NFL Odds

NFL Preview 2014 - AFC

By Ian Palmer

The NFL’s 95th season kicks off Thursday, September 4 and runs until December 28, 2015. The postseason begins January 3 with Super Bowl XLIX taking place Sunday, February 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Glendale, Arizona. This season’s Pro Bowl game will be contested in the same stadium on January 25.  Let’s take a look at the AFC in our NFL preview for the 2014 season.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

  • Last Season: 8-8, Tied for Second in AFC North
  • Head Coach: John Harbaugh
  • Newcomers: WR Steve Smith, OL Jeremy Zuttah, TE Owen Daniels, rookie MLB C.J. Mosley, rookie DT Timmy Jernigan, and rookie S Terrence Brooks
  • Left Town: RT Michael Oher, S James Ihedigbo, CB Corey Graham, DE Arthur Jones, TE Ed Dickson, and NT Terrance Cody

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Last Season: 11-5: First place AFC North; Lost in AFC Wild Card
  • Head Coach: Marvin Lewis
  • Newcomers: rookie CB Darqueze Dennard, rookie RB Jeremy Hill, QB Jason Campbell, and DB Danieal Manning
  • Left Town: DE Michael Johnson, OT Anthony Collins, C Kyle Cook, and WR Andrew Hawkins

Cleveland Browns

  • Last Season: 4-12, Fourth in AFC North
  • Head Coach: Mike Pettine
  • Newcomers: Donte Whitner, Karlos Dansby, Ben Tate, Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins, and Terrance West
  • Left Town: LB D’Qwell Jackson, DB T.J. Ward, WR Greg Little, and QB Brandon Weeden

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Last Season: 8-8; Tied for Second in AFC North, Missed Playoffs
  • Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
  • Newcomers: Rookie RB Dri Archer, RB LeGarrette Blount, rookie WR Martavis Bryant, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, CB Brice McCain, S Mike Mitchell, LB Arthur Moats, WR Lance Moore, P Adam Podlesh, rookie LB Ryan Shazier, DT Cam Thomas, rookie DE Stephon Tuitt, and P Brad Wing
  • Left Town: S Ryan Clark, WR Jerrico Cotchery, RB Jonathan Dwyer, LB Larry Foote, DE Ziggy Hood, RB Felix Jones, DE Brett Keisel, P Mat McBriar, WR Emmanuel Sanders, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, OL Fernando Velasco, LB LaMarr Woodley, and NT Al Woods

Top Two
The Baltimore Ravens have Joe Flacco at quarterback and Ray Rice at running back and they should both be motivated to have good seasons in 2014. The team’s defensive unit has more or less been rebuilt and all of this should result in the Ravens taking first place in the AFC North. Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers are still disappointed at missing the playoffs last year on the final day of the regular season and will be out to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2014. The squad has a mix of experience and youth and it will be up to the experienced veterans to pull them through to the postseason and a second-place finish in the division.

Bottom Two
The Cincinnati Bengals recently rewarded quarterback Andy Dalton with a huge new contract extension after a rather mediocre season in 2013. Joe Flacco of the Ravens struggled after signing a multi-million dollar deal and the Bengals are hoping Dalton doesn’t react the same way. Cincinnati won the AFC North last campaign, but could drop all the way to third this year. The Cleveland Browns have added some good players to their squad, but it will take them some time to gel and this means they’re likely to finish 2014 in the basement of the division.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

  • Last Season: 6-10, Fourth in AFC East
  • Head Coach: Doug Marrone
  • Left Town: S Jairus Byrd, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
  • Newcomers: Rookie WR Sammy Watkins, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Keith Rivers, CB Corey Graham, rookie OL Cyrus Kouandjio, and rookie OL Cyril Richardson

Miami Dolphins

  • Last Season: Third in AFC East
  • Head Coach: Joe Philbin
  • Newcomers: OL Brandon Albert, DB Louis Delmas, DB Cortland Finnegan, rookie OL Ja’Wuan James, RB Knowshon Moreno, and OL Shelley Smith
  • Left Town: DB Chris Clemons, OL Richie Incognito, OL Jonathan Martin, and DL Paul Soliai

New England Patriots

  • Last Season: 12-4, Fitst in AFC East, lost AFC Championship Game
  • Head coach: Bill Belichick
  • Newcomers: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Brandon Browner, rookie DL Dominique Easley, S Patrick Chung, WR Brandon LaFell, DE Will Smith, and LB James Anderson
  • Left Town: RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Aqib Talib, LB, Brandon Spikes, LB Dane Fletcher, and TE Matthew Mulligan

New York Jets

  • Last Season: 8-8, Tied for second in AFC East, Missed Playoffs
  • Head Coach: Rex Ryan
  • Newcomers: rookie TE Jace Amaro, WR Eric Decker, rookie WR Shaq Evans, OT Breno Giacomini, RB Chris Johnson, CB Dimitri Patterson, rookie S Calvin Pryor, rookie WR Jalen Saunders, and QB Michael Vick
  • Left Town: CB Antonio Cromartie, WR Santonio Holmes, OT Austin Howard, S Ed Reed, QB Mark Sanchez, and TE Kellen Winslow

Top Two
The New England Patriots will be the favorites to take the AFC East again this season with quarterback Tom Brady leading the team’s offense. Only two of the division’s teams are likely to reach the postseason, which will be the Patriots and New York Jets. The Jets will probably go with Geno Smith as their starting quarterback this fall. Smith will be entering his second year in the league and should strengthen New York’s offense, but they also have Michael Vick, who left the Philadelphia Eagles to join the Jets. New York has a solid defense already and if they play to their potential should be able to fight for a playoff spot.

Bottom Two
The Miami Dolphins couldn’t depend on their offensive line last year and this cost them dearly near the end of the season. They have a good young quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, but are still a bit too inconsistent to make the postseason in 2014. As for the Buffalo Bills. The club is up for sale after the death of owner Ralph Wilson and they’ll probably bring up the rear in the division due to their inexperience. However, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of receiver Sammy Watkins and quarterback EJ Manuel.

AFC South

Houston Texans

  • Last Season: 2-14, Fourth in AFC South
  • Head Coach: Bill O’Brien
  • Newcomers: Rookie LB Jadeveon Clowney, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, S Kendrick Lewis, DT Jerrell Powe, and rookie NT Louis Nix III
  • Left Town: QB Matt Schaub, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ben Tate, DT Earl Mitchell, DE Antonio Smith, S Danieal Manning, CB Brice McCain, LB Darryl Sharpton, LB Joe Mays, and QB T.J. Yates

Indianapolis Colts

  • Last Season: 11-5, First in AFC South, Lost AFC Divisional Round
  • Head Coach: Chuck Pagano
  • Newcomers: DL Arthur Jones, WR Hakeem Nicks, and LB D’Qwell Jackson
  • Left Town: RB Donald Brown, FS Antoine Bethea, OT Jeff Linkenbach, LB Kavell Conner, G Mike McGlynn, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, and CB Cassius Vaughn

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Last Season: 4-12, Third in AFC South
  • Head Coach: Gus Bradley
  • Newcomers: Rookie QB Blake Bortles, RB Toby Gerhart, G Zane Beadles, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, DT Ziggy Hood, and LB Dekoda Watson
  • Left Town: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, QB Blaine Gabbert, C Brad Meester, DE Jason Babin, and LB Russell Allen

Tennessee Titans

  • Last Season: 7-9, Second in AFC South
  • Head Coach: Ken Whisenhunt
  • Newcomers: LB Wesley Woodyard, OT Michael Oher, LB Shaun Phillips, RB/PR Dexter McCluster, RB Bishop Sankey, and OT Taylor Lewan
  • Left Town: RB Chris Johnson, CB Alterraun Verner, OT David Stewart, PK Rob Bironas, and WR Kenny Britt

Top Two
The AFC South should be a two-team race between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts. However, when all is said and done we should see the Colts capture the division title. The main reason for this will be Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck who is a little bit better than Texan’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick at this moment in time. Houston has an excellent defensive team and Fitzpatrick should be able to lead them to a second-place finish in the AFC South and a playoff spot.

Bottom Two
Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are in the middle of a rebuild yet again. They don’t really have any high-impact offensive or defensive players and will pay for it this season. Tennessee looks stronger at quarterback though with Jake Locker and for that reason they should take third place in the division with Jacksonville looking up from the bottom.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

  • Last Season: 13-3, First in AFC West, Lost Super Bowl 43-8 to Seattle
  • Head Coach: John Fox
  • Newcomers: DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib, WR Emmanuel Sanders, and rookie WR Cody Latimer
  • Left Town: RB Knowshon Moreno, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and WR Eric Decker

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Last Season: 11-5, Second place in AFC West, Lost AFC Wild-Card
  • Head Coach: Andy Reid
  • Newcomers: WR Weston Dressler, rookie OLB Dee Ford, OL Jeff Linkenbach, ILB Joe Mays, CB Chris Owens, rookie RB De’Anthony Thomas, and DL Vance Walker
  • Left Town: OT Branden Albert, G Jon Asamoah, KR/DB Quintin Demps, DE Tyson Jackson, FS Kendrick Lewis, WR/KR Dexter McCluster, DT Jerrell Powe, and OL Geoff Schwartz

Oakland Raiders

  • Last Season: 4-12, Fourth in AFC West
  • Head Coach: Dennis Allen
  • Newcomers: QB Matt Schaub, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, DE Justin Tuck, OT Austin Howard, LB Lamarr Woodley, DE Antonio Smith, G Kevin Boothe, WR James Jones, DE C.J. Wilson, T Donald Penn, CB Tarell Brown, and CB Carlos Rogers
  • Left Town: OT Jared Veldheer, DE Lamarr Houston, RB Rashad Jennings, CB Philip Adams, WR Jacoby Ford, and CB Tracy Porter

San Diego Chargers

  • Last Season: 9-7, Third in AFC West, Lost AFC Divisional Game
  • Head Coach: Mike McCoy
  • Left Town: CB Derek Cox, QB Charlie Whitehurst, and FB Le’Ron McClain
  • Newcomers: RB Donald Brown, CB Brandon Flowers, and QB Kellen Clemens

Top Two
The Denver Broncos will always be the favorites to take the AFC West as long as quarterback Peyton Manning can play at his usual elite level. The team is also stronger defensively in 2014 with safety TJ Ward, cornerback Aqib Talib and linebacker Demarcus Ware in the lineup. Second place should go to the San Diego Chargers with a good veteran quarterback in Philip Rivers with Brad Sorensen waiting in the wings. The squad is also solid defensively.

Bottom Two
The Kansas City Chiefs are limited when it comes to their offense even with running back Jamaal Charles in the lineup and this will likely result in a third-place finish for them. The Chargers finished in third in the AFC West last year and made it to the postseason as a wildcard team, but the playoffs are probably out of reach for the Chiefs this season. The Raiders Oakland Raiders added veteran quarterback Matt Schaub to their squad for 2014, but probably won’t get out of the division’s basement.