Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 May 2014

ESPN: Early Projected AFC Standings

Early AFC projections to go with the early NFC projections from yesterday, along with some explanation of the basic reasons why teams are likely to improve and decline in 2014. Once again, please note that this is not the final, official Football Outsiders forecast for 2014, although the final forecast will surely also have Denver awesome and Oakland terrible.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 21 May 2014

4 comments, Last at 26 May 2014, 7:43pm by Jeff88

Comments

1
by eggwasp :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 10:41am

OK Raiders fan here, not wanting to lose all hope before the All Star Break. BUT
You say Oakland lost its best O-lineman - yes, but one we didn't have for 11 games last season. We've also signed 3 free agents which should strengthen the rest of the OL, not to mention a good 3rd round G.
I think its also very premature to say we haven't upgraded the defense - OK Houston has gone, but he's been replaced by aging, but solid veterans in Woodley and Tuck. And Khalil Mack upgrades what was actually a decent set of LBs last year. In the secondary there remain question marks with a new pair of free agent CBs, but a healthy progression from Hayden and having Branch (one of the 2012 team's best players) after just 1 full game last year will help.
The defense was actually ok for a good part of the season last year before completely falling apart towards the end of the year (not helped by having to play Denver of course).
I think one reason why defenses are so variable from year to year is that weak links can cause the whole unit/scheme to fall apart and snowball quickly. Branch shores up the safety position (v weak last year) and the DL was really quite poor (including Houston actually, for those that watched the games) particularly on the pass-rush side - I think the Raiders certainly upgraded their passrush, the question is how much. Its far too early to say they are the worst unit in the league.

On the offensive side of the ball - Jones upgrades rather than downgrades the receiving corps, how much is in question, but they didnt get worse. At RB, well it depends how much MJD and DMC have left in the tank, but Jennings wasn't all that. So I guess it all comes back to Schaub. Can we throw out all his body of work after one year started badly and snowballed? Reggie, Dennis & I obviously hope this prediction is like the Philip Rivers one last year. I certainly think its too early to say we'll have nothing to offer the league this year. Personally I think if Schaub can be just average, and if we can snaffle a WR/TE cut somewhere, we have a chance to flirt with .500 this year. Which I'll take, by the way.

2
by Led :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 2:00pm

Aaron: You may want to tell your ESPN colleague (and Jets blogger), Rich Cimini, that your first name is not Alan! http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york-jets

3
by mehllageman56 :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 9:31pm

Aaron, only tell him your real name if the later projection for the Jets is just as bleak. Otherwise, Cimini might find other ways of tweaking you.

On a serious note, I think both the Bills and the Jets have a larger than normal possibility of being better than their projections, simply because their second year quarterbacks may improve a lot. The LCF liked both of them a lot. I also appreciate the paragraph about the consistency of the Jets defense. Does the forecast include any method of including coaching into the projections? Last year, the Chiefs defense was projected to be the worst in the league, but with Sutton coaching them, it became a major force. A similiar thing happened in Ryan's first year in NY. The team that could be the most effected by this on the defensive side would be Cleveland; Pettine definitely helped the Bills last year.

4
by Jeff88 :: Mon, 05/26/2014 - 7:43pm

I think the Bills have a very well rounded team, unfortunately for the strides that their defense made last year I see them regressing with the Schwartz.

Though like you said both those teams successes or failures are based heavily on their 2nd year quarterbacks.