It’s hard to recall a conference in football in recent memory as deep as the AFC is heading into the 2022 season.
Of the 16 teams in the conference, only three would be considered truly non-playoff contenders. The Jets, Jaguars, and Texans are in the early stages of rebuilding. The other 13 teams can look to battling for a playoff spot and potential playoff run.
In this column, I will zero in on two AFC teams’ win totals.
First, the Las Vegas Raiders, who qualified for the playoffs last year at 10-7 before losing to the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round. Hopes are high in the desert with new Head Coach Josh McDaniels. The Raiders also traded for perhaps the best wide receiver in football in Davante Adams and signed elite pass rusher Chandler Jones. Most expect the Raiders to contend for the AFC West title this season.
But, I’m not most people. The Raiders last season were actually outscored by 65 points. They also went 4-0 in overtime games. Logically, the 2021 Raiders came this close to going 5-12 as compared their actual 10-7 record.
Oftentimes, a team that won so many flip-of-coin games in one season has a tendency of losing those similar games the next season. Factor in that the Raiders play in the toughest division in football with both the Broncos and Chargers improving in the off-season, I believe the Raiders will win less than 8.5 games this season and finish in last place in the AFC West.
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The weakest division in the AFC is the South where both the Jaguars and Texans are in a rebuilding mode. The defending Division Champion Tennessee Titans were 6-1 last season in games decided by 3 or fewer points. A trend that often reverses the following season.
The other team in the division, the Indianapolis Colts, has the best roster in the division and will get improved play at quarterback with newly acquired veteran Matt Ryan replacing the streaky Carson Wentz, who was traded to Washington in the off-season.
The Colts have an incredibly fast defense, a powerful running game with Jonathan Taylor running behind one of the best and most physical offensive lines in football. If Ryan plays solidly at quarterback, I foresee the Colts winning the division and winning more than 9.5 games this season.
Under 8.5 Raiders and over 9.5 Colts are today’s picks.
John Sapochetti is co-host of the Pick & Roll NBA Podcast with JET & SAP, which is heard here on Full Press Coverage. Follow him on Twitter @JohnSap25
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