither team will really challenge for the top of the division this season.
This season Rivers and the Chargers will take the AFC West by a slim margin.
Last season the Colts and Chargers earned the two AFC Wild Card spots. Per the predictions in this article the division winners are the Patriots, Browns, Texans and Chargers. This season the first Wild Card slot (and therefore five seed) will go to the Chiefs. There’s no way Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid miss the postseason. There’s too much talent on the roster and Reid knows how to utilize Mahomes’ incredible abilities.
In the comparatively weak conference from top to bottom, it seems likely that the Steelers get back to the postseason after missing last season, especially with the news of Andrew Luck’s retirement from the NFL.