2011 NFL Predictions: The American Football Conference

Growing up a Kansas City Chiefs fan let me have just a little excitement when Lenny Dawson led them to a Super Bowl victory way back in January 1970 – of course there were the “Marty Years” (1989-1998) in which we won a lot of games, put fans in the seats, but did not get to the Promised Land.  Last year there was some joy – the Chiefs contended and made the playoffs.

I guess the only big question left to be answered is which will come first: another Chiefs Super Bowl victory or my death?  This year the Chiefs reap the benefits of being the 2010 AFC West Champions – three primetime night games – and a much tougher schedule!

The AFC is where my heart is and my team is the Kansas City Chiefs. That will never change!  So this year I start off with my predictions for the American Football Conference.

Here’s hoping your team has a great year and you have something to talk about after Christmas…like the playoffs! 

AFC West

2010 Finish: 1. Chiefs, 2. Chargers, 3. Raiders, 4. Broncos

The Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos are tied with the third toughest NFL schedules in 2011 (these are based on the 2010 won/loss records and the data is from this website).  The Raiders have the 19th toughest schedule.  So, does that mean the Raiders will win the AFC West?  Nope.  Only one team is equipped to handle a tough schedule in the AFC West and that is the Chargers.

The 2011 AFC West Champions will be the San Diego Chargers.  The Chiefs get to taste some first place cooking this season and look for them to take a step back with a tougher schedule. They won’t sneak up on anyone either and during the first three preseason games, they did not seem ready to defend their AFC West title.  The Raiders changed coaches (again) and so did the Broncos; the NFL is just too competitive for these new coaches to have their teams in the playoffs this year.

2011 AFC West Predictions:

1. Chargers 11-5

2. Chiefs  8-8

3. Raiders 7-9

4. Broncos 7-9

AFC East

2010 Finish:  1. Patriots, 2. Jets, 3. Dolphins, 4. Bills

The Bills have the second toughest schedule in the NFL.  The Jets are tied for third.   The Patriots are playing the 15th toughest schedule.  The Dolphins, for what it is worth, are playing the 10th toughest schedule.

What will matter most are the two head to head games between the Jets and Patriots which starts October 9 with the Jets at the Pats and the second meeting is November 13.

2011 AFC East Predictions:

1. Patriots 12-4

2. Jets 11-5

3. Bills 6-10

4. Dolphins 5-11

AFC South

2010 Finish: 1. Colts, 2. Jaguars, 3. Texans, 4. Titans

The Colts and the Jaguars are tied for the third toughest schedule, but the biggest question is when will Peyton Manning play?  That’s about the only excitement in this division – I’m yawning…

2011 AFC South Predictions:

1. Colts 11-5

2. Jaguars 9-7

3. Texans 9-7

4. Titans 5-11

AFC North

2010 Finish: 1. Steelers, 2. Ravens, 3. Browns, 4. Bengals

All four teams have pretty soft schedules compared to the rest of the AFC because this is the year for the AFC North to play the NFC West!  The Steelers have the 27th toughest schedule and the Ravens the 31st.

Right out of the gate, the Steelers play at the Ravens in week one and then they play again on November 6 in Pittsburgh.  It’s too bad these games are not closer to the end of the season.

I think this will be the Ravens’ year to win the AFC North, but have no fear the Steelers are in the playoffs (if their players stay out of jail).

2011 AFC North Predictions:

1. Ravens 12-4

2. Steelers 10-6

3. Browns 8-8

4. Bengals 6-10

Playoffs:

If it all goes as I predicted the Steelers and the Jets will be Wildcard teams.  For some reason, I just feel the AFC team making it to the Super Bowl will be the Baltimore Ravens.

You can follow me @TheWesternWord for updates about everything from politics to football!

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