(Editor’s Note: Two years ago I picked the playoffs at the beginning of the playoff season. I only got two games wrong, but one of them was the Super Bowl, so I was a last second interception away from getting that one right. I didn’t do as well last year and might have even been outshined by a coin that goes by the name of George McQuarters. Nevertheless, as with previous years, I have done almost no research for this article other than listening to the Sports Guy and Cousin Sal a couple of times on my commute and I saw one half of one preseason game.)
[spoiler title="TLDR:"]Pats, Chefs, Bungles, Colts I guess?, And because I'm a huge fan of schadenfreude, Giants over Pats to complete the trilogy sweep.[/spoiler]
- New England Patriots – Yes, they have no Brady for the first four games. Sure, we just learned that Gronkenstein will be out for at least the opener. None of it matters. Never mind making a deal with the devil, Belichick is Satan himself and this team will continue to win 10+ games and own this terrible division for the rest of eternity. Eff the Pats.
- Miami Dolphins – Only because I can’t pick the other three teams in this division to be relegated to a lesser league similar to what the Premier League does, I have to put them in some order. The Dolphins played in the one half of one preseason game I watched and I still think Ryan Tannehill could be a decent quarterback with help. Unfortunately, the Dolphins are not equipped to make good football decisions, so he’ll be out of the league in a couple of years and they’ll be selling the ever popular rebuilding year that turns into a decade of misery. Even so, I’m pretty sure they can fake their way to 8-8 and the ever popular “we have next year”.
- New York Jets – Speaking of decade of misery. Sure, they had some successes with Fat Rex and the “Sanchise” (what a cruel joke that turned out to be), but overall it’s been just more irrelevance for yet another New York team. As a resident of Massachusetts, that should give me great joy. I’m a transplant, though, so the joy is vicarious through my father in law who cares much more about this sport than I do.
- BuffaloBills – I watched the “Four Falls of Buffalo” last year with a friend. It was sad and inspiring all at once. I grew up in Erie and, due to the NFL home team rules, we got all of the Buffalo games. I saw the whole thing unfold game by game and year by year. I also saw evidence of a fantasy football draft where a player took Tyrod Taylor on purpose. It clearly affected me in a profound way because I’m still talking about it and I can’t get the image out of my head.
- Kansas City Chefs– Andy Reid is still the coach and Alex Smith is still the quarterback. But, I seem to remember that this team had a good defense and a good running back, even though I couldn’t name a single one of those players if my life depended on it. In the NFL of my and my parent’s youth, a good running game and defense won you games. I’m not sure about this hotsy totsy free wheeling version we have today, but when all else fails, misplaced nostalgia is always a good way to look stupid.
- San Diego Chargers – This is another division where the 3 teams besides the divisino winner are more or less interchangeable. Sure, they all wear different colors to distinguish themselves, but they are like those kids in the college aerial pictures where they all stand together to make something and moms everywhere swear they can see their kid. My point is, who the hell knows or cares who will be #2 in the AFC West?
- Denver Broncos – Because of our impeccable timing, the Broncos had already played and won their first game when this was written. It is being posted after all but the 2 Monday games have been played, but at least it is not the NFC article, which will be posted after all the first games have been played. Spoiler alerts abound for those in an alternate universe who are reading this one time. However, I have the sneaking suspicion that their 7th round quarterback won’t work out as well as another certain 7th round quarterback who shall remain nameless. The scourge has been lifted from the land and there is no reason to be the one to unleash it. Point is, Manning (even a terrible Manning) to what’s his face is quite the drop off and might take some time for success.
- Los Angeles (or are they back in Oakland?) Raiders – The Raiders are another successful team from my youth. As we saw with the bills, though, misguided nostalgia only goes so far and the ghost of Al Davis still haunts this team. Until they prove otherwise, I will just assume that they have drafted Darius Heyward Bey in the first round every year.
- Cincinnati Bungles – I don’t have any compelling reason to pick the Bungles over the Steelers other than in an attempt to reverse jinx them. The Steelers were driving to beat the Broncos in the playoffs last year with a contest winner starting at running back and the Bungles did their best to lose their only playoff game…to the Steelers.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers ahve gone from not even having a shotgun package in their offense when I was younger to running a spread pass happy offense with 2 of the top 5 receivers in the league. Oh, they also have a good running back. Even so, some of those guys get in trouble or injured yearly and that always keeps the team from achieving Pats like success. Oh well, it is still good to be a Steelers fan.
- Baltimore Rats – It’s certainly better to be a Steelers fan than a Rats fan right now. Even though they have “elite” quarterback Joe Flacco, they were terrible last year. I don’t see any indication that they have done anything to fix that this year.
- Cleveland Browns – It is always better to be a Steelers fan than a Browns fan. No more Johnny Football. Instead, they have a rejuvenated (again we’re going with this storyline?) RGIII. The only difference that I see is maybe their quarterback won’t post as many drunken Instagram photos. Will that translate into a better team? Hopefully not, because as a Steelers fan, it is too much fun picking on the Browns and their fans.
- Indy Colts -How bad is the NFL when you can disregard nearly 90% of the league as a potential threat before the season even starts? What’s worse is that entire divisions can be ignored. Ever since Peyton left the Colts, that’s been the fate of the AFC South. Who cares who wins this division? They’ll just lose in the wild card round.
- Houston Texans – I spent 2 or 3 seasons on the Texans bandwagon. I kept thinking that they’d be able to ride their defense and a mediocre quarterback to a title similar to how Denver did last year. They never did and now I see why. They are simply one of the nameless, faceless AFC South teams, doomed to obscurity.
- Tennessee Titans – Seriously, does anyone actually know the difference between these teams? They remind me of the old WWF (wrestling, not pandas) jobbers that they’d trot out to face more established wrestlers to ensure that the storylines weren’t ruined before the big pay per view. The Titans are Iron Mike Sharp, Rest in Peace.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Since nobody cares about these teams, I will just take this space to tell one of my long winded and maybe not so relevant stories for which I’m famous. While listening to Simmons and Sal, they both agreed that Blaine Gabbard (That’s not even the Jags QB name. He’s Blake Bortles.) is not very good at football. “Hey,” I shouted at my phone, “that’s my fantasy football championship quarterback that you’re demeaning there!” And, therein lies the allure of the league for 80% of fans.
Join me tomorrow (and pretend that we live in one of the alternate universes where the first week hasn’t happened yet) for the NFC portion of the preview.