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Mark Humphrey / Associated Press
It's still a while until the NFL regular-season opener between Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears on Sept. 5.
But we're getting there
On Wednesday, veterans and rookies reported for the Denver Broncos. Over the next week or so, players across the league will do the same. Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
Of course, that goal is more realistic than some others, and before any squad can make it to the biggest game in sports, it has to make the playoffs.
A lot can (and will) happen between now and the end of the regular season, but it's never too early for a little prognostication. NFL analyst Gary Davenport, NFL analyst.
Note: The writers who participated in this panel are NFL analyst Gary Davenport, NFL Features Lead Writer Tyler Dunne, NFL National Lead Writer Mike Freeman, NFL Analyst Brad Gagnon, Lefkoe Show Host Adam Lefkoe, NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller, NFL Analyst Brent Sobleski and NFL National Lead Writer Mike Tanier.
One of NFL's biggest stars, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, and actor Rob Riggle, stop by The Lefkoe Show to talk about Patrick Mahomes, Shark Week, and more. Check it out here.
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Gail Burton / Associated Press
Cleveland Browns (7 votes)
The times they are a-changin 'in the North AFC.
Despite the 10 games and the division a year ago,
the Baltimore Ravens did not receive a single vote to claim the AFC North. Maybe it's all the changes on defense. Baltimore's throwback offense struggled in the team's postseason loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers underwent some big changes of their own in the offseason. But NFL's National Lead Writer Mike Freeman was one of a few scribes who believes he has at least one more division left.
"This is not an extremely confident selection," Freeman said. Cleveland being king. "
That last part would." "You loose a great deal when you let Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell go." But the Steelers still have enough firepower to win a division that is transitioning from Steelers-dominated to perhaps Cleveland being king. " at this point a year ago. But as NFL National Lead Writer Mike Tanier wrote with a new head coach in Freddie Kitchens, a new superstar wide-spread in Odell Beckham Jr. and a retooled defensive line, the Browns could be a legitimate playoff contender.
"A little voice Inside my head telling me we're sleeping on the Steelers, who's still having a formidable face despite departures and have the talent to pull them together on the as soon as they realize 1998 tactics no longer work, "he said. There's so much top-tier talent on the roster with so much to prove that the Browns could outrun, outscore and out-bag everything in their path. "
Repent , The end is nigh.
Pittsburgh Steelers (19659037) 3 of 8
Ed Zurga / Associated Press
Indianapolis Colts (7 votes)
Quite a bit has changed in Indianapolis since the middle of last October.
On the 14th of that month, the Colts lost 42-34 to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium to fall to 1-5 on the season. Andrew Reich and the Colts turned things around and then some. With nine wins over their last 10 games, they became the third team in league history to make the postseason after a 1-5 start. Indy even won a playoff game, knocking off the AFC South Texas Champion in Houston.
Since that run, the Colts have done a good job of building on that momentum. Devon Funchess and rookie second-rounder Parris Campbell. Justin Houston is about to rush down the street.
As NFL's National Lead Writer Matt Miller pointed out, this team is ready to come into its own, and that's not a unanimous vote, the Colts are the The South African AFC South in 2019.
"The Indianapolis Colts were ready to take over the AFC South this year and overtake the Texans in a strong division," Miller said. "Year 2 of Frank Reich as the head coach is important, but Andrew Luck is the key to the colt's success." The maturation of the 2018 draft class plus the addition of Houston makes this one of the NFL's best Rosters. "
Indianapolis is not well-positioned for a Super Bowl this year. With more salary-cap space than any other team, it could be a force in the AFC for seasons to come.
 Houston Texans (1 vote)
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Los Angeles Chargers (6 votes)
The West AFC had a pair of 12 post-win seasons teams in 2018. Both made the postseason. Each won a playoff game.
It's no surprise that the division's viewed as a two-team race again. It is, however, a bit surprising which squad the NFL writers here picked.
After all, the Kansas City Chiefs came awfully close to a berth in Super Bowl LIII. They have the reigning NFL MVP in quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a top-ranked opener that's lit up like a video game in 2018 (425.6 yards per game).
"Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the NFL, doing things We've never seen this at the quarterback position, and NFL features lead writer Tyler Dunne said. "Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu may be the best players at their respective positions and will not allow another postseason collapse."
The Chiefs, however, so have a top wideout (Tyreek Hill) facing an uncertain future as the league investigates allegations he abused his son and a recording in which he threatens his fiancee, Crystal Espinal. Michael Mann of Sports Illustrated reported Monday that the Chiefs "expect a decision [on a possible suspension] by the start of training camp on July 23."
And their defense was among the worst in 2018, allowing 405.5 yards per game.
The Los Angeles Chargers have their own problems in the midst of the AFC Championship game.
Melvin Gordon , Keenan Allen, who made the Pro Bowl in back-to-back years-a veteran's quarterback in Philip Rivers and a much better defense than the Chiefs appear to possess.
For Brands NFL analyst Brent Sobleski,
"The Chargers finished with the same overall record as the Kansas City Chiefs last season, yet the Chiefs should regress due to multiple changes throughout the lineup (and remaining uncertainty of a potential Tyreek Hill suspension), "he said. Thomas Davis Sr. and first-round defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. "
Getting the Chargers feature a better lineup with tight end Hunter Henry's return from ACL injury and a revamped defensive front seven now. Kansas City Chiefs (2 votes)