2012 NFL Preview: AFC

September 7, 2012

Hopefully all of you enjoyed the small taste of NFL action that was provided on Wednesday night. I still don’t understand the point of starting the season with one game in the middle of the week, but it seemed to satisfy people.

On a more somber note, it would be wrong of me not to acknowledge the passing of Art Modell, even though my roommates would rather I not do so. R.I.P, Art…you’ll always be the reason that the real Browns play in Baltimore.

Here is my AFC preview.

AFC East

1. New England Patriots (14-2)

2. Buffalo Bills (8-8)

3. Miami Dolphins (8-8)

4. New York Jets (7-9)

Why They’ll Win

This isn’t a bad division, but the Patriots are without a doubt the cream of the crop and won’t have too much trouble making it back to the playoffs this season. Maybe Tom Brady & Co. will even have a small chip on their shoulder this season after losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl two out of the past four years. Regardless, the schedule isn’t extremely difficult and the offense is still strong, so don’t expect New England to be sitting at home in early January.

Once again, the Patriots will have Super Bowl aspirations from Week 1. The defense may be a small concern for Bill Belichick, but only to the extent that the defense is a concern to the Green Bay Packers (which isn’t much).

Keep An Eye On


I was a big fan of how the Dolphins played during the second half of the season last year. With a rookie quarterback, there may be some growing pains early on, but I believe that Miami has the capability to survive the loss of Brandon Marshall and recently Chad Johnson.

Rookie quarterbacks don’t always struggle as much as some people expect them to. Ryan Tannehill knows Mike Sherman’s playbook already; if he is the real deal, Miami could give New England a reason not to coast to the finish line.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (11-5)

2. Denver Broncos (10-6)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (3-13)

4. Oakland Raiders (3-13)

Why They’ll Win

Philip Rivers did not have the type of season some thought he might in 2011, but I think he is poised to have a comeback year. Rivers has a talented receiving corps to throw to this season, and an improved San Diego defense should give him a lot of opportunities to take advantage of that.

People may be underestimating the Chargers after last season’s disappointment, but be careful of assuming that the new sheriff in town up in Denver will be an instant hit. Rivers is a talented quarterback and might just challenge the notion that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the AFC West.

Keep An Eye On

Kansas City

The Chiefs could go either way this season. Although I have them going the wrong way, Kansas City does have good depth at running back and one of the better defenses in the AFC. If Peyton Hillis and Jamaal Charles can stay healthy, they could be the engine behind one of the NFL’s biggest surprises this season. That is a huge if, though, considering Charles’ injury history and Hillis’…well, we’ll just call it injury history.

AFC North

1. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

3. Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)

4. Cleveland Browns (3-13)

Why They’ll Win

Like many years in the past, I think that Cincinnati will take a step back after last season’s surprise success. That essentially renders this a two team race for the division title (sorry Cleveland). Baltimore’s defense is getting old, but still appears to have enough left in the tank to remain strong for another season. As long as Joe Flacco is behind center and Ray Rice is healthy, Baltimore won’t turn the ball over much and will score just enough points to win games. Lastly, Pittsburgh might be a one-dimensional team on offense unless an unknown running back steps up.

The Ravens saw their shot at a Super Bowl go wide left last January, which should be added motivation to make it back to the playoffs this season. Expect Baltimore to be a contender once again.

Keep An Eye On


Teams that I predict will take a step back tend to win a lot of games, maybe in spite of me. Cincinnati has the talent to make it back to the playoffs for a second consecutive season, and it wouldn’t even be a major shock if they do. The Bengals had a solid 2012 draft outing and should be even better on defense as a result. The only thing that is working against the Bengals is their 0-7 mark against playoff teams last season and the fact that the tail end of their schedule this season is brutal.

If the defensive line is dominant again this year and the running game is improved thanks to the addition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, there is no reason why the Bengals can’t put together two good seasons in a row.

AFC South

1. Houston Texans (11-5)

2. Tennessee Titans (6-10)

3. Indianapolis Colts (5-11)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)

Why They’ll Win

This is the weakest division in the AFC, which gives Houston, the only team that is sure to have a solid offense, the clear upper hand. If Matt Schaub stays healthy for the entire year, it may begin to make sense near the end of the season why some analysts are so high on the Texans. There isn’t any reason why they shouldn’t sweep their slate of division matchups.

What will separate the Texans from a simple division champion and a Super Bowl contender will be the defense. Houston was one of the best in the league defensively last season, but lost some key parts, most notably defensive end Mario Williams. It will be interesting to see how the defense responds to the loss of leadership that Williams brought to that side of the ball.

Keep An Eye On


Andrew Luck isn’t your average rookie. Yes, he will have games where he will struggle, but he will also probably have games where you’ll have to remind yourself that this is only his first year in the league. Luck is a major reason why the Colts are a team to keep an eye on even though it’s unlikely that they’ll make the playoffs this season.

An improvement of four or even five wins over last year is not out of the question for this team. If the Carolina Panthers improved as much as they did in one season with Cam Newton, the Colts can improve similarly with Andrew Luck guiding the offense.


Wild Card

Denver (Wild Card) vs. Houston

Winner: Denver

Pittsburgh (Wild Card) vs. San Diego

Winner: San Diego


Denver vs. New England

Winner: New England

San Diego vs. Baltimore

Winner: Baltimore

Conference Championship

Baltimore vs. New England

Winner: New England

If you’ve read both my NFC and AFC previews, you know that my Super Bowl prediction is Green Bay vs. New England. This would be a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI. I’d like to hear your opinions as well, so please leave a comment here or on Around The Corn’s Facebook page. While you’re thinking of ways to bash my picks, here is my prediction for Super Bowl XLVII.

Super Bowl XLVII

Green Bay Packers (NFC Champions) vs. New England Patriots (AFC Champions)

Winner: Green Bay Packers

– K. Becks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *