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To Panic or Relax: 4 AFC Teams

Four AFC teams with high expectations are struggling mightily.

Mark Gunnels



In today’s age of social media, it’s normal to see fans and media members alike overreact to each and every single game. With the NFL season being two weeks in, there’s been tons of knee-jerk reactions, but some of them may be warranted.

Obviously, no one’s season is over after just two games, but in the same breathe, there’s cause for concern for certain teams.

Without further ado, let’s see if the following four AFC teams need to panic or relax.

Oakland Raiders – For the first team in nearly a decade, expectations for the Raiders are very high and deservedly so.

A season ago, Oakland’s offense showed tons of promise behind the arm of Derek Carr, who yielded an incredible touchdown to interception ratio of 32:13. While Carr was great, some of his success has to be attributed to his stellar wide receiver duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

The duo combined for 157 catches, 1,992 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2015.

With another full off-season together, it was widely expected for Oakland’s offense to be even better, which has been the case thus far, as they lead the NFL in points per game (31.5).

Unfortunately, what was suppose to be a much improved defense following the additions of Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith, Reggie Nelson and having a healthy Khalil Mack back in the fold has been nothing as expected.

Oakland ranks dead last in total yards allowed (1,035), last in yards allowed per game (517.5), last in passing yards allowed per game (404.0) and second to last in points allowed per game (34.5).

Although Oakland has given up more yards through the first two games than any other team in NFL history, it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.

Mack hasn’t registered a sack thus far and one must believe he’s still getting back into the swing of things. Also, when adding key new pieces, it can take time for everyone to get on the same page.

With Tennessee on the schedule this Sunday, this is a prime opportunity for Oakland’s defense to put things together.

Indianapolis Colts – Similar to Oakland, the Colts defense has been a complete mess through two weeks.

Indianapolis ranks dead last in points allowed per game (36.5), but unlike the Raiders, it’s not surprising to see the Colts struggle defensively. What’s more concerning is the play of Andrew Luck.

Sure, Luck’s numbers aren’t bad, but they aren’t great either.

Luck has tossed five touchdowns to only one interception thus far for 582 yards with a quarterback rating of 94.1.

However, the Colts are (0-2) for the third consecutive season.

The loss to Detroit in the season opener was on the defense for giving up 39 points, but this past Sunday lies on the shoulders of Luck, who turned the ball over twice, which resulted in touchdowns both times.

Luck threw a pick six to Aqib Talib and after being stripped by Von Miller, linebacker Shane Ray scooped it up and returned it for a game-clinching touchdown.

With no sign of the defense getting better anytime soon, Colts fans should be very concerned for several reasons.

First of all, everything will depend on the arm of Luck once again, which is not a healthy formula to win on a consistent basis.

Secondly, the offensive line still looks shaky and with a lack of a consistent rushing attack, defenses will be prepared for Luck to air it out.

Lastly, the Houston Texans look legit so far, which is very problematic for the Colts because winning the AFC South is their only realistic chance of making the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Here’s another example of high expectations coming back to bite.

Following an impressive offseason, the Jaguars were a sexy pick for many to make the playoffs and perhaps even win the AFC South.

Nonetheless, Jacksonville is off to an (0-2) start.

Now, after losing to the Green Bay Packers in a heartbreaking 27-23 contest, there was still plenty of optimistic for Jacksonville moving forward, but that optimism took a major hit after getting demolished by the San Diego Chargers to the tune of 38-14.

Not only should Jags fans be concerned, head coach Gus Bradley should be as well.

After all, Bradley is now (12-38) as a head coach, which gives him the second-lowest winning percentage (.240) among coaches with at least 50 games under their belt.

“We’ve just got to get it right,” Bradley said. “You’re not defined by one game. I think if this brings us to the right places … That’s my concern right now, is to make sure this game, this experience that we had, elevates our play and takes us to the right place. That’s purely all the conversation we’re having with our team right now.”

Jacksonville better get it together soon or Bradley’s job could be in serious jeopardy.

Buffalo Bills – Rex Ryan tends to talk a good game, but his team has failed to back him up.

On a positive note, Buffalo has lost both games by a combined total of only 12 points, but almost isn’t good enough in this league. No matter how you slice it, the Bills are (0-2) and it’s time for concern.

Normally, it’s simple to pinpoint the identity of a Rex led ball club, but things are different at this point. Following a hard-fought 13-7 defeat versus the Baltimore Ravens, many attributed the offensive woes to Sammy Watkins not playing.

However, the defense looked stout.

Then as you fast-forward to game two, Buffalo loses in a 37-31 shootout against the New York Jets.

Now, we’re left wondering who are the Bills?

Well, we’re going to find out very soon as Buffalo plays Arizona and New England in back-to-back weeks.

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.

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