In recent years, the AFC Conference has been dominated by the same two or three teams (i.e. Broncos and Patriots). However, heading into the 2016 season there are signs that the conference could start to open up, allowing other teams to compete and have a realistic goal of reaching the Super Bowl. Let’s look at how things stack up heading into the 2016 season.
The Patriots have owned this division for more years than anyone can count. But Tom Brady being suspended for the first four games of the season leaves the door slightly ajar for the Bills, Jets, or Dolphins. However, all three teams have questions to answer heading into the season and may not be able to take advantage of New England beginning the season without Brady.
This division figures to be a two-horse race between the Steelers and Bengals. Pittsburgh may have the best offense in the NFL, while Cincinnati has long had one of the most talented and balanced rosters in football, which should make this a tight race. The Ravens could be an interesting sleeper to watch in this division, while the Browns will be lucky to win more than a couple games in 2016.
The Texans look poised to repeat as division champions if Brock Osweiler proves to be a competent quarterback, but no one should discount Andrew Luck having a bounce back year and leading the Colts back to the top of the division. Meanwhile, the Jaguars and Titans could surprise some people if their young quarterbacks can show improvement.
The Super Bowl champion Broncos are not obvious favorites to win the division despite a defense that was historically good last season. The Chiefs are a threat to win the division after earning a wild card spot last year, and the Raiders finally look ready to compete behind a young corps of players. Unfortunately for San Diego, the Chargers don’t figure to make much noise in this division 2016.