We are still a few months away from the start of the 2017 NFL season. For the better part of 15 years, we have seen the New England Patriots pretty much dominate the AFC. In fact, they have been superior to the other AFC teams. However, I see that trend stopping in 2017. While I would be very surprised to see New England not win the AFC, I do not see it being such an easy cakewalk for them. Up and Coming teams as the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders may just have a say.
I am saying this because if Derek Carr can return to his level of play prior to the ACL tear and if Deshaun Watson can win the starter job in Houston and excels there, I have this feeling that Houston and Oakland will make it tougher for the Patriots to win the AFC. If you look at the Oakland Raiders, they have a formidable defense led by Khali Mack and Malcolm Smith. They also have weapons on offense with Crabtree. If Lynch returns to his beast mode days in Seattle, then they will have a tough running game to stop.
On the other side, the Houston Texans are another team I see becoming a roadblock for the New England Patriots. You have a defense led by JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, and Jadeveon Clowney. Also, you have an offense with one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins. If Watson happens to win the job over Tom Savage during training camp, then that could add another element to the offense.
Teams like Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and others who if they can play correctly will also make it tough for the New England Patriots in 2017. I am not saying that I do not see the Patriots once again winning the AFC; all I am saying is that it will not be easy for them this season.