In the 2018 AFC, the Patriots, Ravens, Texans, and Chiefs won their respective divisions. Entering 2019, not all four of those teams are in a position to replicate their division crown. Here is a look at who should be in line to win the 2019 AFC divisions.
AFC East: New England Patriots
The Patriots have not finished below the top spot in their division since the 2008 season in which Tom Brady missed the entire season due to a torn ACL. The outcome of the 2019 AFC East should be no different as the Patriots feature one of the best rosters in football.
With Brady still playing at a high level into his early 40s, the Patriots should be unassailable at the top of the AFC East. Moving beyond No. 12, the Patriots have a variety of weapons including Sony Michel, James White, and Ben Watson, who will return to the Patriots after a four-game suspension. The Patriots also added wide receiver N’Keal Harry in the first round of the draft. Defensively speaking, the Patriots still have the brilliant mind of Bill Belichick at head coach with lockdown corner Stephon Gilmore and a cast of pieces who play well as a group. The only genuine competition in the AFC East would arise if one of the second-year quarterbacks, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, or Josh Rosen, step up and play at a high-level during the 2019 season.
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens
The general shocker of the group, the Ravens have been frequently underrated throughout the offseason. Based on second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, many people dispute the Ravens offense. In addition to doubting the Ravens’ offense, many people note the loss of C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle, and Za’Darius Smith on the defense without acknowledging the fact of the Ravens replaced three of those four players with a higher upside. In terms of the offense, the Ravens addressed needs at wide receiver, drafting two.
The main competition will be from the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers lost Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the offseason, and while their replacements seem to be effective, neither James Conner nor JuJu Smith-Schuster has dominated as the sole options on the Steelers. The Browns have been the darlings of the offseason, acquiring Odell Beckham in a trade and signing Kareem Hunt. Moving forward, the Browns have high upside at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, but their defense might lack in the 2019 campaign.
AFC South: Indianapolis Colts
The Colts had an incredible turnaround in the 2018 season. After winning one of their first six games, the Colts turned around and won nine of their last 10, punching their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The main fire of the comeback was improved offensive line play lead by All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson. With the offensive line playing at its highest level that it had in years, Andrew Luck was given sufficient time upright in the pocket to survey the field and find the likes of TY Hilton and Eric Ebron, who both enjoyed spectacular seasons.
Defensively, the Colts featured defensive rookie of the year, Darius Leonard, and a variety of up-and-coming pieces. The Colts should be even better in 2018 as a full season of satisfactory offensive line play should help the Colts out. The serious competition for the Colts lies in the 2018 champion Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans could also prove to be a thorn in the side of the Colts, but the Titans have yet to beat Andrew Luck in an NFL game, losing all 11 games.
AFC West: Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers had a very good 2018 season. Prior to their loss against the Patriots in the divisional round, the Chargers had no lost a game outside the state of California. While realistically speaking that will not be achieved in 2019, the Chargers showed that they have enough competent players offensively and defensively to grind out wins against a variety of opponents.
The Chargers overtake the Chiefs in these predictions due to the youth of the roster and the potential to improve. In Kansas City, it is a reasonable assumption the Chiefs offense will not be as good as it was in 2018. Coupled with a poor defense, the Chiefs are due for a regression to the mean.