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AFC predictions: How each team will finish this season

Sept. 8, 2021 Updated Wed., Sept. 8, 2021 at 6:41 p.m.

By Sam Farmer Los Angeles Times

Here’s a quick look at the predicted order of finish for every NFL team in the AFC this season:

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes is the NFL’s most dynamic quarterback and will be playing behind a retooled offensive line.

2. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert was phenomenal as a rookie and, barring a sophomore slump, should be fun to watch. As in years past, team is still looking to get offensive line right.

3. Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr is coming off an excellent season and has some dangerous targets.

4. Denver Broncos: Denver is still looking to find a quarterback but the team is able to establish the run and has a stout defense.

AFC East

1. Buffalo Bills: Could be season Buffalo hoists the Lombardi Trophy. Josh Allen has arm and receiving weapons to strike fear in the division and league.

2. Miami Dolphins: Defense is a strong suit for Miami, which led the NFL with 29 takeaways last season. Is Tua Tagovailoa the answer at quarterback? We’ll see.

3. New England Patriots: Bill Belichick has upgraded his defense, which should be faster and even more stout. Mac Jones is the team’s first rookie to start QB since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.

4. New York Jets: Robert Saleh has fans excited, but team already has lost defender Carl Lawson for season. Lots of hopes riding on QB Zach Wilson.

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger is 39, but that’s not a disqualifying age for QBs (See: Brady, Tom).

His elbow is healthier and he has a lethal cast of receivers.

2. Cleveland Browns: This could be the year Cleveland turns the corner … but we’ve heard that before. The Browns unquestionably are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.

3. Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore led the league in rushing the past two seasons, but it hasn’t been able to throw. Injuries are already an issue.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Burrow is back and playing on a reconstructed knee. Will be interesting to see him reestablish a rapport with former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase.

AFC South

1. Tennessee Titans: With Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and now Julio Jones, the Titans check the box on offensive productivity.

2. Indianapolis Colts: If Carson Wentz can get/stay healthy, he’ll enjoy the benefit of one of the NFL’s best lines.

3. Houston Texans: Houston’s running game has improved, and it better. The drop-off at quarterback from Deshaun Watson to Tyrod Taylor warrants others stepping up.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jacksonville won one game last season, so at least improvement is a low bar for No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence. Last year’s defense was the worst in team history.

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