For those of you that do not know, a few days ago we looked at the NFC after the second week of preseason play and looked at a major talking point per division. We will look at the four major points again, one per division, but this time the AFC is the one in the batters box.
AFC East: Defense is Strongly Improved
One major thing that we can take away from the second week of preseason in the AFC East is that the defensive side of the game has looked better. In regards to the Jets, they added a few young pieces such as Dee Milliner, who looked quick and ball hungry all night against the Colts. The Jets were able to hold the Colts to 10 points, 222 total yards and had a fumble recovery. The Patriots also made improvements on defense over the off-season, but it really did not translate into the game as much. Their starters were able to disrupt RGIII and force him into throwing bad passes, but the 2nd and 3rd string guys gave up a lot to the Redskins. Depth is important for a great defense, and while the Patriots still need to show depth, their starters still looked much improved. The Bills have already played two games, being one of the teams in the Hall of Fame Game, and in both cases they have looked very solid on defense. The Bills have forced four turnovers so far, and while the defense is still giving up a lot of yards, the depth still looks good. On separate occasions they were able to contain the Panthers and trouble Eli Manning, all-in-all a good nights work for the new and improved Bills. The only shortcoming in the AFC East is the Dolphins. Their defense looked flat and gave up a lot of yards to the Falcons. They were able to contain the Falcons to 16 points, even without a lot of key guys on defense, but still the Dolphins are the only lackluster team as far as improvements on defense goes.
AFC South: Colts Division to Lose
The Colts may have lost to the Jets, but do not let this fool you, the Colts are by far and away the best team in the AFC South. Jacksonville showed signs of improvement, Blake Bortles looked good, but they are still a very long way off with no offense or defense around him. The Titans had an impressive win over the Packers, but the defense isn’t there and nor is Jake Locker who did not impress at all. The Texans are only two years removed from crushing all the AFC, but now with a new everything and injuries still crushing all hopes of advancement, the Texans also do not look like they are close to fighting the Colts. Andrew Luck looked every bit himself in his first game action in months, the defense did well enough and the Colts as a whole looked good. They still are figuring out the RB situation, but regardless of what comes from that, there is no one in the AFC South that is even close to competing or challenging the Colts for the top spot in that division.
AFC West: Broncos Conference to Lose
I will be the first to admit that I did not think the Broncos would be as good as they were last year. I mean sure, their offense will take a step back because there is no plausible way to keep up that kind of production. The real issue I had with the Broncos was on the defensive side of the ball. Not long ago, when a certain Tim Tebow was quarterback, this Broncos defense was one of the best in the NFL. They still have a lot of those guys, but for whatever reason they have regressed over the past few years. However, if their first preseason game showed anything, it was their improvements on defense. They were able to contain the Seahawks to 16 points, 300 yards, force a turnover and DeMarcus Ware looked scary. He got after Russell Wilson, the defense looked to rally around him and overall they played great. If the defense can stay healthy and suspension free (I’m looking at you Von Miller), then there is no reason that the Broncos should not only win their division easily, but also win their conference easily as well.
AFC North: Johnny Needs a Start
I hate myself, I hate that I am forcing myself to write about Johnny Manziel and this unbelievable circus frenzy that is his career, but I am. I mean it doesn’t matter that the Steelers looked extremely good on defense and that Archer is already making an instant impact on offense because of his versatility. Who cares if we talk about the Ravens and how they are still not quiet there, and Ray Rice is a big factor for them this season. God forbid we talk about the Bengals and how the team looked very good, and that AJ Green and Andy Dalton looked in mid-season form already. No, I am forcing myself to write about this knuckle head, Johnny Football. I am not a fan of him whatsoever, I also do not think he will be very good at the pro level, not necessarily because of talent issues, but because of off-field shenanigans. However, in his first game he showed me that he does deserve a chance to start. What can I say, the kid played well. He was 7/11, threw for 62 yards and made plays with his legs for 27 yards. While he did make some poor decisions (one comes to mind on a 4th and 1, he had his fullback wide open but decided to run and barely made it to the first down marker), he looked relatively composed and comfortable for a rookie. Therefore, he deserves to start. Sure, Hoyer also looked good, but not that much better. Manziel deserves a crack at a first team defense and he deserves to get the nod come the third week of preseason.
Thanks for reading!
All stats and information courtesy of espn.com