A couple of days ago, I was updating my podcast feed. During the update, I encountered a pleasant surprise. The Bill Simmons podcast, which had been a string of shows that I cared nothing about for the past 8 months, updated with their AFC preview with Cousin Sal. That’s when I know that it is truly time for me to start paying attention.
My birthday used to fall on the same day as the Super Bowl and more than once growing up I had a Super Bowl themed birthday party. Recently, I realized that there were so many other things to do on an autumn or winter Sunday afternoon than sit around and watch football. I’m not nearly the football fan that I used to be.
Oh sure, all of this kerfuffle around concussions and not standing for the national anthem have me curious. Just not curious enough to tune in every Sunday for about the last 5? 6? 7 years? When was the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl? That would have been the last complete game I watched
I do keep in the game by listening to Simmons and Sal every year. I’ve also become a huge college football fan. Instead of watching men get paid market value to smash their heads into one another, I’m watching unpaid interns. Old habits die hard and nobody’s perfect. Let’s bury that lead and get to the preview.
- Patsies: Is there any more sure bet in sports than the Patriots winning the East every year? Sure, there are worse teams in the league in any given season, but this is the worst division 2-4 year in and year out. An automatic 6 (well, usually 5 because they sometimes poop the bed against the Fins in Miami) wins every year sure goes a long way to building a dynasty.
- Jets?: I guess. Buffalo had a decent season last year, but nobody knows how or even why. The Fins are perennially very bad and showed no inclination to get any better in the off season. The Jets have the new hotness at quarterback and there seems to be one a year that “surprises” everyone and leads their team to a big improvement. Perhaps this is the Jets year.
- Bills: If the Bills don’t repeat their improbable competence from last year, they should at least win enough games to keep them out of the basement this year. Honestly, though, does anyone know what to do with any of these teams besides the Patriots?
- Fins: Okay, so I’m 99.9% sure that Miami will end up in last place, so maybe it’s just the Jets and the Bills that I can’t tell the difference. If any of you says anything about the Jets wearing green and the Bills wearing blue, I will not be held responsible for my actions in response.
- Chefs: People are high on the Chargers and even the Raiders for some reason (I’ll get into that reason when I get to them), but Andy Reid is the Chefest of all the coaches in the entire league. I promise that isn’t an intended fat joke. Completely by accident. I just mean that he wins in the regular season and then farts out in the playoffs. Who does that remind you of? If you said Marty Schottenheimer, give yourself a no prize.
- Chargers: The Chargers are in LA? Really? When did that happen? I guess I need to start paying more attention to this league. Then again, what would become of my “completely ignorant” previews? I think I’ll just settle for being pleasantly surprised by little things like the Chargers being in LA. Okay, preview time. The other team in LA is much more LA than this one, but with Phil Rivers as their QB, they can potentially make some noise.
- Broncos: The last time I paid attention to the Broncos, Peyton Manning was their QB. I’m pretty sure that they had a plan for when he retired, but damned if I know what that plan was. Given that fact, I’m pretty sure that it hasn’t worked out for them and it might be a few years until they’re relevant again. I still think they’re going to be better than the Raiders.
- Raiders: Earlier I mentioned some reason that has people thinking highly of the Raiders. That reason is that Jon Gruden, average coach and below average TV commentator, has taken over as their coach. If this sounds like familiar news, take away the below average TV commentator part of it, and we are 20 years ago. Except we’re all 20 years older. This is the worst episode of Quantum Leap ever.
- Steelers: The Steelers winning the north are only a slightly less sure thing than the Patriots every year. Once in a while, the Bungles or the Rats bubble up and the Steelers have a down year. I don’t think this is that year. While this isn’t my father’s Steelers team, their offense is dynamic as hell and their defense is just good enough to keep teams in check.
- Bungles: The Bungles are the summer reruns of the NFL. Marvin Lewis just keeps on coaching. Andy Dalton just keeps on Andy Daltoning. And that Burfict guy just keeps taking dumb penalties at key points in the game. It’ll all be just enough to keep them in the playoffs discussion for most of the season.
- Rats: The Rats are a mess. While Jimbo sleeps in the treehouses of potential recruits, his brother John has carved out a respectable little legacy down there in Ballamore. However, other than elite quarterback Joe Flacco, what do the Rats really have? Maybe an exciting start followed by a crash back to earth midseason?
- Brownies: According to Simmons and Sal, people are excited about the Brownies. I can only assume this is because people are impressed by what they see on television, no matter the evidence to the contrary. After all, 2016 showed that. Sure, the Brownies have that guy that gave that great speech and the coach that gave the not so great speech, but this is the same team that has gone 1-31 over the last two years. This is not a Cinderella worst to first story waiting to happen.
- Jags: The Jags hold a special place in my heart. Before this year, the last time I was in a fantasy football league, I won the league with Blake Bortles as my starting QB for the entire season. I was not invited back the next year. I also grudgingly respect the Jags for what they were able to do against my Steelers in the playoffs last year and wouldn’t mind a rematch.
- Titans: The Titans are an intriguing team. They’ve taken over the Texans spot as the team from the AFC South that gets the most hype (and maybe even too much). I must be falling for it this year since I think that they could potentially overtake the Jags for first place. All because of Magic Man Mariota.
- Texans: I fell for the Texans hype for a few years. As the previous section shows, I’m now falling for the Titans hype. What’s funny is that with Watson as their quarterback, I should probably like the Texans more than I do. Oh well, if I get too much correct, then I’ll lose my completely ignorant label.
- Colts: Andrew Luck is back, but what does that mean? In a division with 2 potentially very good quarterbacks and one that is passable, will Luck even be that much of a factor for this team? What the heck happened? While we were all busy, the glasses came off of the AFC South and now they’re the beautiful girl we should have seen the whole time.
This doesn’t seem like much of a year for surprises in the AFC. The AFC South has the potential to be very exciting and things might get weird in the AFC West. Oh, heck, what am I saying? Things probably will get weird in the AFC West. Until the Steelers prove that they can beat someone in the playoffs, it’ll probably be the Golden Boy representing in the Super Bowl again this year. Come back in a couple of days (or maybe even tomorrow) for my Completely Ignorant NFC preview. Have to get that and my picks for the first week done before Thursday, after all.