2014 NFL preview: AFC predictions

AFC EAST

1. NEW ENGLAND (predicted finish: 12-4)

The Patriots remain the standard in the AFC East and should be back in the final four once again.

2. N.Y. JETS (6-10)

They could make a playoff push if everything breaks right. The issue is that things rarely break right for the Jets.

3. MIAMI (7-9)

The revamped offensive line must come together quickly if Ryan Tannehill has a chance to lead this team anywhere.

4. BUFFALO (4-12)

There are too many new faces on the roster for the Bills to have faith in doing anything this season.

AFC SOUTH

1. INDIANAPOLIS (11-5)

Andrew Luck should look even better with Reggie Wayne healthy. This could be the year the Colts become elite.

2. HOUSTON (9-7)

Last year was a fluke. Even with a new coach in Bill O’Brien, this team is far too talented not to rebound this season.

3. TENNESSEE (6-10)

Things are starting to come together for the Titans. It’s probably just too soon for them to get there.

4. JACKSONVILLE (3-13)

Another team that has put together some talented pieces. But like the Titans, the Jaguars need a year to marinate.

AFC NORTH

1. CINCINNATI (10-6)

Andy Dalton is going to have to prove he’s worth his contract for this talented team to go anywhere.

2. BALTIMORE (9-7)

They’re still in transition, but they should be healthier than they were a year ago. Does Steve Smith have enough left?

3. PITTSBURGH (8-8)

The Steelers could make a run at the division title if their revamped running game harvests results.

4. CLEVELAND (5-11)

It doesn’t matter who plays quarterback if Josh Gordon isn’t on the field to catch passes.

AFC WEST

1. DENVER (12-4)

The Broncos are still the class of the AFC and should make another run at the Super Bowl — if they survive a tough schedule.

2. SAN DIEGO (9-7)

Will Andy Reid really make that much of a difference? Well, they probably can’t do much worse, can they?

3. KANSAS CITY (6-10)

The Chiefs have lost some talent and haven’t replenished the coffers. Expect them to take a step backward.

4. OAKLAND (4-12)

The skid continues. It’s hard to find many things to get excited about when looking at the Raiders’ roster.

AFC PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

Wild-card round: Chargers over Bengals, Colts over Ravens

Divisional round: Patriots over Colts, Broncos over Chargers

AFC Championship: Patriots over Broncos

Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks over Patriots