Here are my evaluations and predictions on who will finish where in the AFC.
AFC EAST This really comes down to two teams, and whether the Jets D can hold up.
1. New England Patriots- they have played pathetic the first two weeks and are lucky to be 1-1, but the fact is they played as bad as possibly could have and still were in position to win late. If you lose a game by less than a touchdown and you couldn't have played much worse; you know your still on a legit Superbowl contender. It will take a lot more than 2 weeks of bad play to count out Brady and the Pats.
2. New York Jets- have out scored opponents 40 -16 and the defense looks as good as any in the NFL. Sanchez looks as if he will be a super star one day, although that day is not today and won't be this year but they may not need him to be. With possibly the best O-line and Thomas Jones who was supposed to lose a few steps the past couple years; but through the first two weeks he looks as good as ever and even if he does lose a step this year they have a plethora of running backs behind him that can fill in just fine as long as that o-line continues to dominate. The Jets will be able to compete for the division as long as the D holds strong and the O-line stays healthy.
3. Miami Dolphins- Their 2 minute offense will be their down fall. This team is good enough to compete every game, but they will never blow teams out and when they need to score late in 4th quarter they won't be able to do so. There good enough to compete but until they prove they can run an effective two minute offense they won't compete for the division.
4. Buffalo Bills - This team is a ticking time bomb. T.O. has lost a step in his game and lost any kind of filter he use to have when it came to talking about teammates. He has a below average throwing to him and a receiver thats better than him on the opposite side in Lee Evans. Evans should get more balls thrown his way but it'll be interesting to see how T.O reacts when that happens. He may not like it very much but he's playing for a contract next year, and keeping his mouth shut off the field may make him more money next year than his play on the field.
AFC North- For the first time in years this division could be won with offense. The defenses will still play a huge role in determining the winner but I wouldn't be surprised if the Pit-Baltimore games turn into high scoring aerial assaults.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers- They should be sitting at 2-0 but when you play the style they do and miss 2 field goals, they will often end up losing. The offense has yet to get the running game going, but I'll be shocked if they don't get it back on track with in the next couple weeks and in the mean time they can keep putting the ball in big Ben's hands because he is a proven winner. It may not be pretty but when the clock hits all zero's more times than not Pit will be ahead, as long as the holds strong and Big Ben doesn't kill himself from all the pump fakes and hits he takes.
2. Baltimore - It's been a while since they have been able to win in a shoot out against a top offense but thats what they did against San Diego. Flacco looks like a veteran and could be a top 10 QB before this year is done, but this team also has the ability to pound the rock which makes them a very scary opponent. The defense has given up a few points but when the game is on the line they'll make the plays necessary. (My pick as of right now to represent AFC in the SuperBowl)
3. Cincinnati Bengals- They have the making of a team that will surprise you every week. They will go up against some team which are supposed to blow them out and will come away with wins, and they'll go against some teams that they should beat and they'll lose. Their offense looks improved with Carson Palmer healthy, Cedric Benson finally looks like a serviceable starting running back and the defense although young looks to be on the rise.
4. Cleveland -There a perennial cellar dweller and this year won't be an exception. Their young and have a head coach that failed in New York and doesn't seem to be doing that great here. By the end of this year if nothing else we will be able to see if Brady Quinn is the future for this team.
AFC South- Could be the most competitive division top to bottom
1. Indianapolis Colts - There defense as always has looked suspect, they have lost half of their starting receivers from last year due to free agency and injury. But when you have Peyton Manning at QB throwing to Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark you have to like their chances of taking this division. The D is a little banged up but Freeney and Mathis are as good as any at putting pressure and creating big plays which should be enough to win this division.
2. Tennessee Titans- This team cannot afford to give up 34 points a game, their offense is not designed and they do not have the QB or receivers to make the big plays necessary to compete in games like that all year. I do not expect the D to give up that many point that often, but they will need to figure out how to stop late game drives in close games since as there will probably be a lot of them this year.
3. Houston Texans- There passing offense showed up this past week but if they can not run the ball effectively this year and if there d does not improve, fans will be talking about next year fairly soon. They have the talent on offense to keep them in games but if they want to win the divsion their D will have to come up with some big plays and needs to stop the mental lapses.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - This team is tough to figure out. They have a solid showing against Indi on the road and go home and get blown out by the Cardinals. David Garrad could be the most underrated QB in the league, he isn't flashy but he is effcient, which is what the Jags needs him to be. They have one of the best backs in Jones-Drew and a solid defense as always but when it comes down to it I don't see them having the horses to take it.
AFC West As expected the worst division in football
1. San Diego Chargers- They could be the most under achieving team in the NFL. They have so much talent and so many weapons on offense with River Gates, Sproles, Vincent Jackson (who could be the most improved reciever this year), and when healthy L.T. still has some in the tank, but every week they play to the level of their opponents. If the D would step it up and make some stops and the offense plays to their ability they could be a superbowl contender but those are two big IF's for the Chargers.
2. Denver Broncos - I'll admit coming into the season I thought they were going to be crap but say what you want Kyle Orton wins. He doesn't win pretty and he isn't the next John Elway but he will keep them competitive in this division. The D is nothing to brag about but they will be good enough for second in this stacked division.
3. Oakland Raiders- Their young but improved. Their D has two pro bowlers who make the jobs everyone around them much easier. Richard Seymour has the ability to play all four d-line spots and fights through double teams as well as anyone in the league. Asmougha is a lock down corner and makes it possible for oakland to stack the box with 9 guys and still be fine in pass coverage. The offense is loaded with talent, Russell has the ability to be an NFL QB but he is still making rookie mistakes and missing wide open receivers, but the o-line and running game look solid and provide something for the Raiders to fall back on.
4. Kansas City Cheifs - With the addition of Castle their offense seems to be on the rise, but they still have holes in the o-line, and on D. The worst thing about the Chiefs is that by the time they fix the o-line they will need to find a new running back as Larry Johnson is extremely old for his age. They are on the rise with Oakland but still years before they can talk about the playoffs.