In the AFC, you can never count out the New England Patriots. Even when Tom Brady went down with a season ending knee injury the Patriots were still as competitive as can be with Matt Cassel stepping in for the future hall of famer.
Although the Patriots will be competitive again with a healthy Brady there are definitely some teams in the AFC that should not go overlooked.
The defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those teams. With a relatively painless offseason thus far and the team still intact the Steelers will be looking to repeat and have a good chance to do so. As usual, one of the most exciting matchups this season will be the Steelers vs Ravens.
Here are the other teams in the AFC that will be playoff contenders next season (one from each division):
Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens
Here are my reasons:
Colts- Peyton Manning! With Peyton behind center the Colts will always be contenders.
Raiders- The AFC West is the worst division in football right now and the Raiders are the only team with promise in a good young core of players. This will be the season they break out of the funk.
Bills- Although some people disagree getting TO was huge for the Bills. Not only will there offense be hard to stop with two star receivers, a promising young quarterback and Marshall Lynch in the backfield, but they are well coached and poised to have a breakout season.
The NFC on the other hand is another beast altogether. The Arizona Cardinals will be good, but not as good as last season. The Dallas Cowboys may have dropped some baggage, but this will be a make or break season for Tony Romo.
Here are the teams I see making an impact in the NFC this time around:
Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, 49ers, Chicago Bears
Here are my reasons:
Falcons- Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White! Nuff said.
Cowboys- Do or die! If the Cowboys are going to stay in the title contender picture they will need to come together. This will be the season that defines them and I think they will come through.
49ers- Kind of a sleeper pick here, but I am sticking with it for two reasons. One: Mike Singletary first full season. Two: Mark Sanchez at quarterback (if they can get him)
Bears- Although the defense was suspect last season, this year everything is going to come together for Chicago. Not only will the defense get back to it's stingy ways, but with Jay Cutler in the offense this team could be scary!