The AFC is loaded!

For the last couple of seasons, the NFC was known to have more talented teams compared to the AFC. However, starting in the 2020 season, the AFC has gotten much better and is the most competitive conferences in football. Before the NFL draft, I will break down every AFC team and describe their potential for the upcoming season!

AFC East

Buffalo Bills – 11-6 (2021), Big offseason additions: Von Miller, OJ Howard, Jamison Crowder

The Buffalo Bills are angry going into the 2022 NFL season after their devastating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. They have made some good free agency decisions to do so. After waiving Cole Beasley, the Titans got a receiver for less money, Jamison Crowder, who they signed to a 1 year, $4 million dollar deal. Crowder will fit well alongside Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Mckenzie. They also signed OJ Howard to a 1 year, $3.5 million dollar contract, to create one of the best tight end duos in the NFL with Howard and Dawson Knox. The Bills also made an improvement on defense, signing a 2x Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Famer, Von Miller, to a 6 year, $120 million dollar deal. Stealing Miller from the defending champion Rams is important to improve the linebacker core and run defense. The Bills are already, ready, for the 2022 season!

Miami Dolphins – 9-8 (2021), Big offseason additions: Tyreek Hill, Raheem Mostert, Terron Armstead, etc.

The Miami Dolphins have made a lot of moves to improve their team. Obviously trading for Tyreek Hill gives the Dolphins a true #1 receiver and moves Jaylen Waddle to be a great #2. Miami signed Raheem Mostert to a 1 year, $3.125 million dollar contract. This gives Miami a really good starting running back when healthy. The Dolphins also signed Chase Edmunds to a 2 year, $12.1 million dollar deal, getting an amazing backup running back. They also improved the offensive line dramatically, signing 3x Pro Bowler Terron Armstead to a 5 year, $87.5 million dollar deal. This helps Tua Tagovailoa and the running game develop faster. They also made smaller signings like Cedric Wilson Jr. and Alec Ingold. The Dolphins have a very good chance of making the playoffs in 2022 after the huge improvements they’ve made in the trade market and in free agency!

New England Patriots – 10-7 (2021), Big offseason additions: Malcolm Butler

The Patriots have not put themselves in a good spot in 2022. As other AFC playoff caliber teams are making big improvements, the Patriots are brining players out of retirement. The Patriots signed Malcolm Butler to a 2 year, $9 million dollar contract. Butler is coming out of retirement to rejoin his former quad in New England. However, I don’t expect him to get the most important interception in NFL history this season. However, the Patriots cut Kyle Van Noy and traded Chase Winovich. New England had good talent like a lot of other AFC playoff caliber teams but they improved the least out of them.

New York Jets – 4-13 (2021), Big offseason additions: CJ Uzomah, Greg Zuerlein

This wasn’t a busy free agency and trade season for the Jets. They had a lot of pressure this offseason to sign 1 year deals and see if Zach Wilson can be a future quarterback the Jets need. Obviously getting a good receiving option for him helps. Despite losing Jamison Crowder, they signed Uzomah to a 3 year, $24 million dollar deal. He is such a good receiving tight end that he can fit with any QB so signing him to a 3 year deal worth about $8 million per year makes sense. While it’s not an exciting move, the Jets have gained a decent kicker, signing Greg Zuerlein to a 1 year, $2.75 million dollar deal. However, this season for the Jets is about continuing the rebuilding process and developing Zach Wilson.


AFC North


Baltimore Ravens – 8-9 (2021), Big offseason additions: Marcus Williams , Michael Pierce, Morgan Moses

The Baltimore Ravens may have dealt with some serious injuries in 2021, however, a healthy Ravens team is one of the most dangerous teams in the National Football League! Safety, Marcus Williams joined the Ravens on a 5 year, $70 million dollar deal to improve the secondary that just lost Deshon Elliott to Detroit. Offensive tackle, Morgan Moses signed a 3 year, $15 million dollar deal with the Ravens which helps an offensive line that lost Orlando Brown Jr. last offseason and has dealt with injuries for offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley over the last 2 seasons. Defensive tackle, Michael Pierce signed a 3 year, $16.5 million dollar deal with Baltimore, to rejoin the squad and improve what was the best run defense in the NFL. These additions, along with an MVP caliber QB Lamar Jackson, improved receivers, the best running offense when healthy and 2 former All-Pro cornerbacks makes the Ravens a top Super Bowl contender in 2022!

Cincinnati Bengals – 10-7, Super Bowl loss (2021), Big offseason additions: Hayden Hurst, Alex Cappa

The Cincinnati Bengals have only gotten better since their cinderella run team that made it all the way to the Super Bowl! Tight end, Hayden Hurst signed a 1 year, 3.5 million dollar contract with the Bengals. Hurst, a 28 year old that has spent 2 years each with the Ravens and Falcons and is a very good receiving option at TE to replace CJ Uzomah. Hurst is also a very good blocker, which opens up opportunities for Joe Mixon and the running game. Offensive guard, Alex Cappa signed a 4 year, 40 million dollar deal with Cincinnati and he’s worth every penny. The Bengals biggest weakness last season was their offensive line, as Aaron Donald rushing Joe Burrow ended their season. However, adding an offensive lineman as skilled as Cappa will improve their offensive line dramatically. Along with Joe Burrow, a talented defense and amazing receivers, Hurst and Cappa will fit in well and try to get Cincinnati over the hump in 2022!

Cleveland Browns – 8-9 (2021), Big offseason additions: Deshaun Watson, Amari Cooper

The Cleveland Browns needed to make big moves after winning just 8 games last season. Well, they did that! The Browns traded for Amari Cooper early in the offseason, giving away a 5th and 6th round pick for this year’s upcoming draft to do so. Cooper is a big addition for the Browns, who released Jarvis Landry earlier in the offseason. Most importantly, the Browns got their QB. After Watson was called innocent of his sexual assault, the Browns gave up a 2022 1st round pick, 2023 1st round pick, 2023 3rd round pick, 2024 1st round pick and a 2024 4th round pick for Watson and a 2024 4th round pick. The Browns also changed his contract, signing him to a 5 year, $230 million dollar deal. Now that the Browns passing game is improved, expect Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to have great seasons. The next issue for the Browns is trading Baker Mayfield, who thinks he was “disrespected” by the Browns. However, there is no reason for the Browns to have him after they signed Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs and traded for Case Keenum. The Browns offense is looking good but now they need to trade Mayfield for more important assets.

Pittsburgh Steelers – 9-7-1 (2021), Big offseason additions: Mitchell Trubisky, Myles Jack

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a big pivot year in their 1st season without all time great quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They also need to adjust at WR, as JuJu Smith-Schuster left Pittsburgh to play with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. There were and still are big question marks for who is going to be their starting QB. Dwayne Haskins was in the mix before his tragic death. Unless Pittsburgh takes a QB like Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett in the draft, expect Mitchell Trubisky, who signed a 2 year, $14 million dollar deal (that can be worth up to $27 million) earlier this offseason to be the starter. While Trubisky spent last season as a backup and the year before as a low quality starter, he is still a former Pro Bowler who is only 27 years old. Even if things aren’t looking amazing at QB, they are at LB. The Steelers signed Myles Jack to a 2 year, $16 million dollar deal. While Jack has never made a Pro Bowl, he is a very talented pass rusher and run stopper, which only adds on to DPOY, TJ Watt and 5x Pro Bowler Cameron Heyward. The Steelers offense needs to improve, but their defense can’t get much better!


AFC South


Houston Texans – 4-13 (2021), Big offseason additions: Blake Cashman, Andy Janovich

Until the NFL draft, there is not many exciting things going for Texans football. The Deshaun Watson trade was huge for Houston since the draft picks easily accelerates the rebuilding process. Unless Davis Mills is the move, Houston still needs to find a quarterback and gain an offensive line. Those draft picks, including 3 additional 1st round picks over the next 3 years could improve those categories. The Texans have made small additions this free agency, trading for Blake Cashman from the Giants and only giving up a future 6th round pick to do so. The Texans also signed Andy Janovich to a 1 year, $3 million dollar deal. This helps the Texans develop Rex Burkhead, as he will now spend more time at running back. However, the Texans should be on to the NFL draft, looking to improve with the picks they have.

Indianapolis Colts – 9-8 (2021), Big offseason additions: Matt Ryan, Stephon Gilmore

The Colts have had a busy offseason, improving on important categories. After 1 pretty good season for Carson Wentz in Indi, the Colts traded him to Washington, getting some 2nd-3rd round draft picks in 2022 and 2023 in exchange. The Colts then got their new quarterback, Matt Ryan, in exchange for only a 2023 3rd round pick. Even though Indianapolis has to pay Mat Ryan’s heavy contract, I think it’s okay for the Colts to have him as their QB for now. The Colts also improved their defense, signing Stephon Gilmore to a 2 year, $23 million dollar deal. This adds on to an already very good secondary. Indianapolis has made a lot of offseason moves and are a playoff contender once again.

Jacksonville Jaguars – 3-14 (2021), Big offseason additions: Darious Williams, Evan Engram, Christian Kirk

The Jaguars are in a similar boat as the Texans, a rebuilding team. However—unlike Houston— Jacksonville knows their quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars have also made some good free agency signings. They signed Darious Williams to a 3 year, $30 million dollar contract. Williams was a very good corner for the Super Bowl champions last season and in his 3 years could rebuild a secondary that has fallen apart ever since trading Jalen Ramsey. They also signed TE Evan Engram to a 1 year, $9 million dollar deal, worth up to $10 million. Engram is another talented, fast tight end that can develop Trevor Lawrence’ passing game. Lawrence will also develop because of their new wide receiver, Christian Kirk, who signed a 4 year, $72 million dollar contract. He can develop with other Jaguars receivers like Leviska Shenault Jr. and Jammal Agnew. With the draft ahead, the Jaguars have already made great moves to decrease the time of this rebuild.

Tennessee Titans – 12-5 (2021), Big offseason additions: Austin Hooper

The Titans haven’t done much to improve their team so far this offseason. Signing Austin Hooper to a 1 year, $6 million dollar contract is a good move after losing Jonu Smith last offseason but that’s pretty much it. After an underperforming season by Julio Jones due to injury, the Titans waived him for cap space purposes. This makes WR a big need for the Titans going into this year’s draft. They also need to improve their secondary, another need in this year’s draft. I think the Hooper signing was important but Tennessee has to do more in the draft, free agency or trade market for me to pick them as a Super Bowl contender!


AFC West


Denver Broncos – 7-10 (2021), Big offseason additions: Russell Wilson, Randy Gregory

The Denver Broncos are a very confusing team to me. After starting off 3-0 last season, they finished the season 7-10. However, there were some promising signs. TE Noah Fant had an amazing season was looked at to be a very valuable asset in the trade market. Well, he was. In the craziest deal of the offseason so far, Russell Wilson and a 2022 4th round pick was traded to the Denver Broncos in exchange for Drew Lock, Shelby Harris, Noah fant, a 2022 1st, 2nd and 5th round pick and 2022 1st and 2nd round picks. Breaking down the trade is a whole other story. However, for the first time in a decent amount of time, the Broncos know who their clear cut starting quarterback is going into the season. And he’s a good one! The future Hall of Famer has not slowed down in his passing ability. Losing Fant is a bad loss but Denver still has Jerry Judy, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton. The Broncos signed Randy Gregory to a 5 year, $70 million dollar contract not too long ago. This is a very important move for Denver who lost Von Miller and Harris over the last 6 months. The Broncos QB worries are over, but they still have a lot of improving to do before becoming contenders!

Kansas City Chiefs – 12-5, ACG Loss (2021), Big offseason additions: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ronald Jones

Despite trading Tyreek Hill to Miami, the Chiefs are still a true contender in 2022. In that Hill trade, the Chiefs gained 2022 1st round pick, 2022 2nd round pick and 2022 fourth round pick, along with sixth round picks in 2023. Those drafts picks in 2022 will help Kansas City improve some of their larger weaknesses including run offense and defense and cornerback depth. They have also made some big free agency moves to improve back at receiver and at some of those needs above. The Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Shuster to a 1 year, $3.25 million dollar contract earlier this offseason, which gives Patrick Mahomes a decent wide receiver to throw to. They also signed wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to a 3 year, $30 million dollar deal which gives Mahomes a #2 or 3 wide receiver option. The Chiefs also signing running back Ronald Jones to a 1 year, $1.5 million dollar deal worth up to $3.5 million is a big move for Kansas City. This improves their running game, especially when Clyde Edwards-Helaire gets injured which has been frequent over the last 2 seasons. With the NFL draft still to come, Chiefs fans should not be worried about their football club in 2022!

Las Vegas Raiders – 10-7 (2021), Big offseason additions: Davante Adams, Chandler Jones

The Raiders are going to the playoffs! Davante Adams signing with the Raiders is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to their franchise. Adams’ contract is for 5 years and is worth $141.25 million dollars! But he’s worth every dime. Derek Carr just signed a 3 year, $121.5 contract extension and with Adams as his top receiver, they are going to do great things in the future. I also think the Adams signing helps players like Hunter Renfrow who are going to continue to develop. The Raiders also signed Chandler Jones to a 3 year, $52.5 million dollar deal. Jones is such a talented linebacker and he improves the defense dramatically. Smaller additions like Anthony Averett, Darius Philips and Brandon Bolden makes the Raiders not just any other AFC team!

Los Angeles Chargers – 9-8 (2021), Big offseason additions: Khalil Mack, JC Jackson

The Chargers have made great improvements on defense this offseason. The Chargers traded for Khalil Mack earlier this offseason, giving up a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2023 6th round pick to do so. The 31 year old is still in the prime of his career, as he had made 6 straight Pro Bowls before only playing 7 games in 2021 due to injury. The Chargers also made a big move, signing a former Patriots cornerback, JC Jackson, to a 5 year, $82.5 million dollar deal. Jackson has been a beast in New England, as he made his 1st Pro Bowl appearance in 2022. The Chargers defense is not just Joey Bosa anymore, it’s an entire empire down in Hollywood!

I think out of these 16 teams, only 3 of them are out of playoff contention, Jaguars, Jets and Texans who are in a rebuilding process. However, if I had to predict the seeding, before the NFL draft, for the upcoming season, this is what I would have:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Buffalo Bills
  3. Baltimore Ravens
  4. Tennessee Titans
  5. Cincinnati Bengals
  6. Los Angeles Chargers
  7. Miami Dolphins
  8. Las Vegas Raiders 
  9. Indianapolis Colts
  10. Cleveland Browns
  11. Denver Broncos 
  12. Pittsburgh Steelers 
  13. New England Patriots 
  14. Jacksonville Jaguars
  15. Houston Texans
  16. New York Jets 

The crazy thing is, I think the top 11 teams in the AFC could actually be a true tough playoff team to beat. But only 7 can make the playoffs. That makes it crazy. A team with Devante Adams and a good defense now led by Chandler Jones is not going to make the playoffs in my opinion! That makes the AFC so crazy. I personally believe the AFC is the most tough and competitive conference in football. I think what I said about all 16 teams free agency and trade moves describe how good they can be this season. However, with the NFL draft still to come, my playoff list above can change, and make the AFC an even tougher conference!


Chase Coburn

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