AFC Team Questions This Season
August 17, 2013 in NFL
New England Patriots
What week does Tim Tebow take over for Tom Brady? Joking. The question with the Pats usually revolves around the defense but they lost to Baltimore because they couldn't do much on offense for once. Now Wes Welker is gone, Aaron Hernandez is in jail and Gronk is rehabbing from injury. Who is going to step up and help this offense? Could it be injury-prone Danny Amendola or rookie Aaron Dobson? Maybe, the best way to go could be through the run which the Pats improved last year with Ridley and others.
Much will be made about the money owner Stephen Ross spent since last season. I think the defense will go their job adding Dion Jordan to bookend with Pro Bowler Cameron Wake. Ross paid big bucks for Mike Wallace to come south and added former rival Dustin Keller. The question for the Dolphins is going to all about quarterback Ryan Tannehill in year two as the starter. If Tannehill can take the next step this team could be well on its way to challenging New England.
New GM. New Coach. New quarterbacks. So no one really can place expectations on the 2013 Bills. Doug Marrone comes in with NFL experience as a coordinator with the Saints before being the head coach at Syracuse. The real question is did the Bills reach way too high for quarterback EJ Manuel and how quickly can he develop? The Bills haven't won in awhile so maybe one more tough year should be ok with their fan base. Manuel should have the full season to develop under Marrone. The Bills are kind of like the 2012 Dolphins.
The defense should be pretty good, but it might not matter. Because the offense looks to be horrid. Bad enough that the question for Jets is can the offense do enough not to bury the defense? The quarterbacks are big names now in Sanchez and Smith but after that talent is bare. Mangold is a top center but D'Brickashaw Ferguson needs to prove once again he is a top tackle. As for the skill positions most would take Alabama's over what the Jets have. The offense is going to need to do something or it is not going to matter how good Rex's defense is.
The Texans looked the AFC's front runners most of last season but then they slipped and were a non-factor when the playoffs came around. No doubt the team has talent but the biggest question mark is with the most important position, the quarterback. Is Matt Schaub good enough to win the playoffs? As of right now we have to lean no but 2013 is his chance to prove many wrong or him and coach Gary Kubiak could be in trouble.
If you consider the Colts a contender in the division or even for the AFC I think you go into this season wondering if last season was a fluke? They made the playoffs but spent most of the season taking advantage of the NFL's worst teams. So is this team close to getting back to the days of Peyton or is it still building with Andrew Luck behind center? I think it closer to still building even though they made a bunch of additions like Laron Landry, Gosder Cherilus and Greg Toler. I would be excited to be a Colts fan but not yet booking hotel rooms in NYC.
I want to say its can Chris Johnson become a monster running back with the revamped line? Or is Mike Munchak on the hot seat? But once again this is a quarterback driven league and the Titans need to find out if Jake Locker is the future in Nashville. The state of franchise changes big time if Locker can be the man. If he can't, it sets back the Titans a few years at the minimal. Everyone in Nashville should be hitting church every Sunday before going to games.
We can talk Blaine Gabbert but I think it is a losing cause for the Jags. So let’s move onto something else. Since last season Jacksonville has to have more promise than season past even without a solid option behind center. The Jaguars look like they had a great draft but time will tell. Can first year coach Gus Bradley change the momentum of the Jacksonville/London Jaguars? It’s been tough since Tom Coughlin was fired so can Bradley step up.
The Super Bowl champs had a crazy off-season. Ray Lewis went onto be the national spokesman for deer antler spray (or ESPN.) Ed Reed is also gone, so is Matt Birk, Boldin, Pollard, Kruger, Ellerbe and now add Dennis Pitta via injury. Ozzie Newsome did bring in guys like Dumervil and Huff to revamp the defense. But the question lies once again with Joe Flacco even though he proved his critics wrong in the playoffs. Flacco got the money and the Super Bowl MVP but will he cement himself as a top quarterback especially with what looks to be a depleted receiving core.
Will James Harrison severely hurt a HBO Hard Knocks cameraman or producer is my main question? The defense looks to be solid led by Geno Atkins and I feel Dre Kirkpatrick will be a huge factor for the Bengals. Offensively they have weapons and a solid quarterback in Andy Dalton after three solid draft classes. Can they beat the Ravens and the Steelers and get out of the wildcard round? I think the big question is all about Marvin Lewis. Is he the man to lead them to the next step? I don't think it matters because win or lose, he is Mike Brown's guy to the end.
Did Tim Tebow end the Steelers run two seasons ago and is this team still a true contender? The Steelers need to return to the playoffs and being in the AFC North isn't going to make it easy. Good news is that the Steelers should get big lifts on both sides of the ball with rookies Jarvis Jones and Le'Veon Bell. It seems like Pittsburgh makes a Super Bowl appearance every few years so maybe they can make the magic happen with Mike Tomlin and Big Ben once again.
Will the Browns be the first team to have their owner taken out in handcuffs from the owner’s box? For real, just like Tennessee is Cleveland's young or young via experience QB Brandon Weeden be a NFL starter for the next 5-10 years? They did him a huge favor bringing in Norv Turner to work with him and Trent Richardson in the backfield can't hurt. If Weeden can't do it, Coach Chud and the Browns could be scouting Teddy Bridgewater by mid-October.
Is it fair to say Super Bowl or bust with Denver? Yes. No doubt. Coach has been to a Super Bowl, QB has won one although he doesn't have the greatest playoff resume. Any they went out and added to an already top roster. The Broncos had the path to the Super Bowl looking gold last season but faltered so how long will the window be open? It would be best to go for it this season and not worry about the future. Von Miller's suspension wasn't a good start.
San Diego Chargers
I have no clue where to go on this football team. New coach Mike McCoy has no NFL head coaching experience. Is Philip Rivers at a crossroads in his very good career? Norv is finally gone and how will Rivers work with McCoy? The team has already lost two main starters in Alexander and Ingram which will hurt as bad as the knees did. Is this team headed towards the NFL:'s bottom like pre-Marty? And will Mante Teo's girlfriend show up for any games? Only supposed to be one question, I just gave you four. The 2013 Chargers were worth three bonus ones.
Will the Raiders sign Jadeveon Clowney pre-draft or after they select him number one overall? I am getting a little ahead of myself. The Raiders are still reeling from the moves of the late Al Davis and Hard Knocks jokester (or tool) Hue Jackson. The Raiders would have been better off with Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman running the team for those two seasons. Sorry but the Raiders just bring out the jokes. One key for the Raiders eventually resurgence is if Matt Flynn can play well and bury of the curse Raiders QB's of the past since Rich Gannon. It could be a long season as Raiders fans should watch plenty of South Carolina games on Saturdays.