Patrick: Welcome to Bleacher Bums. I’m Patrick.
Derrik: And I’m Derrik.
Patrick: Football season is upon us and it’s time for Derrik and I to tell you who’s gonna win big, who to look out for, and who might surprise you. We’re gonna talk AFC this week, and we’ll bring NFC picks and predictions next week. Let’s start with the AFC East. Derrik, who is our division winner here? (There’s only one right answer.)
Derrik: I think this one is obvious and it’s the team from New York. And that’s absolutely not going to be the Jets. It’s the Buffalo Bills – the team that is actually in the state of New York. I think this one is the most cut and dry pick we have to make.
Patrick: You got it. During our Fantasy Football Draft, Barnes chose Josh Allen with the second overall pick, claiming that he could win the MVP – and he’s totally right. The Bills also have the best defense in the league and so it’s pretty hard to doubt that they won’t be competitive for every second of those 60 minutes. Easy enough, out of the way. Next, the AFC North. I think we’re gonna disagree here.
Derrik: Are you sure we are going to disagree? I’m going to pick the Baltimore Ravens to win the division. I don’t see this as a negative towards the Bengals, but as a positive towards the Ravens. I think their defense is going to be better than expected, and Rashod Bateman is going to have a breakout year. Plus, Lamar will be healthy all season.
Patrick: Interesting, I didn’t see that coming. Here’s how I look at it: It’s Baltimore’s division to lose…but they will. Last year, they lost their last six games. Yes, Lamar went down. But they played like trash all season. They had to have Justin Tucker kick the longest field goal of all time, so that they could beat the Lions. They have a lot of guys that are really talented, but you have to be talented in the first quarter too. I love the guy, but Lamar is most guilty of that. I’m going with Cincy on this one.
Derrik: I’m hoping we don’t pick mostly all of the same division winners, but I have a bad feeling that’s going to happen. So with the AFC South up next, I’m going to go out on a massive limb here. Can you guess who I’m picking to win the AFC South?
Patrick: Who even cares? It’s the most boring division in the sport. Anyway, you’re going Colts.
Derrik: Nope. I’m picking the Jacksonville Jaguars. I have to make at least one hot take in this. Trevor Lawrence was the number one pick for a reason, and Travis Etienne is set for a massive season after missing out on his rookie year. Also, you don’t pay Christian Kirk $20 million a season to not use him. And their defense is better than people realize. Josh Allen, Foyesade Oluokon, and Shaquill Griffin are some of the players they feature on defense. And don’t forget about Travon Walker, the linebacker they took with the number one pick this year. This pick is definitely out there, but out of all the teams that sucked last year I think the Jaguars have the best chance of being good.
Patrick: I think you’re just trying to justify your garbage fantasy pick. The Colts have the best offense in the division: Jonathan Taylor is a lawnmower, Michael Pittman’s got the goods, and don’t count out Matt Ryan just yet. Defense wins champions, but we’re not talking championships, we’re talking a crap division. I’m going Indy.
Derrik: Out of all the divisions in the NFL I’d say the AFC South is the most likely to have a shock winner. But I won’t get all into that. Who are you going to pick for the AFC West?
Patrick: On the flip side, I find the West very interesting. They might be the AL East of the NFL. Is there a division with four quarterbacks this strong? I’m going Chiefs, but this could be a case of them all beating up on each other and screwing up their playoff seeds. Do you agree?
Derrik: This is definitely the AL East of the NFL. Every team in the division will be good. And I think it’s time for a new division winner in the AFC West. I’m picking the LA Chargers to win the AFC West. The Chiefs started last year 3-4 before going on a big win streak and won all but one of their last 10 games, which included beating the Broncos and Raiders twice. When it came to playing the Chargers, the Chiefs lost at home and barely won on the road, needing overtime to do so. The Chargers have a high powered offense with Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams, and Gerald Everett has upside at the tight end spot. Plus they massively upgraded their defense, adding Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson to a group that already had Joey Bosa and Derwin James. The Chiefs could still go further in the playoffs than the Chargers, but I’m picking the Chargers to win the division.
Patrick: If we were picking who would have a longer playoff run, I’d switch and say Chargers over Chiefs, but I think KC will finish the regular season at the top. Speaking of, let’s talk some playoffs. It’s too complicated to go through every round and bye, so let’s cut straight to the chase: who is your AFC Champion?
Derrik: My AFC Champion, alluding back to what I said with the Chiefs and Chargers, is going to be the Kansas City Chiefs. I do think the Chargers will win the division, but the Chiefs playoff experience should help them, and at the end of the day the playoffs is all about matchups, and if the Chiefs get the right matchups I could easily see them making the Super Bowl. And why not? They have the best QB in the league (sorry Josh Allen, but it’s still Mahomes) and they have an offense with a bunch of upside. Some players who could play big roles for the Chiefs are rookies such as Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco, as well as someone like Mecole Hardman, who some fans think will have a breakout year with no Tyreek Hill. However, I think it’ll take a little time getting used to not having Hill, but once they get rolling it’ll be hard to stop them. The only question will be their defense, especially with them losing Tyrann Mathieu.
Patrick: Bills Mafia, baby. Not only do I think they’re the best in the division, or the best in the conference, they might even be the best in the league. I think the Chargers and Chiefs are gonna wear each other out, while the Bills cruise. I don’t think that’ll hurt them, not facing too many challenges – just step on the gas come the winter. Anything else you would like to add before we wrap?
Derrik: I have one thing, and it’s that Josh Allen won’t win the MVP. It’ll be Justin Herbert when the Chargers win the AFC West because we all know MVP voters love storylines. And the Bills will have some tough games. They have to play the Packers, Chiefs, Rams, and Bengals as well as the Titans and Ravens. And the Pats and Dolphins aren’t going to roll over. They won’t just coast the whole season.
Patrick: 13-4 is a relative coast. And they’ll preview some teams that they’ll face in the playoffs. But you’re right that Josh Allen won’t win MVP, because Lamar will win it. Next week, we’re going to cover the NFC. Until then, I’m Patrick…
Derrik: And I’m Derrik…
Patrick: And we’re a couple of Bleacher Bums.