This week’s edition of the 12 pack is going to rank the top teams in the AFC, including sorting out where our New York Jets fit in heading into training camp. For your requisite Friday reminders before you crack into your 12 pack of reading and 12 pack of drinking, remember to follow myself, Chris Gross, Mike Donnelly, and TJ Rosenthal on Twitter. Nobody out there is rolling with four stronger Jets writers right now, period. Also remember to check out Gameday Goods, where you get 10% off any product by using the promo code “TurnOnTheJets.” Finally, sit tight on those t-shirts, they are on their way along with enough giveaways to make your head spin.
On to the 12 pack -
16. Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck is going to be a special player one day but he has been put in the middle of a rebuilding process. The Colts won’t be 2 win bad this season but won’t be much better. The Jets see them in week 6 at MetLife Stadium. Bring the blitz, Rex.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars - Blaine Gabbert with Chad Henne waiting in the wings…yikes. The defense and Maurice Jones-Drew will keep them competitive in most weeks but ultimately they will be battling with the Colts for the basement in the AFC South. The Jets travel to them in week 14. I am calling for more Tebow fans than Jaguars fans in the crowd.
14. Cleveland Browns - Poor Cleveland. That being said, we disagree with Jim Brown and think Trent Richardson is anything but ordinary. But, what does he know about running backs anyway?
13. Miami Dolphins - Picturing David Garrard under center on a 3rd and 9 with Chad Ochocinco, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess split out and wondering how the hell are they going to convert…ever?
12. Oakland Raiders - Not a believer in Carson Palmer and not sure if Darren McFadden can stay healthy.
11. Kansas City Chiefs - Wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up being a playoff team and wouldn’t be surprised if they were 4-12. It depends on how Matt Cassel manages the offense and how Jamaal Charles bounces back from his injury.
10. San Diego Chargers - I am sure I will hear I put them too low but what exactly have they won lately? The last time they were in the playoffs was when Shonn Greene was actually breaking long runs. The Jets host them in week 16 for Sunday Night Football.
9. Buffalo Bills - Everybody else can pile on their bandwagon. Ryan Fitzpatrick is their quarterback. Chan Gailey is their coach. They can’t win in their division and they can’t stretch the field. The Jets start and end their season with them.
8. Tennessee Titans - How quick of a hook will Matt Hasselbeck have? The Titans quietly put together a good off-season and should make some noise in the AFC South. The Jets travel to them for Monday Night Football in week 15 in what could be an elimination game for a wild-card spot.
7. New York Jets - They are going to be in plenty of close games this season, how they finish in the fourth quarter will determine if they are 7-9 or 11-5.
6. Cincinnati Bengals - I don’t know if Andy Dalton and AJ Green will have a sophomore slump or if it is foolish to believe Marvin Lewis can coach a winning team for two years in a row but they deserve the respect heading into the season.
5. Denver Broncos - Maybe I am giving too much respect to Peyton Manning but if he is anywhere near healthy, Denver is going to be very tough with that kind of defense to support him.
4. Pittsburgh Steelers - Interested to see how the Todd Haley/Ben Roethlisberger marriage is going to work out but you know they are going have a very good defense and they are loaded at wide receiver. Jets play them week 2 on the road in what will be some kind of test for Tony Sparano’s new offense.
3. Houston Texans - On paper they might be the best team in the conference but can that defense play at the level they did last season? If so, they are going to be very hard to beat. They come to MetLife Stadium for Monday Night Football in week 5.
2. Baltimore Ravens - They should have won in New England last season for the AFC Championship Game. Can they get themselves back to that level? Much of that will depend on how Joe Flacco keeps developing and if they can replace Terrell Suggs adequately. Fortunately, the Jets don’t play them this season as they have suffered two ugly losses to them since Rex Ryan has taken over.
1. New England Patriots - They keep the top spot until somebody knocks them off. Unfortunately for the Jets, the Brady/Belichick combination basically guarantees 11-13 wins a season. Interested to see how new additions like Brandon Lloyd, Joseph Addai, Chandler Jones, and Dont’a Hightower fit in. The Jets play them in week 7 and then on Thanksgiving night.