The AFC is bad in 2017. But how bad is it?
To start the Jacksonville Jaguars are the third best team in the conference.
The 4-6 Los Angeles Chargers would only be underdogs against the Patriots, Steelers and Jaguars on a neutral field based off my numbers.
The New York Jets somehow have four wins.
The Texans and Dolphins are power rated by me in the bottom seven of the entire league but are only one game out of a playoff spot.
The Buffalo Bills are right in the middle of the playoff standings despite getting crushed in three straight games.
Below is a chart of my power ratings for just the 16 AFC teams with their record after Week 11:
The Patriots and Steelers are two of the top three teams in the entire league. The Jaguars have an edge over the Chiefs and Chargers for third best in the AFC.
To compare it to the NFC, I would install the Eagles, Saints, Rams, Vikings and Panthers as a favorite over the Jaguars on a neutral field. The Falcons and Seahawks play tonight on Monday but they would be right at a pick ’em price against Jacksonville. The Cowboys would’ve also been above the Jaguars before they lost three of their most important players.
Hopefully this helps breakdown the weakness of this conference especially compared to the NFC, which is loaded this season. Here are some comments about all 16 AFC teams:
Patriots: The offense is rolling and the defense has played much better. I would currently have the Patriots as a five-point favorite against the Steelers in a potential AFC Championship Game in Foxboro.
Steelers: The most talented team in the league for me. Their no-show and almost loss to the Colts is typical under Tomlin. Following it up with a onslaught at home against the Titans was also not a surprise. I think Steelers would be a small favorite if they hosted the Patriots right now. The Week 15 game against New England could be huge for home field.
Jaguars: The defense is legit and they really have committed to the run game. But having this team as third best in the conference with Blake Bortles under center seems absurd but it’s perfectly fair.
Chiefs: They have lost four of five games after starting 5-0. Losing off a bye to a Giants team that has seemingly quit is a huge concern. Kansas has become predictable on offense and the defense is overmatched against superior teams. Looks like they’ll win one playoff game at best.
Chargers: So many painful losses but this team is starting to show how talented I thought they would be. Really good pass rush and cornerbacks. The offense is full of weapons but they can’t win close games. The timing of playing the Cowboys this week is optimal so the over 7.5 wins pick is still alive with six games to play. If they could only have the Dolphins and Jaguars games back.
Titans: Thought this team would take the next step this season but it’s hard to see them threatening any of the top teams in the AFC. They were overmatched on Thursday in Pittsburgh. They’re still in a good spot to make the playoffs but I have no interest in betting on them as favorites.
Raiders: Under 9.5 wins looks like the season win total bet of the season as they are 4-6. Still have a shot at the playoffs but this season has proved how lucky they were in 2016.
Ravens: I will make them the favorites to get a playoff spot after the improved to 5-5. The quarterbacks they have beat in their five wins are Andy Dalton, DeShone Kizer, EJ Manuel, Matt Moore and Brett Hundley. They also lost by 37 to the Jaguars and were defeated by Mitch Trubisky in his first career road start. It’s still a below average team but they will likely be favorites in four or five of their last six games.
Bengals: Really disappointing season but they have some life after winning in Denver. Crazy to think they closed as a four-point underdog in Pittsburgh four weeks ago.
Bills: Have to think they go back to Tyrod Taylor. If not you can lower them more in the power ratings. The defense has been horrible too.
Jets: As long as Josh McCown keeps playing, they will have a shot to win some games.
Broncos: I was down on the Broncos going into the season and looked totally wrong after four weeks. Since then they have lost six straight and their offense is unwatchable. Maybe Paxton Lynch will start soon and provide hope for the future.
Dolphins: Still don’t know how this team has won four games, including a huge comeback in Atlanta. America got to see how bad they are when they got three straight national tv games. Everyone knew their 2016 playoff season was fraudulent and I’m not sure they’ll win another game this season.
Texans: If Deshaun Watson is healthy then they might be AFC South favorites and the third best team in the conference. Instead they are the third worst team in the AFC with Tom Savage under center and cluster injuries on the defense.
Colts: Jacoby Brissett has been a pleasant surprise but they need a few good drafts.
Browns: The best 0-10 team ever?