Turn On The Jets AFC Mid-Season Power Rankings

Turn On The Jets mid-season power poll for the AFC, a conference filled with mediocrity

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.

CRAP-TASTIC

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.

FIRING SQUAD

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.

BOTTOMING OUT

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?

New York Jets – Can They Remain A Factor In Mediocre AFC?

Can the New York Jets remain a factor in the increasingly mediocre AFC?

In case you haven’t noticed, the 2012 AFC is a breeding ground of mediocrity. Through six weeks, only two teams are over .500 (Baltimore and Houston, both at 5-1) and there are seven teams sitting at 3-3. Beyond that, you have eight teams under .500, including five teams who are already at least two games under. Let’s take a quick, semi-serious look at the flaws with every team –

Houston (5-1) – They just lost Brian Cushing for the season and were stomped out in their own building by the Green Bay Packers. They barely scrapped by the Jets as they were acclimating about 6 new players to full time roles. When has Matt Schaub ever won an important game? Seriously, name one.

Baltimore (5-1) – No Lardarius Webb (a huge on field loss). No Ray Lewis (a huge locker room loss). Terrell Suggs still not all the way healthy and Haloti Ngata is banged up. They are almost entirely reliant on their offense right now. Is Joe Flacco really on that level yet? He has shown signs but did also only score 9 points against the Chiefs who couldn’t beat 11 sobbing Jason Whitlocks right now.

Jets (3-3) – Of course, I am listing them before all the other 3-3 teams not based any specific criteria just because this is a Jets website after all. I won’t go into the Jets flaws here because I do that every single day and night (check for our articles later today!)

Patriots (3-3) – Marquice Cole might be the best player in their secondary right now. Also they manage their games like you would if you played your little brother in Madden. Basically, you have Belichick and Brady keeping a Joe Biden sh*t eating grin on their face until they get an intentional grounding and a 10 second run off before the half so they can’t kick a field goal…and then lose by 1 point.

Denver (3-3) – You can’t fall behind 3 touchdowns and win every week because you can’t play Philip Rivers and Norv Turner every week. Their running backs are awful and their defense is criminally overrated (trust me, I know a criminally overrated defense when I see one…look at the team I cover).

San Diego (3-3) – Can’t wait until they finish 8-8 and somehow bring back Norv, their GM and Rivers for one more run! Remember, insanity is the definition of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

Buffalo (3-3) – Mario Williams is the most overpaid player in football. Their defense is thoroughly atrocious  They are a lock to go 1-5 in the AFC East. Oh and their fans will be seeing this sign on their way to games in a few years…

Miami (3-3) – Not sold on the Tannehill-Hartline love fest yet. Despite beating powerhouses like Oakland, St. Louis and Cincinnati who promptly turned around and got whipped by 0-5 Cleveland. Also Reggie Bush is inevitably going to get hurt.

Cincinnati (3-3) – AJ Green is a fantasy God-send. Seriously, he is more consistent than intense stomach pains after a meal at PF Changs. Unfortunately, Andy Dalton has never beat a team over .500 in his life. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not a lead back and their defense has taken a major step back.

Pittsburgh (2-3) – Outside of their passing game, they don’t do anything particularly well any more. Their defense is old and slow. Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Bryan Thomas and Bart Scott would fit right in.

Indianapolis (2-3) – They won’t win more than 2 games on the road this season. No matter how many “LOOK AT THE POISE!” articles on Andrew Luck are written, he is still a rookie working with a suspect supporting cast.

Cleveland (1-5) – Most accurate description of a sports city possible –

Oakland (1-4) – If the Raiders traded two 7th round picks for Carson Palmer they would have overpaid. Nevermind what they actually paid for him.

Tennessee (2-4) – Matt Hasselbeck is still better than Jake Locker, which isn’t a good sign for the long term health of this franchise. Chris Johnson. (Nothing else needs to be added).

Jacksonville (1-4) – Are we surprised it looks like they overpaid for Laurent Robinson and that Blaine Gabbert is still awful? Would they still take Tebow for a 3rd round pick?

Kansas City (1-5) – Brady Quinn! Peyton Hillis! Dontari Poe! Jonathan Baldwin! BOOOO!!!!!!!

So where do the New York Jets fit into this cluster of mediocrity heading into week 7? Fortunately, in the division they are off to a good start by being 2-0 where tie-breakers will be of enormous importance. They have played both San Francisco and Houston already while New England has played neither and Buffalo and Miami have only played one apiece. Their schedule for the rest of the season doesn’t make it implausible to think they could grab 9 wins in a conference where 9 wins could equal a division title and 8 wins could equal a wild-card spot.

Ultimately their success this year will depend on how the new parts acclimate to extended playing time. Rex Ryan appears to have recognized the shortcomings on his base defense and looks to be using more varied looks and personnel. The Jets need players like Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush to grow on the job while players like Antonio Cromartie, David Harris and Muhammad Wilkerson provide leadership and supply elevated levels of play that matches their talent.

On offense, Mark Sanchez needs to get the most out of his young group of receivers, starting this week in New England. We will get into this more tomorrow when we discuss offensive and defense game plans but the Jets must throw the ball down the field against the Patriots brutal secondary. This is the type of game they drafted Stephen Hill for and one that Jeremy Kerley, who is turning into a serious playmaker, should thrive in.

Obviously the running game must also remain effective. We have been harshly critical of Shonn Greene’s performance on this site in recent weeks because the film dictated that type of criticism. Greene broke out last week, thanks to better vision, a surprising amount of broken tackles, stronger run blocking and a weak run defense. Greene will shoulder a big load again this week and likely  next week while Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell are recovering from injuries. He must continue performing, to give balance to the Jets offense and open up the play action passing game. Proper use of Tim Tebow should also enhance a running game that has been struggling.

The Jets are facing a pivotal part of their schedule with two upcoming division games. They have an ability to take a stranglehold on the AFC East by winning their next two or an ability to dig themselves in a hole with losses in both. Realistically, a split should be the goal and would set them up well for a second half that features games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, St. Louis and San Diego at home in December.

This is a flawed team in a conference of flawed teams. There is an opportunity to create a little separation from the pack and gain a little respect with a win this week. Let’s see if the Jets are up to it.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: Ranking The AFC

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack ranks the AFC’s best teams heading into the season

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 GrossMike 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 – 

Just Missed

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.

2Baltimore 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.

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NFL Week 15: Playoff Picture Remains Blurry

With three games to go, the NFL picture remains blurry

There are only three games left in the 2011 NFL season. Where did the time go? Despite heading into week 15, 21 teams technically remain alive for a playoff spot and we are only sure about one thing when it comes to seeding, that Green Bay will be number one in the NFC. Let’s take a closer look —

AFC

  1. Houston (10-3)
  2. Baltimore (10-3)
  3. New England (10-3)
  4. Denver (8-5)
  5. Pittsburgh (10-3)
  6. New York Jets (8-5)
  7. Tennessee (7-6)
  8. Cincinnati (7-6)
  9. Oakland (7-6)
  10. San Diego (6-7)

The battle for a bye and the NFC North title should prevent Houston, New England, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh from resting any starters in the coming weeks. Denver looks to be in the driver’s seat for the AFC West, considering how Oakland has looked in the previous two weeks. San Diego is technically still lingering around in the West but Baltimore could end that this weekend. In terms of the wild-card, the Jets control their own destiny but have three very losable games approaching on the schedule. Cincinnati and Tennessee still have a good shot if they could win out, but that could be more difficult than it initially looked. Pretty funny that if the season ended today, the Jets would be traveling to New England for wild-card weekend.

NFC

  1. Green Bay (13-0)
  2. San Francisco (10-3)
  3. New Orleans (10-3)
  4. New York Giants (7-6)
  5. Atlanta (8-5)
  6. Detroit (8-5)
  7. Chicago (7-6)
  8. Dallas (7-6)
  9. Seattle (6-7)
  10. Arizona (6-7)
  11. Philadelphia (5-8)

We are going to learn plenty about San Francisco this Monday night against Pittsburgh. Their battle with New Orleans for a bye should be interesting to watch. The Giants are in the driver’s seat now for the NFC East and would be dangerous in the playoffs because of how well Eli Manning is playing. Atlanta, Detroit, and Dallas will battle it out for the last spot but all three feel like one and done type teams. Yes, Eagles fans are still counting on running the table and the Giants and Dallas losing two of their last three so they could sneak in.

Recapping A Successful Jets Sunday: We’re Going Streaking!

TOJ on the Jets prospects for continuing their steak to an improbable playoff spot

Sometimes you just have one of those Sundays where everything breaks the right way. Today was one of those days for the New York Jets. Left for dead at 5-5, the Jets have put together three straight wins and received the necessary help along the way to make the following reality: win their last three games and make the playoffs. It took an unbelievable comeback from Houston and a last second stop from New Orleans, but the help was given.

The next three games won’t be nearly as easy as the last three, but the opportunity is there and the road starts next Sunday in Philadelphia. Here are the current AFC standings, with the tie-breakers:

Yes, the Jets might be able to get in as a 10-6 team but considering how their tie-breakers are looking, it isn’t likely. It is probably coming down to the Jets continuing to streak…all the way to six straight wins to put themselves in the postion of being the AFC’s final wild card team, which as of right now would put them in New England in the first round. How about that match-up?

Do they have three more wins in them?

Halfway There: Jets Destroy Chiefs, Move Closer To Playoffs

The New York Jets destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs and thanks to some help moved much closer to a playoff spot

The real drama so far today didn’t take place inside MetLife Stadium where the New York Jets steamrolled the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-10. It took place in Cincinnati, where T.J. Yates produced a game winning touchdown drive in the final seconds to give Houston a victory and in Tennessee where the Saints defense held at the end of the game, to escape with a 22-17 win. The Jets took care of their business and received the help they need. It will only take either a Green Bay win over Oakland (they are up 14-0 as I type this) or a Chicago win over Denver to control their playoff destiny.

Let’s talk about that business that the Jets handled today. Offense? They went right down the field on the first drive for a touchdown and tacked on three more in the first half to make this one a laugher by the time the teams hit the locker room after the second quarter. It is December, when the games matter more, so you know Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene were bringing their “A” game. Sanchez went 13/21 for 181 yards with 2 touchdowns and also tacked on 2 rushing touchdowns for good measure. Greene continued his recent tear, rushing for 129 yards on 24 carries with another touchdown. He also added 58 yards receiving.

You have to give Brian Schottenheimer credit for the game plan today, which made good use of the screen game and his running backs as receivers. LaDainian Tomlinson added 50 receiving yards and a touchdown. Dustin Keller was involved early with 4 first half receptions and Santonio Holmes caught his 7th touchdown of the season. The only complaint could be on a pair of first half sacks allowed. The offensive line must be more consistent, with the Eagles and Giants pass rush on the horizon.

On defense. There isn’t much to it. The Jets completed dominated an inept Kansas City offense. They finished with five sacks, a safety and an interception. Unfortunately, the interception came at the price of liking losing safety Jim Leonhard to an ankle injury for the rest of the season. This will be a difficult injury to overcome, considering how reliable he is on punt return and his knowledge of the defense at safety. It will be on Jeremy Kerley to step up as a punt returner and not muff any kicks and on Brodney Pool and Eric Smith to handle an extended roll on defense.

Thanks to a timely 3 game winning streak. The Jets are a 6-1 team at home and will now very likely sit in complete control of their destiny when it comes to making the playoffs. What else can you ask for at this point of the year, considering some of the losses they have suffered this season?

Week 14 Is When New York Jets Can Make Their Move

This Sunday is going to go a long way towards telling us just how realistic it is for the New York Jets to make the playoffs

Picture this scenario for the New York Jets: at about 7 PM this Sunday night, they sit at 8-5 and in complete control of their own playoff destiny. If they win out, they will be in. No scoreboard watching. No worrying about another team giving them help.

It isn’t that far fetched.

The New York Jets host the Kansas City Chiefs at 1 PM, in a game that they should win. Considering how stingy the Chiefs D has been and their ability to run the football. This will be far from a walkover but you would hope in the end, a Rex Ryan defense will triumph over Tyler Palko.

Let’s then take a look at who the other 7-5 teams in the AFC are playing.

Fresh off the whooping they took in Miami, Oakland must travel to face the Green Bay Packers. I don’t think it is a leap to think that the Raiders won’t be ending Green Bay’s hope for a perfect season. Tebow Christ and Denver will be hosting Chicago, in a game they probably should win to take control of the AFC West.

The Cincinnati Bengals host the Houston Texans. Most of us had assumed the Texans would begin to fall off with T.J. Yates under center but their defense and running game has been good enough to keep them afloat. Cincinnati looks they are starting to feel the injuries on their roster and may be ready to fall off. It would be a decent upset if they knocked off Houston, considering how poor they looked against Pittsburgh last week. Jets fans need to be pulling hard for the Texans because the Bengals have the Rams and Cardinals coming up after and there is no guarantee their week 17 game against Baltimore will be difficult, as the Ravens could be resting starters.

The Tennessee Titans have looked like a legitimate threat these past two weeks but host the red hot Saints at home this Sunday. Similar to the Bengals scenario, this is the hardest game left on the Titans schedule. After playing the Saints, they have Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Houston in what could be a meaningless game.

In summary, the Jets need to handle their business and hope New Orleans, Houston, and Green Bay do the same as favorites. If that happens, the Jets playoff destiny will be in their own hands. If it doesn’t, the Jets are going to need major help and major upsets down the stretch.

Jets Season At A Crossroads

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A little dramatic in the title?

I don’t think so.

The reality of the situation is this, the Jets season is going to head in to two very different directions depending on the result of Monday night’s game.

A win equals a 2 game lead on the Patriots with 4 games left to play. Unless the Jets meltdown in the last quarter of the season, they are looking at a #1 or #2 seed, a first round bye and a home playoff game in the divisional round of the playoffs. You can’t ask for a better road to the Super Bowl and the organization is way overdue on hosting a playoff game.

A loss? The Jets fall to the all too familiar position of chasing New England. They could have 1 or 2 games to make up depending on how the rest of the division schedule plays out, but realistically it would be very unlikely for the Jets to catch the Patriots, which means a trip back into the wild card.

The road to the Super Bowl then likely involves a first round trip to either Indianapolis or San Diego. Do you want to deal with Peyton Manning  in the first round? I don’t. Beyond that, a victory will result in a trip to either New England, Pittsburgh, or Baltimore.

Yes, it is a little dangerous to put all your eggs in the basket of a week 13 game and yes it would absolutely to be an exaggeration to say the Jets 2010 season was in major trouble with a loss. However, the opportunity is there to jump in the driver’s seat of not just the AFC East but of the entire conference and great teams take advantage of those opportunities.

So for once, can the Jets avoid doing it the hard way?

Trying To Make Sense Out Of A Senseless NFL

mark sanchez jets Pictures, Images and Photos

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Parity is a beautiful thing in the NFL. It helps makes the slate of games every week unpredictable and always throw you an “are you ‘effing kid me” game or two each weekend. It is a large part of why a Jaguars/Titans turd fest on Monday Night Football, featuring Trent Edwards at quarterback could easily get higher rating than the Yankees and Rangers in the ALCS. I do know that through seven weeks, it is nearly impossible to see where this season is headed, particularly in the NFC.

You get a team like the Giants who look ready for 6-10 and a coaching change after back to back early losses and now they are the consensus top team in the NFC. Dallas, Green Bay, and New Orleans were easily the top three picks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl heading into season, yet could anybody pick any of those three teams with any type of confidence now? Dallas could end up with the first pick in the draft the way they are headed. The Saints can’t even keep it close against the Cleveland Browns in their own building.

The Colts have more holes than ever around Peyton Manning and keep dropping like flies. The Broncos go toe to toe with the Jets and then make the Raiders look like a a juggernaut by allowing a 59 spot to them. The Bengals and Chargers have been major disappointments.

Here is what I am thinking moving forward –

Despite the Chiefs and Seahawks looking capable of pulling away with their division, every team is alive in the AFC and NFC West with the exception of the teams in the London Bowl this week. The 49ers are completely incapable of winning a close game and are delusional with their perception of their team’s talent level and I don’t think Denver can recover from the whooping they took last week.

As much as it feels like time to bury Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings (and trust me I’d love to), they are far from out of it. The Bears are probably the worst 4-3 team I have ever seen in my life. They aren’t going to be in the mix for a playoff spot when it comes down to it. Green Bay isn’t healthy or consistent enough to pull away. In the NFC South, I do think Atlanta has the ability to pull away from the Saints if they don’t get their heads on straight now. Tampa Bay is a tough, young team who will stay around .500 and will probably amazingly stay in the wild-card race.

There are three teams across the entire NFC, I would feel confident saying are playoff teams right now: Atlanta, the Giants, and the Eagles. Yes, I saw Philadelphia lose to Tennessee last week but I think when Vick gets back and gets rolling again, they will be right there with the Giants for the NFC East title. Everything else is a crap shoot, in a conference filled with mediocrity.

Back in the AFC where things are a little clearer, the Patriots and Jets are going down to the wire for the division title and are both playoff teams. Miami is nothing more than a 8-8 team. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are going down to the wire for their division title and are both playoff teams. Cincinnati is a 6-10 team. I don’t trust the Texans and think the South will come down to the Titans and Colts, with the other team battling it out for the Ravens for that last wild card spot.

Jets New DL Jarron Gilbert

Who Is The Team To Beat In The AFC?

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets). Also subscribe to the newly created YouTube page. I am happy to say our comment issue has been resolved as you can see, so any comment you leave on an article will be promptly posted.

2. Just a reminder that the Jets rookies report to training camp on July 29th in Cortland, New York. The veterans report on August 1st. The first episode of Hard Knocks is August 11th. The first pre-season game is August 16th against the Giants.

Who Is The Team To Beat In The AFC?

As training camp rapidly approaches let’s look at the four divisions in the AFC and what teams are most likely to come out of them and compete for a playoff spot and a Super Bowl.

AFC East

Favorite – I know it is shocking that the writer for Turn On The Jets is going to say the Jets are the favorite to win the AFC East, yet at the end of last season they were the best team in the division and they had the best overall off-season. Nobody is saying they are going to run away with this thing. It is going to be a dog fight with both the Dolphins and Patriots (likely more with the Dolphins). However, the Jets have the most overall talent on their roster and were less than a half away from a Super Bowl appearance last season. The addition of Antonio Cromartie, Brodney Pool, Jason Taylor, Kyle Wilson, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Santonio Holmes is only going to help that cause, along with the continued growth of Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene. Their defense will also improve from the familiarity the eight returning starters will now have with Rex Ryan’s system.

Primary Competitor – I am going with the Dolphins over the Patriots in this spot. Brandon Marshall will help give them some much needed balance on offense and a legit big play threat. Karlos Dansby and Jared Odrick were solid additions to their defense. However, I’m still not sold on their defense as an overall unit yet and I don’t know if Ronnie Brown can stay healthy or if Ricky Williams has another year like last season left in him. They also lack a proven option opposite Marshall at receiver, so when he loses himself on Revis Island, who will Miami turn to?

In The Mix – I am not counting out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick but the Patriots are looking like a 8-8 or 9-7 team to me right now. What did they do this off-season to make sure they don’t catch a swift beatdown from teams like the Ravens in 2010? Maybe I am putting too much stock in one game but I am not exactly worried about the additions of Torry Holt or Alge Crumpler. They have some young players with potential on offense who could step up but their defense isn’t what it used to be and is lacking on overall talent. Also, their offensive line isn’t the brick wall it used to be and they still don’t have anybody who is anything near being called a lead running back.

Circling The Wagons…In Basement – Trent Edwards. Brian Brohm. Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 2010 Buffalo Bills, everybody. I am sorry but who are their receivers beside Lee Evans and who is going to block for their UFL collection of quarterbacks and actually high quality trio of running backs?

AFC North

Favorite – The Baltimore Ravens have the potential to be scary good this season, if Joe Flacco can play more consistently and take advantage of the additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth. Ray Rice is a superstar in the making and you know their defense will be good. So yes, week 1 is going to be a hell of a test for the Jets and a potential preview of the AFC Championship Game.

Primary Competitor – Don’t sleep on the Cincinnati Bengals this year. Many people are picking them as the team least likely to return to the playoffs but they can run the ball, play defense, and had a good off-season. Antonio Bryant is a major upgrade over Laveranues Coles at receiver opposite Chad Ochocinco Johnson and the selection of Jermaine Gresham in the draft gives them a much needed pass catching tight end. They also swept the Ravens last year.

In The Mix – Let’s see what kind of job Byron Leftwich does holding the fort down until Ben Rothlisberger returns and how quickly Rothlisberger can get acclimated after he returns. Pittsburgh can survive the subtraction of Santonio Holmes because Mike Wallace is going to be a very good player but is their defense going to improve from last season, especially at the end of games?

Fun Times In Cleveland Again – Those poor Cleveland fans. I can’t imagine having to root for the Indians, Browns, and Cavs for the next few years.

AFC South

PhotobucketFavorite – The Colts are the favorite for the division and the conference until somebody knocks them off. Peyton Manning might complete 80 percent of his passes this year with Antony Gonzalez returning to support Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Dallas Clark. You can ask the same questions we always ask about their defense and running game but chances are they are going to be right there competing for a first round bye again.

Primary Competitor – I hate drinking the Texans kool-aid because everybody hypes them up every season and they never seriously challenge for a division title or make the playoffs. This roster has plenty of talent and maybe if their kicker can make a meaningful attempt this year, they can finally break through and play football in January.

In The Mix – Chris Johnson is the most electric playmaker in the NFL and Vince Young is always capable of making his share of big plays. Beyond that, Jeff Fisher is a great coach which means the Titans will be right in the mix for a playoff spot in 2010. I don’t know if they can make the jump to compete with the Colts for a AFC South title though.

Actually Not That Bad – The Jaguars somewhat exceeded expectations last year and added a few quality pieces to their defense. They are far from the doormat the Bills, Browns, and Chiefs and should be competitive in the division. They will likely finish last but could still win 7 or 8 games.

AFC West

Favorite – The Chargers should take advantage of playing in a weak division and roll to another division title. Hopefully, they bring their run defense into the New Meadowlands for a playoff battle against the Jets.

Primary Competitor – They don’t really fit the category as a competitor but I think the Oakland Raiders will end up in second place in this muddled division. Jason Campbell will bring much needed stability to the quarterback position and Michael Bush has the potential to be a quality lead back. Their defense has talent at all three levels with Richard Seymour, Rolando McClain, and Nnamdi Asomugha. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the NFL’s punchline win 8 games this year.

In The Mix – I am not really sold on any moves the Denver Broncos made this off-season and don’t see how they improved from the 8-8 team they were last season.

Poor Thomas Jones – I still wish Thomas Jones was on board with the green and white this season instead of playing for the Chiefs, who likely struggle to win 5 games this season.

As of today, if I had to list the order of probability of AFC teams making the playoffs (not a power ranking, just the likelihood of team making playoffs):

  1. Colts
  2. Chargers
  3. Ravens
  4. Jets
  5. Bengals
  6. Dolphins
  7. Patriots
  8. Texans
  9. Titans
  10. Steelers
  11. Raiders
  12. Jaguars
  13. Broncos
  14. Browns
  15. Chiefs
  16. Bills