The Steelers won nine straight before running head first into the eventual champion, New England Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger had an effect year, throwing for over 3,800 yards and 20 touchdowns to just five interceptions. Should Le’Veon Bell suit up for Pittsburgh this year, they have a real shot at repeating as AFC North champs.
Baltimore’s inability to win on the road was a detriment to their success in 2016. In order to compete for the AFC North crown, they’re going to need to win close games and close out on the road. I’m not so sure that signing Jeremy Maclin is enough.
The Bengals look to claw their way back to the playoffs after a disappointing 2016 season where they struggled to protect their home field and were even worse on the road. Andy Dalton now has another target to throw to after Cincinnati drafted Washington WR John Ross with the ninth overall pick.
Cleveland made a splash in the 2017 draft with three picks in the first round alone. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett became the 1st overall selection. The Browns also improved the defensive corps with Michigan S Jabrill Peppers while Miami TW David Njoku gives whoever is at QB to throw to on offense.
Despite missing the first four games of the 2016 season due to his Deflategate-related suspension. Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a NFL-best 14-2 regular season record and his fifth Super Bowl victory. Don’t be surprised to see him compete for his sixth in February.
Just kidding, he won’t.
The Miami Dolphins started their 2016 a solid 9-1 on the back of an efficient rushing game that didn’t always translate into points. Is 2017 the year that Ryan Tannehill lives up this his massive contract?
No, he’s out for the season. Now the Dolphins have to rely on Jay Cutler…
The Buffalo Bills had a busy offseason. Tyrod Taylor remains a Bill and will get another opportunity to try and lead his team to the playoffs. That’s if he overcomes his current concussion as he’s expected to miss week one. Taylor had two solid back to back seasons with the Bills and will look to build on that momentum in 2017.
The New York Jets front office seems to be abandoning ship. They voided QB Ryan Fitzgerald’s contract, released WR Brandon Marshall, CB Darrelle Revis, and C Nick Mangold. Simply put, they have not taken one step forward in improving this franchise. It’s difficult to envision them improving on their 5-11 record from last season.
Houston suffered a significant loss when JJ Watt went down for the season. Fortunately for them, they still made the playoffs and Watt is back! The Texans were a solid 7-1 at home in 2016. Former Clemson star QB Deshaun Watson joins the team and hopes to add the dynamic element their offense has been missing. They will need it with the retirement of WR Andre Johnson.
Marcus Mariotta improved significantly from his rookie season to last year. In his third season, the Tennessee Titans can count on him to really show what he can do. The Titans drafted WR Corey Davis from WMU to help him do just that.
Indianapolis needs to work on their defense if they want to compete in the NFL. Their top 10 offense and Andrew Luck’s stellar year was drowned out by their 30th ranked defense. Have they done enough to improve?
For the Jaguars to climb out of the AFC South basement theur need to become efficient on the offensive side of the ball. Jacksonville had the 6th ranked defense and the 23rd ranked offense. A team cannot succeed with that sort of imbalance. The addition of LSU’s Leonard Fournette is certainly a step in the right direction.
Alex Smith knows his days are numbered in Kansas City. That was never more clear when the Chiefs drafted former Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick. Yes, Andy Reid is claiming Smith is his guy, but he also claimed Kevin Kolb was his guy in Philly. Who eventually was overstepped by Mike Vick. However, don’t be surprised to see Smith’s best stuff this season, but if not, expect the short chain to be yanked.
Oakland has a lot of upside going into the 2017 season. Derek Carr is healthy and can focus entirely on football now that he doesn’t have to worry about his contract. The Raiders retained DE Khalil Mack and improved their defense through free agency and the draft. This is the team to beat in the AFC West.
QB Trevor Siemian and the Broncos were in the AFC West driver’s seat until they lost four of their last five and finished third. Immediately following the regular season, Denver made numerous personnel changes. Did they do enough to correct their late season mishaps?
Two Chargers are taking their talents to L.A.! It was a quiet offseason for the Chargers outside of their venue change. Former Clemson WR Mike Williams gives Philip Rivers a big, physical receiver who can be difficult to contain in the red zone.
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