Pretenders or Contenders: AFC Edition
The 2021 NFL regular season is halfway done, and there’s a clear view of who will be contending for a playoff spot at the end. Let’s take a look at every team from the AFC and see which ones will be fighting till the very end.
- Baltimore Ravens: Contenders; Despite the injuries and getting off to slow starts, the Ravens are 6-2 and hold the lead in the AFC North. They are finding ways to win and that will come in handy when the games matter more down the line.
- Buffalo Bills: Contenders; Even with the loss to the Jaguars, the Bills have the lead in AFC East at 5-3. They better not have another slip-up, though, as the Patriots are right behind them.
- Cincinnati Bengals: Contenders; Sitting at 5-4, the Bengals are already outperforming everyone’s expectations at the start of the year. However, some weaknesses may have been exposed in the losses to both the Jets and Browns. Only time will tell, though.
- Cleveland Browns: Unknown; The Browns are 5-4 now and just took down a division rival on the road. However, the team has been a little up and down throughout the year. The injury to Quarterback Baker Mayfield doesn’t help. Maybe the Bengals’ win was a sign of things to come.
- Denver Broncos: Unknown; The Broncos started 3-0 then lost four in a row before winning their last two. Which team are we getting in the second half of the season? The win against the Cowboys was good for them though.
- Houston Texans: Pretenders; The Texans have the worst record in the AFC at 1-8. They will be contenders alright, just for the number one overall pick instead of the playoffs.
- Indianapolis Colts: Unknown; The Colts started 1-4 before winning three of four. Can they do enough to come back, or will the slow start do them in?
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Pretenders; Jaguars did upset the Bills for their second win of the season. However, they will probably still be picking in the top five in the upcoming NFL draft.
- Kansas City Chiefs: Unknown; The Chiefs are tough to figure out right now. Despite being at 5-4, Patrick Mahomes has thrown ten interceptions, and the defense has struggled all year. This is not the same Chiefs team from previous years.
- Las Vegas Raiders: Unknown; They are 5-3, and Derek Carr has been playing good football with 2565 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, with all the off-the-field stuff going on with the team, it may be too much of a distraction.
- Los Angeles Chargers: Contenders; With Justin Herbert doing well in his second year in the league, the Chargers sit at 5-3. They look like the team with the best chance to win the AFC West.
- Miami Dolphins: Pretenders; So much promise with the Dolphins after a 10-6 record in 2020. However, Tua’s injuries and a seven-game losing streak lead to a lot of questions with the team going forward.
- New England Patriots: Contenders; The Patriots are right behind the Bills for the division lead at 5-4. The team has had a few impressive games this year, including the win against the Chargers.
- New York Jets: Pretenders; To be positive, the Jets’ two wins came against the Titans and Bengals, both contenders. Besides that, the team hasn’t had much go right for them this year.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Contenders; The Steelers have won four games in a row since their 1-3 start. TJ Watt has been big for them this year with 11.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. With the way the AFC North has been lately, they could end up stealing the division at the end.
- Tennessee Titans: Contenders; Even with Derrick Henry possibly being out for the rest of the year, the Titans hold the number one seed right now. This team is playing great football and should be considered the favorite to reach the Super Bowl in the AFC.