RICO’s POWER RANKINGS: AFC

An Uncle Rico Production

Today marks the first multi-preseason Thursday of the upcoming NFL season. In the early game, the Houston Texans will visit Foxborough & the New England Patriots, while the second game will feature the Minnesota Vikings traveling to the Pacific Northworst & the Seattle Seahawks.

By weekend’s end, all 32 NFL teams will have played their first preseason game. A few things are sure to be in-flux over the next few weeks which will affect the Power Rankings for the NFL, but that doesn’t mean we can’t Monday Morning QB it, right now. 

Over the next few days, I will be releasing the updated versions of RICO’s POWER RANKINGS, delving into the Top 5 of each conference (plus the champs of each division), & then one overall Top 10 for the NFL.

With that being said, today’s focus will be the AFC.

POWER RANKINGS

(Star TE Travis Kelce flies above ground to make a catch)

#1: Kansas City Chiefs

The defending Super Bowl Champions retain the cores of both their offense & defense, and with future HOFers HC Andy Reid & QB Patrick Mahomes still leading the way, they look primed to repeat. The only real question mark will come at the offensive coordinator position. Longtime OC Eric Bieniemy left this offseason to help rebuild a Washington Redskins offense that has been a liability for years. Will new former Chicago Bears HC Matt Nagy be able to fill in with no dropoff?

#2: Buffalo Bills

The Bills have had disappointing ends to the past two seasons, falling short of the conference title game. Even so, if you were to start a franchise, QB Josh Allen would be at the top of the list for players you draft first. But even with all his talent, it’s the Bills’ lack of a run game that has been their achilles heel. They addressed this issue in the offseason by bringing in former Patriot RB Damien Harris & productive journeyman Latavius Murray to join talented young gun James Cook.

#3: Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals proved last season that they were no one season fluke, and they have real staying power. Led by another NFL young gun in QB Joe Burrow & physical throwback-style of play (play aggressive D & feed your beast of an RB Joe Mixon), Cincinnati has participated in the past two AFC Championship games (1-1). They have studs across the board, arguably the top trio of WRs in the league (Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, & Tyler Boyd), and have Bengals fans hoping they finish what was started four decades ago. Hi, Boomer!

#4: New York Jets

No, this is not a typo. If anything, I put the Jets too low, and that’s because of two words: 

Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers is the last man standing from the legendary quarterbacks of yesteryear, and an absolute culture-changer for the Jets. He joins a team dripping with talent waiting to be led. The ultra-young team will benefit greatly from Rodgers leadership while also boasting both the Offensive & Defensive Rookies of the Year in WR Garret Wilson & DB Sauce Gardner. The person most likely to benefit from Rodgers is former #2 overall pick & underachiever QB Zach Wilson. If the Aaron we saw on the first episode of Hard Knocks is the Aaron the Jets get for the remainder of the season, NYJ will be a team to watch out for.

POWER RANKINGS

(Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert)

#5: Los Angeles Chargers

I was moments away from gifting the #5 spot to the Miami Dolphins, but after re-evaluating both rosters, I decided to flip to LAC. One major factor is the LAC having a healthy Keenan Allen. This will drastically change the efficiency of both Justin Herbert & the LAC offense as a whole. They have studs littered across the board on defense & if head coach Brandon Staley can have 2-3 +8 minute drives a game, that should give the defense enough rest to make them a Top 5 by season’s end. And personally, I think Herbert has the potential to be an NFL great. But if he can’t do it with this team, I may have to re-evaluate that take as well.

Division Champs:

AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals

AFC East: New York Jets

AFC South: Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West: Los Angeles Chargers

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