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The AFC: A preview of the 2013 season

The 2012 AFC season finished with Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens winning the Vince Lombardi trophy. It was a season that showed what heart, passion and determination could do for a team. Lewis had announced that he would retire at the end of the season. He did it just in time for the playoff run. What would transpire would be a story of determination and commitment that personifies Lewis’ career. A career full of highlights that ended with a Super Bowl.
This year the fight continues for supremacy in the AFC. The reigning champs do not look the part of a team ready to defend their title. Instead, there are other teams looking to make it to the top of the conference and claim the trophy. Let’s take a peek and see who’s who and what teams have the best chance.

The Denver Broncos are one of the teams to beat in the AFC. They bring back future hall of famer Peyton Manning and an offense that adds Wes Welker to receiving corps. They also added the likes of Louis Vasquez, Quentin Jammer and Shaun Phillips. Draft picks Sylvester Williams and Montee Ball will help solidify an already potent team. With a healthy Manning and an improved defense, the Broncos look to finish atop the West again. This time they hope they have found the missing pieces to get that Super Bowl they were built to win, or the season will be a bust.

The New England Patriots are at a crossroad where they find themselves with questions. When will Rob Gronkowski be back to play? Will it even be this year? What happens to the TE position after the drama of the Aaron Hernandez story? Can Tom Brady lead a depleted receiving corps and his team on his own? So many questions with few answers at this point of the offseason. Head coach Bill Belichcik is still one of the game’s best coaches, but even time catches up to you there too. The defense will have to get better if they have a shot to win the AFC. Other teams will continue to have a target on them and they cannot afford to lose anyone else. Still, when you have Brady running your offense, your chances are as good as anyone’s.

The Houston Texans are one of the favorites in the AFC because of their defense. J.J. Watt leads a unit that when unleashed, is one of the best in the league. They added future hall of famer Ed Reed to the defensive backfield. He will fill a need the team has had for quite some time. No longer will teams be able to exploit Houston in centerfield. Reed will also bring leadership to a team in need of that. QB Matt Shaub has performed well, but has yet to make a postseason impact. He, along with RB Arian Foster, will be expected to carry the load on offense. Head coach Gary Kubiak may be back on the hot seat if Houston cannot make a deep run in the playoffs this year. It will take a mammoth effort, but with the talent the Texans have, anything is possible.

After a miserable 2-14 season, the Indianapolis Colts found themselves a little Luck. Andrew Luck came into the league with a lot of expectations. He just finished up four years at Stanford and was touted as the best thing since sliced bread. He lived up to the billing and then some as he took the Colts from two wins to an 11-5 record. His on field maturity was a thing of beauty to witness. We saw him have a flair for the dramatic and finish some games in style. He will be expected to improve on that performance and challenge Houston for the AFC South. In order for that to happen, the team will need an all-out effort from more than just Luck. They will need to improve a defense that gave up too many yards and points last year. They will need to give Luck more time to throw and create plays. They say football takes time to learn and be successful at. In the case of Luck and the Colts, they hope that the learning curve has been reached now.

~Ralph Garcia, CEO

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