As it stands, the AFC is currently Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ to win. But, does any fellow team stand a chance or is the path to the Super Bowl easier than ever?
The Patriots have dominated in 2016. Despite Brady serving a four-game suspension to start the season, New England sits in fine shape leading the AFC East with a 13-2 record. With an astute offense and a great defense, the Patriots have outscored their opponents handily, with a 170+ point differential.
The Patriots fellow playoff-bound division rivals, the Miami Dolphins, have turned to Matt Moore after Ryan Tannehill suffered a potentially season-ending MCL and ACL injury. Moore, who’s thrown 10 passes in the last three seasons, has delivered in three games, with six touchdown passes and two interceptions – tallying three consecutive wins. But, is a 32-year-old career backup the best option to dethrone the Pats? Hell no.
In Houston, the quarterback situation is just as murky. The Texans $72 million man, Brock Osweiler, has been a complete bust. With his struggles, the organization turned to Tom Savage, a fourth-round pick from 2014 who’s yet to throw a career touchdown. That’s not good.
Another team ravaged with injuries at quarterback is the Oakland Raiders. MVP candidate Derek Carr broke his leg late against the Colts. It’s a crappy development for a team that finally found its footing under Jack Del Rio. Replacing him behind center will be 27-year-old Penn State alum Matt McGloin. While McGloin has had some brief moments of success in his four seasons in the NFL, he’s a significant drop-off from Carr.
The remaining AFC playoff teams are the biggest threats to New England. With Le’Veon Bell back in the fold, the Pittsburgh Steelers look dominant. The Mike Tomlin-coached squad has rattled off six straight wins to sneak into the playoffs and win the division. The Kansas City Chiefs are also a well-coached, well-rounded team capable of grinding out a nice run.
However, none of the AFC playoff teams are on the Patriots level. The well-oiled machine is primed for another lengthy playoff run. With team’s putting their playoff hopes on no-name quarterbacks, New England’s quest for the Super Bowl appears easier than it has in a long time.