Pre-NFL Draft AFC team division rankings

by Evan Mazza | Apr 13, 2020 | General | 0 comments

Last time, we looked at the top quarterbacks in each division in the NFC and AFC heading into the NFL Draft in a few weeks. Now, we’re going to look at where the teams rank after free agency before the draft. Starting with the AFC, a conference led by two powerhouses, one of them are the defending Super Bowl champions, and a lot of question marks.

AFC East

  1. Buffalo Bills
  2. New York Jets
  3. New England Patriots
  4. Miami Dolphins
This is now the most perplexing and interesting division to rank due to the absence of Tom Brady. Since Brady took over as the starter for the Patriots in 2001 after quarterback Drew Bledsoe suffered an injury against the Jets, New England won the division 17 out of 19 years under Brady. 2002 and 2008 were the only years New England didn’t win the division during this span as the Jets and Dolphins won them, respectively. Even so, in 2008 Brady missed the year due to a torn ACL in Week 1. Nevertheless, this division is now open for a new champion and the Bills lead the pack so far. The team has a strong defense, led by a solid head coach, and got better on offense by getting Stefon Diggs. The Bills should be the favorites to win their first division title since 1995. The Jets take second, but they’ve seemed to have gotten better on the offensive line, but they still need to find playmakers and a pass rush. If the line protects quarterback Sam Darnold, the Jets could make a legitimate run at this division. New England still has a good defense and Bill Belichick is still the best in the game as the Jarrett Stidham era looks ready to begin. Losing Brady was a massive blow to an already struggling offense in 2019. Despite the Dolphins being aggressive in free agency, questions still surround the team and what they will do at quarterback. The Dolphins were a bit of a surprise in 2019 and Brian Flores did a good job, but spending big in free agency for a team not really at the competing stage was an odd choice and spending big doesn’t mean winning results as we’ve seen so many times.

AFC West

  1. Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Denver Broncos ‘
  3. Las Vegas Raiders
  4. Los Angeles Chargers
The world champion Kansas City Chiefs are the class of the division and AFC, and it might be like that for a while. Most of the 2019 Super Bowl champions are set to return next season and you know Andy Reid will find guys to improve the team come the draft. This division is less about the Chiefs and more about who is the best after them and who can challenge them. Denver might be the closest. They finished 7-9 last year after a strong finish with quarterback Drew Lock, but the team blew some games early in the year on defense after their previous quarterback Joe Flacco led them on go-ahead drives against the Bears and Jaguars. Games that could’ve got them to 2-2 instead of what end up being their 0-4 start. With Lock entering his first full season as the starter, Bradley Chubb returning off a torn ACL, and acquiring A.J. Bouye, the Broncos could be in line to be the team that challenges Kansas City maybe not 2020, but soon. The Raiders are an enigma. They got off to such a good start and were competing for a wild-card spot at 6-4, but then they got embarrassed by the Jets on the road, and they went downhill from there. For the second offseason in a row, the Raiders are mired with questions about whether they like Derek Carr or not and if they’re in the market for one. The defense will be the focal point for Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock again in the draft as they have two first-rounder picks. It’s a big “we’ll see” with the Raiders. The Chargers are in the same boat as the Raiders as an enigma. Their talented, but they underachieve. Now with their longtime franchise quarterback Philip Rivers gone to Indianapolis, the Chargers are in the market for a quarterback. Veteran Tyrod Taylor is penciled in as the starter for now.

AFC South

  1. Tennessee Titans
  2. Houston Texans
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
While the Titans didn’t win the division last year, and haven’t won it since 2008, the Titans are the best in this division and it’s mainly due to what their competition did and less about what they did. Even though the Titans have a real good and well coached team. The biggest question for them is Ryan Tannehill. Can he live up to his contract and prove last year’s resurgence wasn’t a one-time deal? The Texans won the division last year and have the best quarterback in this division. However, what they did has propelled the Titans to the top of this ranking when they traded DeAndre Hopkins. A move that was heavily criticized and the finger has been pointed at head coach Bill O’Brien. Their defense is also suspect, which means this team will be more Watson driven than ever. The Colts fell off in the second half of 2019 and had questions at quarterback after Andrew luck retired. Now, they signed the aforementioned Philip Rivers, but questions remain about his play after a disastrous 2019. The Colts did add defensive end DeForest Buckner in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. The onus really falls on Rivers to bounce back in a big way. If he does, the Colts will be in it. The Jaguars enter yet another rebuilding phase as their 2017 teams is all but decimated. Barring drafting a quarterback, the keys have been officially give to Garnder Minshew at quarterback, but the team is a long ways away from competing again.

AFC North

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens rule the roost in this division after going 14-2 just a year ago with the best offense in the league. Baltimore improved their defense by acquiring Calais Campbell, bringing back Jimmy Smith, and signing Derek Wolfe. With the retirement of Marshal Yanda, the Ravens will have to find a successor to the future Hall of Famer soon. The Ravens are the other powerhouse team in the AFC after the Chiefs, but the division will be a lot tougher to take in 2020. With the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the team finishing 8-8 in 2019, the Steelers are primed to have a bounce back year and get right back as contenders. Pittsburgh has a great defense and is well coached, but the question will be whether father time and injuries will finally catch up to Roethlisberger. The Browns can go either way. They’ve got the talent to win, but it all comes down to coaching and can quarterback Baker Mayfield bounce back from a nightmare season. The defense will also need to be better. The Bengals are rebuilding and, barring a big trade down, are set to take LSU’s Joe Burrow with the first overall pick on draft day. Unless the Bengals shock everybody or the Browns play to their talent, the AFC North is down to the Ravens and Steelers again.
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