Let me give a prediction from a person who really watches the AFC East most
closely. For what it is worth, here goes:
Dallas is going the way of the Dinosaur. Let it go! The Redskins, OTOH,
are building toward another SB appearance. The Eagles will continue to be
tough due to a very strong Defense and a smash mouth running game. Giants
have definite potential to at least get to a NFC championship. Cards are
This is the toughest division if you ask me. These would all be contenders
if in the NFC West, for instance. I say the Bucs will get better. The
Packers will get worse. The Vikings will stay the same, but become more
consistent through the season. The Bears are likely to still have trouble
due to management difficulties.
The NFC West will still have SF to contend with, but Atlanta will be a close
runner up. They stand to be the Cinderella team of '98. I will not be
surprized if they even take the division. The Rams and Saints will probably
make better showings, so this division should get a little more balanced.
The Redskins, Packers, Bucs and 49ers will definitely make the playoffs.
The remaining spots will be challenged for by the Giants, Eagles, Vikings,
Falcons and Panthers.
This division has been pretty competitive in years past. This year, it will
be a race between Miami and Buffalo. The Patriots have some major
overhauling to do with coaching change. Bill Parcells team was not put
together with very strong glue -- and the seams will begin to unravel even
further. Buffalo, on the other hand, will continue to be a Defensive
powerhouse with the running game getting even stronger. The Jets will get
better, but still have some serious problems to work out. The Colts will be
up and down again, but not to the extremes of last year. Miami will start
to really come into focus with a very *** defense, and a balanced
offense that features a strong one-two punch with KAJ and Lawrence Phillips.
The Jags will have a good season. They are very solid. So will the
Steelers. I agree that Thigpen will be a big loss for them -- and should
make a difference with the Oilers. While the Bengals should do a little
better, I don't think they will. Their problems are not with talent, but
how to get a team to play consistently at the top of its game. You say the
Oilers are playing above their level. They will continue to do so, but with
more experience, they will be a contender. Look for Eddie George and Air
McNair to come into their own for the first time. The Ravens are trying to
recapture the past so intensely that they cannot see the present.
Marchibroda should have left Testeverde alone. They will have lots of
problems trying to get it together.
This division is tough to predict. The Broncos will still be strong! The
Chiefs will be close behind. The Raiders and Seahawks will continue to
squander their talents. The Chargers will improve.
I believe the four teams to definitely make the playoffs for the AFC will be
Miami, the Jaguars, Oilers, Denver and the Chiefs. That only leaves one
position open to be fought over between the Steelers, Jets and Bills.
The 49ers will most likely be challenged by the Bucs in the championship. I
will take the Bucs as my favorite to represent the NFC. For the AFC, I see
Miami challenging Denver for supremacy. Denver will most likely repeat and
challenge the Bucs. I say Tampa Bay takes the trophy home. Miami will have
to wait another year to get to the big party. Of course, I might be
wrong.:) One can hope.