With the NFL Draft officially in the rearview, we can now start looking towards the 2022 season with realistic predictions and expectations. The AFC (West in particular) improved exponentially this offseason with teams loading up to try to unseat the Kansas City Chiefs.

AFC Teams Ranked

  • 16. New York Jets. The Jets did add significant pieces in the draft but have a long way to go as far as developing quarterback Zach Wilson. The team will progress as Wilson does and it’s unlikely that 2022 will be the year where things click into place.
  • 15. Jacksonville Jaguars. Year one was a disaster for Trevor Lawrence and the entire Jags organization. The road to recovery starts now as Dog Pederson takes over and begins to revamp the roster (which started this offseason with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram).
  • 14. Houston Texans. With the Deshaun Watson situation finally behind them, the Texans can now focus on the future. David Mills had his moments last season at quarterback but it’s uncertain as to whether or not he’s the answer going forward.
  • 13. Pittsburgh Steelers. Moving on from the Ben Roethlisberger era, the Steelers now have both Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett on the roster so there’s room for growth with solid weapons at receiver and an adequate defense.

The middle of the road, playoffs possible

  • 12. Miami Dolphins. The Fins were the a psychotic team in 2021 as they boasted both a seven game losing streak followed by a seven game winning streak. The addition of Tyreek Hill adds an electric dimension to the offense but is Tua Tagovaiola ready to get this franchise to the next level?
  • 11. New England Patriots. We saw Mac Jones get the Pats to the playoffs as a rookie but we also can’t forget the rookie wall he hit and the beating New England took at the hands of the Bills. The rest of the roster is good, not great although second place in the AFC East is open for business.
  • 10. Indianapolis Colts. Indy is a huge wildcard heading into the 2022 season. The Carson Wentz experiment lasted just a season and now they will rely on 36-year-old Matt Ryan. Will this be a career resurgence i.e. Matt Stafford or will the Colts continue to wallow in mediocrity?
  • 9. Cleveland Browns. The Baker Mayfield era is over after a disastrous 2021 campaign that saw the Browns crash and burn in epic fashion. Is Deshaun Watson (after a year off from football) ready to come in and get Cleveland rolling immediately?

In the playoff hunt

  • 8. Las Vegas Raiders. While the Raiders were able to trade for superstar receiver Davonte Adams and lock up incumbent QB Derek Carr, questions still remain. New coach, new GM and zero playoff success in recent memory but the potential is there for a 10-7, 11-6 season.
  • 7. Tennessee Titans. The former 1 seed in the AFC playoffs is facing uncertainly and a potential “rebuild” situation. Gone are Julio Jones and A.J. Brown leaving the team’s fate in the hands of oa 28-year-old running back.
  • 6. Denver Broncos. The AFC West is going to be a dogfight and the Broncos have now entered their name into the competition. Do we assume inserting Russell Wilson atomically makes the Broncos a Super Bowl contender? The roster is solid enough but I’m not sure we should pencil in Denver for a trip to Glendale just yet.
  • 5. Baltimore Ravens. Say what you want but the combination of Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh are proven regular-season winners. If Jackson stays healthy, you can pencil the Ravens in for 10 or 11 wins without hesitation. Beyond that? Sorry, can’t help you.

Playoff solid AFC teams

  • 4. Los Angeles Chargers. As Patrick Mahomes infamously said last year “we’ll see it when we believe it. The AFC West is going to be tough waters to swim in but if the Chargers don’t make the playoffs in 2022, the national media may actually stop picking them to win the division every year.
  • 3. Cincinnati Bengals. Cincy pulled off the impossible by winning at Tennessee and Kansas City in the playoffs last season in route to its first Super Bowl appearance in 33 years. Are the Bengals here to stay? As our friend Pacman Jones once said when asked to analyze the recent success of the Bengals: “1-800-CALL-JOEBURROW.”
  • 2. Buffalo Bills. We know how close the Bills are to achieving franchise immortality. Allen fell just short in his epic battle with Mahomes and KC in the playoffs but their division is paper thin which could give them the leg up on the 1-seed this season.
  • 1. Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have been the gold standard in the AFC since Mahomes arrived in 2018. Four straight AFC Championship games, two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl title keep the Chiefs at #1 until proven otherwise. Their own division is going to be difficult to win, but no one is more battle-tested in this conference.

Avatar of Clint Switzer

By Clint Switzer

Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. Starcade Media co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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