After running down three “sleeper” teams in the NFC the other day, it’s time to turn our attention to the AFC, where the champs for the past few seasons run the roost. This year there still is an awful lot of talent in the conference, and it is going to be very tough for a team to sneak into the playoffs without winning at least 10-11 games. Here are three teams though that want to keep your eye on when it comes to the AFC this upcomng 2007 season.
Jacksonville – The Jags took a step back last season after winning 12 games two years ago and gettng beat in the first round of the playoffs in New England. While there plenty of question marks in the QB department with Byron Leftwich and company, this team does have a solid threesome at the RB spot with Maurice Drew-Jones, Fred Taylor and Greg Jones. The defense should be solid once again, and if the QB spot does not falter, the Jags are going to return to form and be a contender in the AFC. The big question now will be can they find a way to somehow overtake the champion Colts. If they can, then they have a solid shot to win the AFC South.
Pittsburgh – Two seasons ago the Steelers were raising the Super Bowl trophy in Detroit. Last year they had to go 6-2 just to finish at .500 and out of the playoffs. This team needed some change, and they got it with a new coach in Mike Tomlin, and with a new look offense the Steelers are looking to return to form. The defense is going to be solid, and if they can get Ben Roethlisberger back to the form of 2005, and Willie Parker has another solid season, I would not doubt that the AFC North is going to be a dogfight with the Ravens, Bengals and Steelers. Tomlin is going to end up being a very good fit in Steel Town.
Buffalo – Part of me thinks this team is still 1-2 years away, but when I see their three headed-monster on offense of J.P. Losman, Lee Evans and rookie Marshawn Lynch, I think this team might just have enough to push past the .500 mark this season. Losman came of age a season ago, and Evans showed why he is one of the up and coming wide outs in the league. The question will be can their O-line step it up in the running game so Lynch can lead the way, and will the defense under Dick Jauron keep improving. Their schedule does them no favors, as they start at home with Denver, then go to Pittsburgh, to New England and then host the Jets and Cowboys back to back.