No division in football needs to make more improvements this offseason than the AFC South, which is coming off a terrible 2013 season. Let’s take a look at the offseason needs for the four teams in the AFC South.
Houston Texans – The Texans are going to need a new quarterback next year, and they may use the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to get one. However, a majority of their other needs are on the defensive side of the ball. Houston needs a complete makeover at linebacker, especially when it comes to pass rushers, which could be something they target in free agency, unless they use the first overall pick on Jadeveon Clowney instead of a quarterback. The Texans also need to make improvements in their secondary, which is an area they can’t ignore. Back on the offensive side of the ball, the Texans will also need to get better along the offensive line, which was a huge problem in 2013, unless they want their new quarterback running for his life.
Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck took the Colts to the second round of the playoffs, doing so almost single handedly, and now the team needs to give him more support so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. Indianapolis has a nice set of skill players, although they could use more depth at wide receiver, especially after Reggie Wayne’s injury. The offensive line is their biggest issue on that side of the ball, as they need to do a better job of protecting their franchise quarterback. On defense, the Colts may need to start from scratch in their secondary, although re-signing Vontae Davis would help their rebuilding effort. Elsewhere, the Colts need to find a middle linebacker that can be the leader of the defense. They should also try to add a pass rusher to work in tandem with Robert Mathis so that they can do a better job of getting pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Obviously, quarterback is at the top of Jacksonville’s list, as they can’t continue with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, so the Jaguars are likely to use the third overall pick on a quarterback. However, that won’t solve all of the problems Jacksonville has on offense. Maurice Jones-Drew is on his way out of town, so Jacksonville needs to pick up a young running back that can step into the starting lineup right away. The Jaguars also have a few holes to fill on the offensive line, specifically at center after the retirement of Brad Meester. Of course, even though there’s a lot to fix on offense, the Jaguars can’t ignore their defense. Jacksonville needs some help at linebacker, as they need to bring in one or two guys that can play alongside Paul Posluszny to boost that unit. The Jags also need some more talent on the front line to help protect its secondary, which is young and continuing to get better, but remains vulnerable.
Tennessee Titans – There’s a new head coach in Nashville, but there’s not necessarily a lot of time for Ken Whisenhunt to turn things around, so changes have to be made to make the Titans a competitor in 2014. The most important thing the Titans were missing last year was a pass rush, and finding one or more players that can get after the quarterback will be their biggest priority, whether it happens through free agency or with their first round pick in the draft. If Tennessee can’t re-sign cornerback Alterraun Verner, they’ll have to fill that void in their secondary, but most of their other needs are on offense. Running back Chris Johnson is unlikely to be back next season, so the Titans will need to find a suitable replacement. The Titans will also want to continue building up their offensive line after drafting Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke last year. With those two guys on board, Tennessee will want to focus on drafting or signing offensive tackles this offseason.
Yesterday we took one final look at the NFL’s rookie head coaches from the 2013 season, and now it’s time to look at all of the new head coach hires for the 2014 season. Obviously, a few of these guys have been head coaches in the NFL before, but none were NFL head coaches in 2013. Let’s attempt to rank how each of the seven teams that hired a new head coach did in their coaching search.
7. Cleveland, Mike Pettine – It certainly took the Browns long enough to find a new coach after firing Rob Chudzinski after just one season. Cleveland was never going to find the most impressive candidate to be their head coach, but Pettine isn’t a bad choice. He spent four seasons as the right hand man to Rex Ryan while working as the defensive coordinator for the Jets, which could be seen as both a positive and negative attribute, depending on your feelings about Ryan. In 2013, he orchestrated a solid defense in Buffalo, despite some obvious personnel weaknesses at a few spots. The name won’t blow people away, but considering Cleveland’s situation, Pettine was about the best person they could get to fill their coaching vacancy.
6. Houston, Bill O’Brien – This could be the biggest risk-reward hire this offseason. O’Brien is a branch on the Bill Belichick coaching tree, so there should be some skepticism, but at the same time O’Brien is a terrific offensive coach. O’Brien has also spent a lot more time in college than in the NFL, which could be a concern, but at the same time, the work he did at Penn State the last two seasons was nothing short of extraordinary. O’Brien has a lot of potential as a head coach in the NFL, but he also has plenty of drawbacks, so this is coaching hire could go either way.
5. Minnesota, Mike Zimmer – Year after year Zimmer has put together top-10 defenses in Cincinnati, and he’s been one of the top assistant coaches in the NFL for the last several years, so there’s no denying that he’s qualified to become a head coach in the NFL. However, the NFL is all about offense these days, and without previous head coaching experience or experience on the offensive side of the ball puts Zimmer at a disadvantage compared to some of the other new coaches in the league, especially since the Vikings have some things to figure out on offense, specifically at the quarterback position.
4. Detroit, Jim Caldwell – Caldwell is a tough guy to figure out with just three years of experience as a head coach in the NFL. Obviously, things went well for him in Indianapolis when Peyton Manning was playing, as the Colts went to the Super Bowl in Caldwell’s first season at the helm. But when Manning didn’t play in 2011, the wheels completely fell off. Caldwell also won a Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator of the Ravens last year, but this past season his offense struggled for long stretches of the season. For now, Caldwell will get the benefit of the doubt, because he inherits a talented roster in Detroit, but there are reasons to be skeptical about Caldwell’s ability to do more with all the talent the Lions have than Jim Schwartz did.
3. Washington, Jay Gruden – Gruden was a highly sought candidate, and he does have a lot of head coaching experience and success in the Arena Football League, which obviously isn’t the same as being an NFL head coach, but it’s better than having no head coaching experience. His last name gives him some credibility, and so does the fact that he’s put together good offenses in Cincinnati the last few years, even without an elite level quarterback. Washington wants to win behind Robert Griffin III at quarterback, and hiring one of the top offensive coordinators in the game was a great choice to help make that happen, as Gruden was arguably the best available candidate that didn’t have NFL head coaching experience.
2. Tennessee, Ken Whisenhunt – Despite reaching a Super Bowl and winning two division titles, Whisenhunt had a rather uneven six-year tenure as the head coach in Arizona. However, he’s always had success as an offensive coordinator, and after San Diego ranked 5th in total offense this past season, Whisenhunt was deserving of another chance to become a head coach. Obviously, the Titans wanted to move in a new direction after firing Mike Munchak, and with his previous coaching experience and success as a coordinator, Whisenhunt is definitely an upgrade over Munchak.
1. Tampa Bay, Lovie Smith – The Bucs moved fast after firing Greg Schiano, and when all was said and done they have the best coach out of all seven teams that made a coaching change this year. Smith was 18 games above .500 during his nine seasons in Chicago, which means he averaged a 9-7 record in what is usually one of the toughest divisions in football, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He has a long history of being one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL, and with the talent in Tampa on that side of the ball, he has a chance to put together something special defensively next year, which could make the Bucs a respectable and competitive team right away. On top of all that, having served under Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay for five seasons makes Smith a perfect fit for the Bucs and the best new coach hire heading into 2014.
Yesterday, we took a look at the leading candidates for defensive rookie of the year, and now it’s time to take a closer look at the first-year standouts on the offensive side of the ball. There are a lot of great candidates for this award, but we’ve narrowed it down to the top five.
Keenan Allen, San Diego – In a tight and crowded rookie of the year race, Allen may be one of the few players that is starting to stand out. The Chargers needed somebody to step up at wide receiver and Allen responded, as he has become San Diego’s leading receiver with nearly 1,000 yards on the season and eight touchdowns. Few rookie receivers are able to make a big impact, but Allen has made a seamless transition from college to the NFL, and that has put him in good position to be offensive rookie of the year.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati – Bernard is only playing part time, but he has taken that part time play and carried it a long way. The Bengals drafted him to be a change-of-pace back, but he’s nearly in equal to BenJarvus Green-Ellis in yards, while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. What has separated Bernard from a lot of the other rookie running backs has been his pass catching ability, as he’s the team’s third leading receiver with 51 catches for over 400 yards and three touchdowns. He may not have enough carries or played a big enough role on his team to win the award, but he’s been a great addition to an offense with a lot of playmakers and has shown great promise during his rookie season.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston – His team’s terrible record will probably prevent him from garnering serious consideration for the award, as will some of his inconsistencies, but Hopkins has made an instant impact for the Texans as a nice complement to veteran Andre Johnson. Hopkins has nearly eclipsed the 800-yard mark this season and is averaging 16 yards per reception. His chances to win are hurt by the fact that he only has two touchdowns on the season, but compared to other rookie wide receivers, Hopkins has had a good season and made a difference, even on a bad team.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay – Lacy is most likely Allen’s biggest competition for offensive rookie of the year. He has gone over the 1,100-yard mark and found the end zone 10 times, while averaging nearly 80 yards per game. Most importantly, he has helped carry a team that has been without its starting quarterback for half the season. Lacy has had no trouble adjusting physically to life in the NFL, even against teams stacking the box against him. Perhaps most importantly, he’s only fumbled the ball once, so he’s taken care of the football and his team has been able to rely on him, which should carry him a long way in the rookie of the year race.
Zac Stacy, St. Louis – Stacy was my pick before the season as a rookie running back that could come out of nowhere and make an impact, and now he’s a dark horse to win rookie of the year. He didn’t start playing regularly until October, and yet Stacy still has 958 yards rushing on the season, making him second only to Lacy among rookies, and giving him a chance to eclipse 1,000 yards in what would essentially be three-quarters of a season. If his stats could be extrapolated to a full season and his team was better, Stacy would certainly be among the top two or three candidates for the award and have a real chance to be rookie of the year.
Here are some AFC news and notes for week 12:
- Are the Chiefs overrated? Well, their defense now has 0 sacks in their opponents last 90 drop backs and they didn’t even manage to hit Peyton Manning on Sunday. Also, Alex Smith, despite winning games, is putting up his worst numbers in 4+ years.
- The Patriots offense is BACK. Since Gronk came back—along with Amendola and now Vereen—the Pats are averaging over 32 points a game and Tom Brady completed over 70% of his passes against the top ranked NFL defense last week.
- The Broncos defense has forced the 6th most punts in the NFL. This group has continued to get a bad rep despite playing pretty well the last 4/5 weeks. The last 3 games (during which the Bronco’s offense has been solid, but not great) the Bronco’s defense has given up less than 20 points per game.
- The Bengals (or should I say Andy Dalton) still have a lot to prove. 1 conversion on 3rd down and passing for less than 100 yards will not usually result in a 41-point performance. Not to mention it won’t get it done come playoffs.
- Gary Kubiak is not handling the QB situation in Houston very well. After pulling Case Keenum in favor of veteran Matt Schaub in the middle of the game on Sunday, Kubiak has announced that Keenum will again be the starter in week 12. These are the kind of desperate spur of the moment moves that get you in the hot seat.
- Only the Jaguars have a worse point differential than the Jaguars, yet the Jets are currently in line for a wild card spot.
- The Titans are the only team with a losing record to have a positive point differential.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson
11NFL Week 11 Predictions: Bills-Jets, Bears-Ravens, Bengals-Browns, Lions-Steelers, Texans-Raiders and More
With the Broncos-Chiefs, Pats-Panthers, Saints-49ers, etc on the schedule, this week is full of exciting matchups. Here are the teams we like to come out on top:
Bryan Zarpentine: Tampa Bay 23, Atlanta 21 – The Bucs keep up some forward momentum while the Falcons continue to spiral out of control.
Cole Stevenson: Atlanta 23, Tampa Bay 21
Bryan Zarpentine: Buffalo 20, New York Jets 10 – The Bills respond to Doug Marrone’s fiery comments last week and play a complete game.
Cole Stevenson: New York Jets 21, Buffalo 13
Bryan Zarpentine: Chicago 27, Baltimore 13 – The Baltimore defense can’t put together two straight weeks quality performances, especially against a talented Chicago offense.
Cole Stevenson: Chicago 24, Baltimore 19
Bryan Zarpentine: Cincinnati 20, Cleveland 17 – It isn’t pretty, but while at home the Bengals find a way to edge out the Browns.
Cole Stevenson: Cincinnati 23, Cleveland 18
Bryan Zarpentine: Detroit 30, Pittsburgh 17 – The Lions get their running game going and become too much for the Steelers to handle.
Cole Stevenson: Detroit 27, Pittsburgh 20
Bryan Zarpentine: Houston 21, Oakland 10 – The Raiders can’t do much on offense against Houston’s defense, giving the Texans a much-needed win.
Cole Stevenson: Houston 24, Oakland 16
Bryan Zarpentine: Philadelphia 38, Washington 28 – The Redskins can’t stop Philadelphia’s offense and RG3 can’t keep up.
Cole Stevenson: Philadelphia 31, Washington 24
Bryan Zarpentine: Arizona 31, Jacksonville 10 – The Cardinals win going away in a rout.
Cole Stevenson: Arizona 27, Jacksonville 17
Bryan Zarpentine: San Diego 27, Miami 21 – The Chargers have played well on the east coast this year, and take advantage of a team that’s still going through turmoil.
Cole Stevenson: San Diego 24, Miami 20
Bryan Zarpentine: New York Giants 24, Green Bay 14 – The Giants continue to make incremental progress, and they have just enough to beat a depleted Packer’s team.
Cole Stevenson: Giants 25, Green Bay 20
Bryan Zarpentine: Seattle 24, Minnesota 7 – The Seahawks are sluggish offensively at first, but ultimately they’re too good for the Vikings.
Cole Stevenson: Seattle 23, Minnesota 10
Bryan Zarpentine: New Orleans 34, San Francisco 17 – The 49ers don’t put up much of a fight in the second half against a much better team.
Cole Stevenson: New Orleans 30, San Francisco 19
Bryan Zarpentine: Denver 31, Kansas City 20 – The Chiefs keep Peyton Manning under wraps in the first half, but the Broncos blitz them with big plays in the 3rd quarter and pull away.
Cole Stevenson: Denver 28, Kansas City 19
Bryan Zarpentine: Carolina 20, New England 16 – The Carolina defense keeps Tom Brady under wraps just enough to pull out another impressive win.
Cole Stevenson: New England 24, Carolina 20
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11NFL Week 11 Preview: Jets-Bills, Ravens-Bears, Redskins-Eagles, Raiders-Texans, Chiefs-Broncos and More
Things are heating up in the NFL, with a slew of important intra-divisional matchups on tap for this weekend. With so much at stake, let’s take a closer look at the week 11 schedule:
New York Jets at Buffalo – The Bills are coming off their worst performance of the season, as they looked pitiful last week against the Steelers. That game was followed by a frustrated yet passionate postgame press conference by Doug Marrone, so expect Buffalo to play with a lot more purpose this week, especially after they failed to capitalize on opportunities to beat the Jets the first time they met. As for Rex Ryan’s team, they were impressive in their win over the Saints two weeks ago heading into their bye week, but they’ve yet to win two straight games this season, so that’s a hump they’ll try to get over this week. If the playoffs are a realistic possibility for the Jets, they can’t afford to lose to a team like Buffalo, and Geno Smith will need to be sharp to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Baltimore at Chicago – The Ravens kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a win over the Bengals last week, and a win this week would get them back to .500 on the heels of a three-game home stand. Outside of a lucky Hail Mary, the Baltimore defense clamped down on Cincinnati last week, forcing three turnovers, and they’ll have to do the same this week against another offense that’s loaded with playmakers. Josh McCown will start at quarterback for the Bears, but he’s exceeded expectations for a backup quarterback and should put Chicago in good hands. The Chicago offense could be too much for the Ravens to stop for four quarters, but Chicago’s defense may not be able to keep Joe Flacco and company out of the end zone either, so expect this to be a competitive game that both teams need to win.
Cleveland at Cincinnati – The Bengals have lost in overtime the last two weeks, and now they take on a team that beat them earlier in the season, so the pressure is mounting, especially since the Browns can pull within a game of first place if they can get a season sweep of Cincinnati. Andy Dalton has thrown three interceptions in each of the past two games, and if that trend continues, the Bengals could be in danger of losing their third game in a row. Jason Campbell has provided a spark for Cleveland’s offense, and if he plays well again the Browns will be competitive on the road and have a chance to win.
Washington at Philadelphia – The Eagles may have found something with Nick Foles at quarterback, as he’s played well the past two weeks, and that shouldn’t be too hard to keep up against the Washington defense. The Philadelphia defense has also played better the past couple of weeks; however, this week they’ll go up against a much healthier and more dangerous Robert Griffin III than the guy they faced in week 1, so we should expect plenty of points to be scored in this game. The Redskins have a killer schedule down the stretch, so even in a weak NFC East this is a must-win game for Washington if they’re going to make a move late in the season. Meanwhile, the Eagles are tied with Dallas atop the division, and if they can find a way to win at home for the first time this year, they’ll be alone in first place.
Detroit at Pittsburgh – The Lions got into first place with last week’s win, and now they need to find a way to stay there. When Detroit gets its running game going, their offense goes to another level, which should be the case this week, as the Steelers are one of the worst teams in the league at defending the run. Pittsburgh will try to counter with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, but if Detroit’s pass rush can be effective, it’ll be hard for Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense to keep up with the Lions.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay – Both teams are out of the playoff race, but the Bucs have a chance to pull themselves even with the Falcons in the standings with a win. Both quarterbacks played well when the two teams met in week 7, so even if this isn’t a meeting between two good teams, we should at least see plenty of offense.
Arizona at Jacksonville – The Cardinals can put themselves into the thick of the wildcard race with a win, but they can’t afford to overlook the Jaguars on the road after Jacksonville is riding high from their first win of the season last week. Of course, even in their win, the Jaguars were barely able to eclipse 200 total yards, so if Arizona can avoid turning the ball over and play solid defense against the run, which they’ve done all year, the Cardinals should be able to win.
Oakland at Houston – The Texans hope that the return of Gary Kubiak gives them enough of a lift to end their seven-game losing streak. Houston has lost its last three games by a combined seven points, so they’ve been competitive, but just haven’t had enough to get over the hump. The matchup to watch in this game is Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor going up against the top pass defense in the NFL, which is a matchup that favors the Texans and could give rookie Case Keenum a little less pressure to rally the team late in the 4th quarter, which is the position he’s been in the last three weeks.
San Diego at Miami – The turmoil in Miami continues both off and on the field, as the Dolphins have lost five of their last six games and are in danger of completely falling out of contention. The schedule gets real tough for the Dolphins for the next four weeks following this game, so if they can’t get a win here, the season will be all but over for them. Look for the Chargers to go all out with their pass rush to expose a weak Miami offensive line. Unless the Dolphins can counter with an effective running game, they could be in trouble, especially after rushing for two yards against Tampa Bay Monday night. San Diego is also in a must-win position, as they make their fourth trip to the east coast of the season. However, the Chargers have played well on the east coast this season, and if Phillip Rivers can avoid turning the ball over, they’ll be in good shape to win.
San Francisco at New Orleans – The last thing the 49ers need right now is a trip to New Orleans, as a loss would make San Francisco’s playoff chances a lot less certain than we thought they would be heading into the season. Colin Kaepernick is struggling and the team doesn’t seem to trust him, which means they’ll be relying on Frank Gore and their running game to move the ball and help keep Drew Brees off the field. San Francisco can’t afford to get into a shootout, so they’ll need their defense to step up. If the San Francisco pass rush is effective, it should prevent the Saints from running away with the game, and at least give Kaepernick and the offense a chance to win.
Green Bay at New York Giants – These are two teams moving in opposite directions: the Packers are struggling to hold on after two straight losses and an injury to their quarterback, while the Giants are slowly building momentum with a three-game winning streak. Regardless of who’s playing quarterback, the Packers still pose a threat with their running game and will be a challenge for the Giants, who need to cut down on the mistakes they’re still making despite their recent winning streak. If New York can continue the recent improvement in their pass rush and put consistent pressure on Scott Tolzien, the offense should be able to muster up enough points to win, but if Tolzien has time in the pocket he should be able to move the ball enough to keep the Packers close.
Minnesota at Seattle – The Vikings got a nice win last week, but they could be in a little over their head with a trip to Seattle this week. The Seahawks finally put together a complete game last week after two questionable performances, and they need to keep that going. Seattle’s biggest problem this week could be complacency with their bye week coming up next week. The Seahawks face a tough schedule coming out of the bye and can’t afford to slip up against a weaker opponent heading into their off week.
Kansas City at Denver – This game is the highlight of the weekend, and one that we’ve been waiting to see. Obviously, the player to watch is Peyton Manning; he’s a little banged up and the depleted offensive line in front of him is going to have its hands full with one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. Look for the Broncos to get the ball out of Manning’s hands as quickly as possible, even if it means taking less shots deep. On the other side of the ball, Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense have been steady this year, but are in no way prepared for a shootout against Manning and the Denver defense. If the Chiefs have to score more than 20 points to win the game, they could be in trouble, as Denver’s pass rush could get after Smith if he has to throw the ball downfield in order to keep up with Manning. This game will come down to whether the Kansas City defense can get after Manning and keep the Broncos out of the end zone, as the Chiefs will feel good about their chances in a low scoring game.
1110 NFL Teams That Should Draft A Quarterback Next Year: Browns, Texans, Chiefs, Vikings, Raiders, Steelers and More
The NFL season is only a little more than half over, but there are still plenty of teams that are ready to move on towards next season, especially at the quarterback position. Last year’s draft didn’t provide much at quarterback outside of Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel, but this year’s draft class looks a lot more promising and much deeper, which is a good thing because there are a lot of teams that should be taking a close look at this year’s crop of college quarterbacks. Here are 10 teams that should be seriously considering taking a quarterback within the first few rounds of next year’s draft:
Arizona – The Cardinals are getting by this season with Carson Palmer, but he has only so many throws left in his arm, and they need to start looking for his replacement, even if Palmer still has another year or two left in him. Arizona could be stuck in the same division with Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick for a long time, and they need to find a quarterback that can measure up to those two guys. With Wilson and Kaepernick both being dual-threat quarterbacks, the Cardinals may be looking for someone in that same mold, perhaps Brett Hundley or Marcus Mariota if they pick high enough, or possibly Tajh Boyd is those two are off the board or decide to stay in school.
Cleveland – It looks like Brandon Weeden is all but finished as a starter in the NFL, and the Browns can’t afford to wait for Brian Hoyer to recover from his injury to see if he’s the real deal, which he probably isn’t after only a few good starts. Cleveland has been in this situation before and they’ve failed to find a franchise quarterback in the draft, but here’s one more chance to get it right. The Browns need to make a splash in some way, and while they’ve probably won too many games this season to have a chance at Teddy Bridgewater, if they have a chance to take Johnny Manziel, they should jump at it, as he would create the kind of excitement around their organization that they need.
Houston – It’s time for the Texans to move on from Matt Schaub, and it’s tough to be sold on Case Keenum just yet since the team isn’t winning games, so it’s more than likely that they’ll be looking for a franchise quarterback in the draft. Houston looks like a team that will be drafting high, but they could also wait until the second or third round to take a quarterback. The Texans may look to go the Andy Dalton route, which means college guys with a lot of experience like Aaron Murray, Stephen Morris or Derek Carr could be potential choices if they pass on taking a quarterback in the first round. Of course, if Gary Kubiak is fired, that could change the team’s approach depending on whom they hire to replace him.
Jacksonville – The Blaine Gabbert era has to be over in Jacksonville, and Chad Henne isn’t exactly the answer either. The Jaguars will do their homework, but it’s hard to imagine them not reaching the conclusion that Teddy Bridgewater is their best bet at quarterback. Of course, Bridgewater could decide to return to school (not implying that he will, just playing devil’s advocate), in which case the Jaguars would be in a tough spot, as there may not be another quarterback worthy of being the top overall pick, but they can’t really wait until the second round to take a quarterback.
Kansas City – No one’s trying to run Alex Smith out of town because the Chiefs are winning with him, but he’s not that young and he’s not a high-end quarterback that you feel confident can take you to the Super Bowl. Kansas City has the talented Tyler Bray on their roster, but they’ll want someone else who they know can push Smith for the job after a year or two, just like Colin Kaepernick did in San Francisco. Kansas City won’t be taking a quarterback in the first round, but if anyone catches Andy Reid’s eye in the second or third round, the Chiefs won’t hesitate to take him.
Minnesota – Let’s not pretend that Christian Ponder still has a chance of working out. Josh Freeman probably isn’t the guy the Vikings want to move forward either. Despite making the playoffs last year, Minnesota is right back where they were when they took Ponder a few years ago. The Vikings will be looking at quarterbacks with first round talent, which means Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, and Johnny Manziel are all possibilities.
Oakland – Just because Terrelle Pryor beat out Matt Flynn in the preseason doesn’t mean Pryor is the future. He has a chance to prove otherwise with his play throughout the rest of the season, but the Raiders should definitely be considering their options at quarterback. Oakland should be picking high this year, which will give them a chance to take Johnny Manziel or Marcus Mariota, or possibly Tajh Boyd early in the second round. They could also choose to play it safe and take another shot at a polished pocket passer like A.J. McCarron or Aaron Murray.
Pittsburgh – The Steelers drafted Landry Jones last year, but he’s probably more of a long-term backup or a stopgap if Ben Roethlisberger gets hurt. Rumor has it that Roethlisberger is looking to be traded this offseason, and even if that’s not true, Pittsburgh may need to start thinking about how much longer Roethlisberger is going to be able to play with the hits he’s taken the past few years. They could try waiting another year or two and see how Jones develops, but with a lot of good choices available this season, why wait if there’s someone they really like. The name to keep an eye on is Zach Mettenberger, who is a big guy with a big arm, and he could be ready to pick up where Roethlisberger leaves off.
St. Louis – Even before the injury to Sam Bradford, the Rams should have been looking at this year’s crop of college quarterbacks, and now it’s obvious that they’ll be looking to draft a quarterback early next year. Jeff Fisher is probably going to want more of a pocket passer, which could make Zach Mettenberger one of their top choices, although Tajh Boyd, Derek Carr, and Aaron Murray are also guys that could fit in St. Louis and take the reins from Bradford.
Tampa Bay – Greg Schiano may like Mike Glennon, but Schiano probably won’t be the head coach next season, and Glennon may not be the quarterback the new coach wants to move forward with. The Bucs didn’t draft Glennon high enough to owe him more of an opportunity, especially when they’ll have a high draft pick next year and a chance to take just about anybody they want. Just about every quarterback available is on the table for the Bucs, including Teddy Bridgewater if they end up with the top overall pick.
Week 4 is in the books and just like every other week in this 2013 campaign, there were plenty more surprising performances. How did that effect your team in the AFC power rankings though? Here are your week 5 power rankings for the AFC:
#1 Denver Broncos
I am running out of superlatives at this point. However, the combined record of their opponents to this point is 4-12 and they have played only 1 game on the road, so I am not ready to predict an undefeated season…yet.
#2 New England Patriots
The loss of Vince Wilfork is a brutal one for the 4-0 Pats and their run defense. However, the offense is starting to look light-years better and help is still on the way.
#3 Kansas City Chiefs
Much like the Broncos, the Chiefs opponents are only 3-13 at this point. I know this team is for real, but I want to see more before I believe they are this good.
#4 Indianapolis Colts
After having some shaky games in the first couple weeks, the Colts are starting to look much more like a team that could win the AFC South.
#5 Miami Dolphins
A matchup against Drew Brees in New Orleans is no small task for anyone., so it’s hard to hold that against them too much. They are not a team built for the shootout. This team is still solid though and should be able to rebound just fine.
#6 Houston Texans
One terrible decision by Matt Schaub cost this team a huge win over the undefeated Seahawks. Makes me wonder yet again if Schaub can take this team to where they want to be?
#7 Tennessee Titans
I haven’t been real impressed by any of their wins yet, but they are taking care of business and beating teams they should. Their future will largely depend on the health of Jake Locker though.
#8 San Diego Chargers
This might be a little bit of a stretch, but I find myself rooting for this team to be for real. They have now put up the 2nd most points in the AFC.
#9 Cleveland Browns
A huge win over the Bengals gives the Browns the highest spot out of the entire AFC North. Speaking of which, that division is right there for the taking at this point.
#10 Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton cannot take this team to the next level. I have always believed that and never more than I do today.
#11 Buffalo Bills
From here on down you could really mix and match and I would have no argument. Bills just intercepted Flacco 5 times though, so I gave them the edge this week.
#12 Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco continues to show everyone just how overrated he is. I feel bad for Ray Rice at this point. I wish they would trade him to a team that would use him the way he deserves to be used.
#13 New York Jets
Well, I know its still early, but Geno Smith certainly doesn’t seem to be the answer. Bilal Powell has been a bright spot though.
#14 Oakland Raiders
If Terrelle Pryor is healthy, I think the Raiders would’ve beat the Redskins on Sunday. Matt Flynn is not built to play behind the Raiders leaky offensive line.
#15 Pittsburgh Steelers
After losing to the Vikings, if the Steelers don’t get in the win column after having 2 weeks to prepare for the Jets, it could be a while before we see Big Ben and company get their first win.
#16 Jacksonville Jaguars
This team is an embarrassment. Blaine Gabbert has produced 2 field goals and no TD’s this year. MJD and Tim Tebow running the spread option every play could do that much.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson
Peyton Manning and the Broncos continue to play on another level compared to the rest of the AFC. Where does your team rank in the rest of the field though? Here are your week 3 AFC power rankings:
#1 Denver Broncos
Nothing to say other than: the Broncos offense has practically singlehandedly caused me to lost two of my fantasy matchups.
#2 New England Patriots
The young receivers looked light-years better on Sunday and Gronk/Amendola should be back soon. Side note: only the Seahwaks have given up fewer points.
#3 Kansas City Chiefs
Incredibly impressive the turnaround this team is having. Nothing flashy, but they just do all the little things right.
#4 Miami Dolphins
I am buying in. I could’ve put the defending champs here, but I like the Dolphins offense more..
#5 Baltimore Ravens
Big home win over Houston, but their offense continues to be very unimpressive… as does Joe Flacco.
#6 Indianapolis Colts
Hard to gauge how big of an upset their win over the 49ers actually was, based on how the 49ers performed, but it was a huge road win regardless.
#7 Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals got extremely lucky when rookie RB Johnathan Franklin fumbled the ball away to give the Bengals a lead they would not relinquish. Still a solid team though.
#8 Tennessee Titans
Never been the biggest Jake Locker fan, but what a huge drive he had on Sunday during the Titans comeback win.
#9 New York Jets
The fact that this team is top 10 is embarrassing for the AFC, but Rex Ryan’s defense knows how to get the job done.
#10 Buffalo Bills
Really thought the Bills were going to beat the Jets on Sunday. I know it’s really early, but it’s tough to see a wild card appearance now.
#11 San Diego Chargers
This team has lost 2 games they should have won now. Phillip Rivers can’t continue to do it all.
#12 Cleveland Browns
I have to believe the Brown’s win Sunday was a fluke….Hoyer was impressive though.
#13 Oakland Raiders
The Raiders offense has put up only 2 points less than that of the Patriots. I think it’s fair to say that they have been better than most expected.
#14 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers offense finally showed some life this week, but I am assuming teams will learn to guard Antonio Brown and the success will be short lived.
#15 Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars should just sign Tim Tebow, so that at least people would have a reason to watch.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson
Week two is in the books and it’s the usual suspects at the top of the AFC power rankings. See how your team stacks up against the rest of the AFC:
#1 Denver Broncos
This team is on another planet right now. They have outscored every other team by at least 24 points and Peyton Manning alone has more TD’s than every other TEAM in the league.
#2 New England Patriots
The offense still looks miserable, but the defense has stood up nicely and Tom Brady is still the quarterback for this team. Help is on the way and, given some time, Brady will establish a better relationship with his young WR’s.
#3 Houston Texans
You would’ve expected a better showing from the Texans defense the first two weeks, but their offense has bailed them out. DeAndre Hopkins looks like he might be that #2 WR that they have needed for years behind Andre Johnson.
#4 Kansas City Chiefs
Unless you’re a Broncos, Raiders, or Chargers fan, it’s hard not to be happy for this team and their 2-0 start to the season. The defense has been stellar, giving up the 2nd fewest points in the NFL behind only the Seahawks.
#5 Miami Dolphins
Most people didn’t give this team much of a shot at the beginning of the year, but they have shut up some doubters with back-to-back road wins. I have said all along that this team is well capable of earning a wild card spot and that appears to be the case right now.
#6 Baltimore Ravens
This team is this high out of respect for the fact that they are defending world champions. Joe Flacco is still nowhere near elite and I would not be surprised if this team completely misses the playoffs.
#7 Cincinnati Bengals
This Bengals defense looked solid on Monday night, but it’s hard to tell how much of that had to do with the Steelers deficiencies. I really liked what I saw from their running game against a solid run defending team in the Steelers though.
#8 Buffalo Bills
What a great win for the Bills and rookie E.J. Manuel at home over the Panthers. I am nowhere near sold on this team going forward, but it’s hard to find another team to put in front of them.
#9 Indianapolis Colts
I have said since the preseason that this team would be nowhere as good as last year, but I expected a better start than this. They looked shaky against the Raiders and lost what might end up being a crucial game (wild card wise) against the Dolphins in week 2.
#10 Tennessee Titans
It was an impressive game for the Titans in Houston this week, but I need to see more before they go any higher than 10. I don’t have a problem with Jake Locker, I just don’t think he’ll ever be THE guy for an NFL team.
#11 New York Jets
I really do feel bad for the Jets defense, because they are the real deal. In the end though, this is a QB league and this team’s fate rests in the hands of their rookie QB Geno Smith.
#12 San Diego Chargers
Chargers went from miserable to hopeful in a week. Phillip Rivers looked like the 2008-2010 version of Phillip Rivers against Philadelphia and led an inspired game winning drive. The jury remains out on the defense though.
#13 Oakland Raiders
Raiders beat the Jaguars in week 2, but I am not sure if that is a good thing. Might have cost them the #1 overall pick. Seriously though, Terrelle Pryor has looked much better than I think anyone expected.
#14 Pittsburgh Steelers
This team is atrocious offensively. No running game, no pass protection, and no points. The only reason I have them ahead of Cleveland is because they still have a super bowl QB in Ben Roethlisberger.
#15 Cleveland Browns
All I heard all offseason was how the Browns were going to surprise some people. Didn’t see it then, and I am still waiting to see it now. Only the Jaguars have scored fewer points.
#16 Jacksonville Jaguars
You know you’re in rough shape when your backup QB puts up 9 points and is considered a vast improvement over your starting QB.
Tell me how wrong I am on twitter @Cole_Stevenson