Nothing like an arbitrary power poll based on no system whatsoever, right? The AFC remains a conference stacked with mediocrity, however we are starting to get an idea of what the playoff race is going to look like throughout November and December. Voice your disagreements in the comments section or over on Facebook or Twitter -
SUPER BOWL CONTENDER
1. Houston (7-1) - A balanced team, who can beat you in a number of ways. It is still hard to trust Matt Schaub in a big spot until he wins a few big games though. Regardless, they should cruise to the AFC South title and a bye.
2. Pittsburgh (5-3) - Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Nobody could watch the past few weeks and honestly say they haven’t looked substantially better than the banged up Ravens. Pittsburgh has a Super Bowl winning QB playing a high level and a Super Bowl winning coach, along with enough playmakers to make noise in January. Look for them to win the AFC North, despite currently being a game behind Baltimore.
3. New England (5-3) - Won’t win their regular 12-13 games but they won’t need to in the AFC East this season. Not sure if they end up getting a bye because of how soft Denver’s schedule is down the stretch and the fact that they still have to play Houston, San Francisco, Miami twice and the Jets once.
4. Denver (5-3) - Looking at their schedule, hard not to see them finishing at least 11-5 and likely getting a first round bye. You also get the feeling that Peyton Manning is only going to get better down the stretch.
NOT QUITE THERE YET
5. Baltimore (6-2) - Too many injuries. They are still going to be a playoff team in this conference but don’t expect them to finish strong enough to take the AFC North crown.
6. Indianapolis (5-3) - A feel good story. They haven’t proven they could win on the road consistently yet and they have a fairly difficult second half schedule. Regardless a 4-4 finish likely gets them enough wins to sneak in as a wild-card.
7. Miami (4-4) - A popular playoff pick for many pundits but with two games left against New England, a road trip to San Francisco and a game against Seattle still on the schedule, don’t bank on them getting there.
8. San Diego (4-4) - Could very well see them losing their next 5 games (at TB, at DEN, vs. BAL, vs. CIN, at PIT) and Norv Turner getting fired after as the house cleaning starts in December.
9. New York Jets (3-5) - Their next three games are brutal before the schedule softens up. They likely dug themselves too big of a hole to make any real noise in the playoff race.
10. Cincinnati (3-5) - Outside of AJ Green, they don’t have much going for them on either side of the ball. The schedule isn’t friendly enough for them to even be a .500 team.
11. Oakland (3-5) - How is that Carson Palmer trade looking these days? Oakland needs to dump him and anybody who remains in the organization who thought it was a remotely good idea.
12. Buffalo (3-5) - The worst offensive contract in football belongs to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The worst defensive contract in football belongs to Mario Williams. Oh and they need a new defensive coordinator and head coach.
13. Tennessee (3-6) - What is this team’s identity? They are looking at a disappointing drop off from last year’s surprise 8-8 record.
14. Cleveland (2-7) - They can build around Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon on offense. Outside of that, it is time to clean house.
15. Jacksonville (1-7) - TEEEE-BOWWWW
16. Kansas City (1-7) - Crennel and Cassel. How did anybody pick this team to win more than 4 games this year?