No sooner had Tom Brady’s Hail Mary dropped to the turf in the final play of Super Bowl 46 then talk began about the 2012-13 season. Will that Pats' lead the way once again in the AFC, or will a new leader emerge next season?
After the Giants beat the Patriots 21-17 to win their second NFL title in four years, the clamor among AFC fans, to paraphrase; “The King (Brady) is dead. Long live the King”. That’s a traditional proclamation made following the accession of a new monarch in various countries, such as the United Kingdom but here in the states it’s being used to proclaim the end of the New England Patriots in the NFL.
Granted the Pats came up short (again) to the Giants, but anyone predicting a quick demise for the AFC champions might think again. As long as Brady is wearing a helmet and Bill Belichick is donning a headset, New England will still be a factor. Several sports betting establishments have released their NFL betting futures for next season with New England lined at 7/1 to win the AFC title.
If time has run out on the fellows from Foxbourough, then who are the teams ready to displace them at the top? Here are some possibilities, as well as the NFL odds for the top contenders in the AFC nest season.
Baltimore Ravens (12/1)
The Ravens defense is still the heart and soul of the team, but they are getting old in a hurry. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are great players, but well past their prime. The offense is the problem, and you can quote me on this; Baltimore will never reach the big game unless they upgrade at quarterback.
Sorry, but Joe Flacco has had time to make his
case and its evident that he’s not and probably never will be an elite NFL
quarterback. To put it another way, the Ravens signal caller is more Jay
Cutler or Kyle Orton than he is Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees.
Houston Texans (12/1)
The Houston Texans made great strides this year, finally making the playoffs and picking up a victory. With Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson returning, Houston is young, talented and hungry. They should continue to get better and now that the Colts have relinquished their grip on the division, the Texans are poised to take over as the team to beat in the AFC South.
Pittsburgh Steelers (12/1)
The Steelers have many of the same concerns as do the Ravens. The defense is solid but getting older and has become more injury prone. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is starting to show some wear and tear plus the running game hasn’t been of much help in recent years. The window of opportunity is closing on Pittsburgh, who needs an infusion of youth either through the draft or via free agency.
San Diego Chargers (15/1)
Did the Chargers do the right thing in keeping head coach Norv Turner despite another disappointing season? In this situation I’ll say yes. Most of the teams ranked above the Bolts are aging and showing some cracks in the foundation, and by keeping Turner, San Diego keeps some consistency That could be the difference between just making the playoffs or getting to the championship game.
What I learned from last season is that there aren’t any dynasties in the NFL but several very good teams. The AFC is wide open in 2012-13, and any of the top five early betting choices could win the conference title, or perhaps a sleeper team—think Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans or Cincinnati Bengals-- could rock the proverbial playoff boat.
The King might be dead this week, but come September I think he’ll be alive and well with a target on his back.