1. New England Patriots 12-4- Tom Brady and company can’t be stopped on offense.
2. Buffalo Bills 7-9 – E.J. Manuel won’t go through the sophomore slump with Sammy Watkins and C.J. Spiller at his side. They still need more time to develop into a playoff contender.
3. Miami Dolphins 7-9- The Dolphins need a bit more firepower on offense to be a playoff contender.
4. New York Jets 6-10- The Jets have more offensive firepower this season since they added Chris Johnson and Eric Decker. They will improve but they need more time to gel as a cohesive unit.
1. Cincinnati Bengals 11-5 A.J. Green and Mohammed Sanu continue to amaze the fans and help Andy Dalton light up the scoreboard.
2. Baltimore Ravens 10-6 Joe Flacco won’t let his team down. Flacco won’t have his stud running back Ray Rice for two games. However, Rice will pound defenses into submission when he returns.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 7-9 The Steelers don’t have the “Steel Curtain” defense they need to survive the regular season. The offense under Ben Roethlisberger will bail them out with new addition Darius Heyward-Bey but it won’t be enough to make the playoffs.
4. Cleveland Browns 5-11 Cleveland is vulnerable without Josh Gordon. There is a ton of pressure on Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. Mike Pettine is a rookie NFL Head Coach and Kyle Shanahan’s offensive playbook is hard to digest. Expect the Browns to have their rise to power next year if they maintain continuity of the roster and coaching staff. There can’t be any deviation from what the Browns have now.
1. Indianapolis Colts 12-4 Andrew Luck is a boss. He knows how to shred defenses and he will get better with time. Its unfinished business for the Colts and it’s reasonable to expect them to at least advance to the AFC Championship game.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10 The Jaguars will be a different team with Blake Bortles and Marquise Lee. They needed a dynamic passing duo and they have one. Losing Maurice Jones-Drew to the Raiders will hurt them but passing is more important. It’s reasonable to expect the Jaguars to improve but not make the leap to the playoffs.
3. Tennessee Titans 4-12 The Titans have not developed into a real threat yet. They are still years away.
4. Houston Texans 3-13 The Texans are a hot mess. They should be comfortable with where they stand but an injury plagued offense turned Super Bowl talk into Cleveland-like misery. Andre Johnson and Arian Foster may need to bolt unless newly acquired quarterback Ryan Mallett answers the Texans’ prayers and leads the team to a trip to the playoffs.
1. Denver Broncos 14-2 The Broncos offense is too hot to trot. Building the defense with key additions will also help after being exposed by the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The four-game suspension of Wes Welker will hurt, but Manning knows how to deliver.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 13-3 The Chiefs have to feel good. Extending Alex Smith’s contract was a huge win. Expect Smith to shine with brilliance and confidence after the new deal. He has outstanding weapons in receiver Dwayne Bowe and running back Jamaal Charles.
3. San Diego Chargers 9-7 There is a mystery to solve here. How do you stop Phillip Rivers? That is the question defensive coordinators must answer. There is not a simple solution to stopping Rivers.
4. Oakland Raiders 6-10 Oakland is the victim of being in a very rugged division. They improved the offense by adding former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. However, they will lose all six division games against very formidable opponents which will be the reason the Raiders miss the playoffs.