The Big 4 in the AFC this year are the Steelers, Ravens, Jets, and Patriots. These teams are similar in record but very different as far as how they got there.4. The New England Patriots
The Patriots 6 and 2 start has been an impressive start but has also featured many disappointments and distractions. The first distraction was Tom Brady. His contract disputes and hair wars with Justin Bieber brought distractions that were both overcome through time. The contract dispute was settled and the war of the hair is calming down. However, this was not even the biggest distraction of the season. That would be Randy Moss. Questioning the organization after a W, bad mouthing Tom Brady. This lead to him being traded. This move has greatly affected the offense of the New England Patriots. Even though Moss was having a down year he was having a great effect on the offense. With Moss their, the Pats had a dominating deep force that required saftey help. This opened up room in the 10 to 15 yard area for Wes Welker. With Moss gone, Welker's production has decreased dramatically. He is averaging under 9 YPC and as an offense, the Pats recievers average the least YPC's of any team in the NFL. This has led to more focus on the running game. Danny Woodhead and Green Ellis have proven to be valuable to this team. They are averaging just over 4 yards per carry. The Patriots actually run more on first down than they pass. The offense is not as dominant as it has been in recent years. This could be due to the fact that the Offensive Line has sucked this year (compared to previous years). This could have been due to Mankins missing. Now that he is resigned they have no more excuses. IMO, this offense has peaked for the season. We won't suddenly see dramatic increases in PPG. The fact is that other than their QB, they just are not a very good offense. However, the biggest ? coming into the season was the defense. With Seymour gone would they be able to get consistent pressure? Would their young CB's be able to stick with the best of the NFL? The defense has given up 24,28,30,14,20,20,18, and 34. This averages to 21.75 PPG. This means that their average is only 1.75 points better than the Steelers worst game of the season. Man are we lucky. The two losses the Patriots have come by a combined score of 62-28. There wins have come by a margin of 66 points. Their opponents combined record is (27-38). They have played one of the easiest schedules in football to this point playing only 2 teams with winning records. However, their schedule gets tougher in the next few weeks. With matchups vs. Pitt, Ind, NYJ, Chi, and GB this is where we will find out about this team. I don't think they will answer the call and I think they finish the season at 11-5. I would rate them the 4th best team in the AFC for all of the reasons listed above.
The Jets sure as hell no how to build hype. All we heard all off season was it was the Jets year. With the additions of LT, Bluntonio, Cromartie, Taylor, and Wilson they were sure to go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl. Well, week one they showed that they had flaws. Their QB is one of the worst in the NFL and their coaching is below average. Well after a couple good games from Suckchize he is returning to form. He is steadily decreasing instead of increasing. He is the reason this team is not dominating. He can't throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field. Without some really good luck this team is 4 and 4 right now. However that is irrelevant. Like the Pats, I think this team has peaked for the season. What you see is what you get. A horrific offense saved by a great defense. They are averaging about 24PPG which is not horrible but these numbers are inflated due to playing the Pats, Phins, Bills, Vikings, Denver, and Detroit. Their offense has one dimension which is running the football. This will cause problems come playoff time as running against the Steelers and Ravens is impossible. LT is already slowing down and should be injured fairly shortly. The loss of Alan Faneca has been big as the line has been average to above average. Another horrible move this offseason was releasing Thomas Jones. He is dominating in KC. Moving on to the defense. It is as good as advertised giving up 16.25 PPG for 3rd best in the NFL. However, with Suckchize at QB I don't see this team winning the Super Bowl. They have games agains NE, Pitt, and CHi left so there schedule is a joke. Therefore I see 12-4 from this team and a first round bye followed by a loss to NE in the second round.
The Ravens have been a good team this year. Flacco has improved to where he is a top 15 QB and won't cost you many games. However, he also won't win you many games. This team has a plethora of great RB's. Rice is a top 10 back, McClain and Mcgahee both good backs as well. The Oline has been good as well. However, the offense is averaging only 21.875 PPG. With WR finally on this team I thought this would be a great offense. But it is Flacco holding them back. He is good but still needs to get better for this team to have a great offense. Their schedule so far has featured the Steelers, Jets, Patriots. Their remaining schedule features ATL, TB, Pitt, and NO. They have a good defense giving up 16.125PPG which is 2nd best in the NFL. However something is holding this team back. I don't know if it coaching or QB play but something is keeping me off this team. They will do good but won't win the division. I think finishing 12-4 is possible but I think 11-5 is where they end up. This is another team that I feel has peaked for the season already.
Well, well, well. After starting this season predicted to not make the playoffs, here are the Steelers, as always competing and winning. Without Big Ben and facing four of the top half of the NFL to start the season, there season would sure be over before week 5. Plus, they did not have Bluntonio. No problem. Batch and Dixon along with an amazing defense got them to 3 and 1 before the bye. Since the bye we are 3 and 1. We still have not peaked. Unlike the previous 3 teams, our starting QB has only played 4 games this season. He is still working on timing and on accuracy but he is getting better. In 4 weeks I think this offense will hit its stride. The offense is only averaging 21.75 PPG but they are improving. Wallace is good for a TD a game and Mendy is just awesome. The Oline is suffering injury after injury and now both starting tackles are out for the year. However, as always the Steelers will push through and get over it. This is because there coach says expectations don't change no matter who is on the field. This is the story of our year. The only reason we are where we are is because of this amazing defense. They are giving up less than 60 rush YPG. They are giving up 15.375 PPG which is best in the NFL. However, the short passing game is the weak link. I think we will continue to give up these short passes but as the weather gets worse this kind of offense becomes harder. We also don't have Smith again till about Week 15. The biggest reason for improvement is the Special Teams. It has been great this year compared to last. Also, we have played the toughest schedule so far, facing 6 teams with winning records. Our schedule does not get easier. We stil face NE, OAK, BAL, and NYJ to finish off the last half. The scary thing is this team has not peaked yet. We are still getting better. When they hit their stride, this team will be harder to beat than it already is. I think we finish 12 and 4 but with a win over the jets we get home field advantage.
The top three teams in the NFL have the top 3 PPG defenses in the NFL. Funny how in a league where "offense wins championships" the defense is the answer this year.
All of these teams have peaked except the Steelers.
The AFC North > The AFC East
Flacco does not suck like some on here say.
Yet he is not amazing like one on here says.