Major Flaws For Everyone In The AFC Playoff Field


The regular season is over and the playoff field is set and virtually anyone can win in the AFC.  Actually anyone can lose in the AFC.  Every team has major issues and we’re going to examine them.

New England Patriots

The Patriots have the great quarterback (with an ankle sprain), so that makes them the favorite to get to their second-straight Super Bowl.  Other than Brady, the Pats have suffered major injuries all over the offensive line, in the backfield and at the wide receiver position.

New England hasn’t looked like themselves offensively since Julian Edelman went down, and their season was capped by a 10-point loss to the lowly Miami Dolphins to lose the top-seed in the conference.  The Pats still have Brady and a great front-seven on defense, but they can’t throw the ball downfield because of their offensive line.  They also have issues in their secondary.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have by far the best defense in the NFL and that has single-handedly propelled them to the No. 1 seed in the conference.  Unfortunately, they have major issues on the offensive line and just as big of an issue under center.

Denver has a quarterback controversy heading into the playoffs as Peyton Manning was benched, then returned in the second half of Sunday’s 27-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers.  Manning doesn’t have the arm strength to make stick throws or push the ball downfield and the will have to be a run-first team if he’s under center.

If Gary Kubiak goes with Brock Osweiler, he has no playoff experience and is still learning the position.  That’s not a great recipe for a trip to Santa Clara.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have a great roster with weapons all over the place, and as crazy as it sounds, if Andy Dalton were healthy they would likely be the favorite in the conference.  Dalton isn’t healthy and they’re stuck with A.J. McCarron.

McCarron hasn’t shown much of an ability to operate the offense and they’ve been ultra-conservative.  That won’t work against the defenses of Denver or New England, assuming that they make it past Pittsburgh.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are the hottest team in the NFL, winners of 10 straight games.  Their schedule has softened them up down the stretch, and you really can’t trust Alex Smith at quarterback.  Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are banged up, and the Chiefs have some question marks in the secondary.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are the chic pick to make it to the Super Bowl, thanks to the most explosive offense in the AFC.  Pittsburgh can throw the ball at will to the great Antonio Brown, but there’s no prognosis on running back DeAngelo Williams’ ankle injury as of yet.

Even though the Steelers can score, they can’t stop anyone.  They have virtually no pass rush and their secondary isn’t playoff caliber (not really NFL caliber).  Ben Roethlisberger has thrown far too many interceptions this year and he has to be nearly perfect for the team to have a chance against a good opponent.

Houston Texans

The Texans are a home underdog to Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs, so that’s pretty much all you need to know.  Houston barely has a starting caliber quarterback in Brian Hoyer and they lost Arian Foster early in the season.  Outside of DeAndre Hopkins, there’s nothing to like on the Texans offense and they even lost their best offensive lineman, Duane Brown for the season on Sunday.

The defense can only carry them so far.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.