The 2019 NFL season is about to start, and fans of all 32 teams are excited. Obviously, some teams have better chances than others at a winning the Super Bowl, but which teams? Here, I’ll take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for each team in the AFC.
New England Patriots
Best – Super Bowl Champions: As usual, the Patriots are Super Bowl contenders. As long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are at the helm, they have a chance to win it all.
Worst – 9-7: I can’t envision a scenario where they fall below .500. However, if Brady’s age starts to show, they could struggle to make the playoffs. Rob Gronkowski is gone, and they will need to rely on the likes of Philip Dorsett and Josh Gordon to have big years.
New York Jets
Best – 10-6 Playoffs: The Jets are on the verge of making noise in the AFC East. Sam Darnold is the key, of course, but the defense could be really good, and Le’Veon Bell was added to the offense. They spent in free agency and it could pay off.
Worst – 5-11: It’s been a while since Bell was in an NFL game, and Darnold is exciting, but not a sure thing. If those two struggle, and the defense can’t generate a consistent pass rush, it’ll be a long year.
Best – 8-8: The offense is the question mark here. Josh Allen’s accuracy is still a concern. They’re relying on a 36-year old Frank Gore or a rookie at running back. Their pass catchers are iffy. They’re up-and-coming, but not ready quite yet.
Worst – 4-12: Offensively, the Bills could be a bust if things don’t come together. Allen can’t complete just half of his passes again. They will need a defense that is young to come together.
Best – 4-12: There’s not a lot to look forward to in 2019 in Miami. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, it really doesn’t matter. They might manage a few games where they squeak out wins.
Worst – 0-16: The Dolphins are rebuilding and it’s going to show this year. There are very few top tier players on the roster, and they could struggle to win a single game.
Best – Super Bowl: The Browns have provided the blueprint for rebuilding teams for the near future. Baker Mayfield is already a star, and they’ve given him even more weapons. If the newcomers all gel, this offense could be lethal.
Worst – 8-8: A bad offensive line can sink a ship quickly and it’s the Cleveland’s biggest question. If Mayfield gets knocked around, it could ruin a potentially great season.
Best – Deep playoff run: A terrific offensive line protects an aging, but still great quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. The other side of the ball boasts some really good young talents in TJ Watt, Devin Bush, and Javon Hargrave. There’s no reason to think they can’t play into January.
Worst – 7-9: Losing an all-time great at receiver hurts, and after Juju Smith-Schuster, there are big questions. The secondary has been rough for a few seasons, and didn’t change much. That could be a problem if the offense isn’t as potent as years past.
Best – 10-6: The Ravens made a somewhat improbable in 2018 behind rookie Lamar Jackson. In 2019, he’ll have to be even better and become a threat as a passer. Mark Ingram was added to the offense, which is an upgrade. Earl Thomas was added to the defense.
Worst – 6-10: Outside of the tight ends, somebody has to become a receiving threat if Jackson is going to take a step forward. If not, and Jackson regresses, they could be bad. The loss of CJ Mosley hurts on the other side of the ball.
Best – 8-8: Running back Joe Mixon leads an offense that can compete when everything is right. Carl Lawson is back to rush the passer on defense, and Jessie Bates and William Jackson III lead a solid secondary. If the offensive line can be average, .500 is attainable.
Worst – 5-11: There is no real reason to think the offensive line will be better than it was last year, when it was awful. Andy Dalton struggles when pressured, which is likely will be again. AJ Green is hurt again too. The linebackers are largely the same group that stunk in 2018.
Best – 11-5: With the addition of Laremy Tunsil, the Texans at least addressed their biggest weakness. Deshaun Watson can be a star if they can keep him off his back. If a running back steps up, and they can find a pass rusher to replace Jadeveon Clowney, they could be dangerous.
Worst – 7-9: Aside from Tunsil, the rest of the line is an issue. There is injury risk for Watson. The defense could be ugly if they don’t get a few guys to step up.
Best – 10-6: Marcus Mariota seemed on the verge of stardom a few years ago, and he still could take off. He’ll need Corey Davis to reach his peak though. The offensive line is solid once Taylor Lewan returns from suspension.
Worst – 7-9: If Mariota under-performs again, they’re in trouble. The defense is good, but the offense has to be more dynamic or they’re going to be in a lot of close games.
Best – 9-7: The Colts were the surprise team of 2018, and even with Andrew Luck’s retirement, still have a ton of talented pieces. The offensive line is fantastic and will give Jacoby Brissett every chance to succeed. Justin Houston could be a great addition to the defense.
Worst – 5-11: Luck’s retirement changes the entire shape of the AFC South. Brissett has been preparing to start all off-season, but he’s no sure thing. If he struggles, and/or the defense takes a step back, it could be a very long season for a team expecting to contend just a few weeks ago.
Best – 9-7: The Jaguars defense will be asked to shut opposing offenses down so they can win low-scoring games. They’re loaded on that side of the ball, and if Nick Foles can avoid turnovers and be just a little better than Blake Bortles, they can win the division.
Worst – 4-12: Foles was a terrific backup, and was a great story in winning the Super Bowl, but there’s no evidence he will be a great starter. The offense could be one of the league’s worst if Foles struggles and Leonard Fournette can’t figure it out.
Kansas City Chiefs
Best – Super Bowl: If Patrick Mahomes is healthy, the Chiefs are Super Bowl contenders. Tyreek Hill is nearly unstoppable, and Andy Ried and his staff are terrific. This offense could put up ridiculous numbers.
Worst – 10-6: The worst case for the Chiefs is that the defense is no better, and the Chargers beat them out in the division, leaving the Chiefs battling for a Wild Card spot. The D was addressed, but has to be much better than 2018.
Los Angeles Chargers
Best – Super Bowl: Philip Rivers is a Hall of Fame quarterback and he has weapons, especially with Hunter Henry back. The defense is dangerous, with playmakers at every level. Melvin Ingram continues to be underrated.
Worst – 9-7: Melvin Gordon was a big part of the offense, and they’re relying on unproven guys to replace his production. If they get into the playoffs, they have to overcome a history of postseason eggs laid.
Best – 9-7: The Broncos defense, led by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb is going to dangerous for opposing quarterbacks. If the offense can find some offense behind the ghost of Joe Flacco, they could be in the Wild Card hunt.
Worst – 6-10: Flacco hasn’t been good for a bit, and the offense could struggle. The Broncos defense has a couple of new pieces in the secondary and will need them to improve the passing defense from a year ago..
Best – 8-8: The Raiders are giving Derek Carr a final chance to succeed by adding Antonio Brown and Josh Jacobs to the offense. The offense has the potential to be better. If the line comes together, a .500 record isn’t that crazy.
Worst – 3-13: Brown has been a headcase for a while now, and could bring as much drama as he does touchdowns. The offensive line could struggle, and the explosive personalities added (Brown, Vontaze Burfict, Richie Incognito) could be a distraction. They could be a disaster.