A check-in on my AFC preseason picks
With the NFL season being past its midpoint, I thought I would take a look back at the AFC predictions I made back before the season started. It is still unknown what final records will be, but there are teams I can already see I was too high on, as well as ones I may have overlooked. Here are some of my takeaways:
I will start with the negative, because there is one team I just want to get out of the way: The Oakland Raiders. They are just really bad. Like, really, really bad. For the record, I did make my prediction before they traded away an elite pass rusher in Khalil Mack. However, I completely overrated this team’s offense, whom I thought would get back to 2016 form with a healthy Derek Carr. They rank 30th in the NFL in points per game, averaging 16.3. At 1-8, it is mathematically impossible for this team to achieve the 10-6 record I predicted.
A team I completely underrated in the AFC West is the Kansas City Chiefs. They have been absolutely lighting it up so far this season, driving home their team identity that the best defense is a good offense. I picked them to go 8-8, which is just disrespectful. At 9-1, they have the best record in the AFC at the moment. I did not see Patrick Mahomes performing this well in year one as a starter, and he has been statistically the best quarterback in the league this season. He has given this team a significant upgrade at the quarterback position, and that is not a knock on Alex Smith. For the particular offense that exists in Kansas City, having a quarterback with the arm strength Mahomes possesses has enabled deep threats like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to make an abundance of big plays. Their only blemish was a 43-40 loss on the road to the Patriots, but this team is still very legit. With the #1 seed as of now in the AFC, this team will be even scarier if they get home field for the playoffs, as Arrowhead is not an easy place for opposing teams to play at.
Aside from the AFC West, my other three division winners stand as of now. Although I didn’t really go out on a limb with these picks, The Patriots, Steelers, and Texans sit atop their divisions, despite all three getting off to slow starts. I see all of these teams staying in first place for the remainder of the season, both because they have been impressive in the way they’ve performed, but also because their division doesn’t really have other contenders. Sure, the Titans and Bengals have exceeded my own expectations, but they have not been consistent enough to show they are capable of winning the division.
These are the main teams that have stuck out when I looked at my preseason predictions this morning. If the season were to end today, I’d consider it to be a success. Yes, the Raiders were one the worst predictions in the history of predictions, but the rest have been pretty solid. Looking forward to final push, in what is looking a conference with four teams all capable of getting to Super Bowl LIII.