After winning their sixth ring in franchise history, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots continued their monopoly on the league in 2018.
The team has now reached three straight super bowls, winning two of them. They are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in the league.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the New England dynasty has been their ability to rotate players in and out. All while continuing to rack up wins, something other teams haven’t been able to do.
The Jaguars followed a 2017 conference championship appearance with a 5-11 2018. The Steelers and Chiefs both appeared to be threats but have seen some of their top offensive talents dissipate.
The Patriots retain their identity thanks to the three-headed monster of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady. From there the team just has to fill in the pieces.
Despite losing Trey Flowers and Chris Hogan in free agency, as well as Rob Gronkowski to retirement, the Patriots will be top contenders once again in 2019.
Right now it’s a toss-up. The aforementioned Chiefs and Steelers lost some key offensive pieces, but should still be considered two of the top threats.
The most well-rounded team in the AFC still remains in Los Angeles with the Chargers. However, as evidenced in last years’ playoffs, Tom Brady has their number.
The Colts, Texans, and Titans should all be solid competitors in the playoff push. None though are realistically suited to defeat New England.
That leads me to the sexy pick or the new kid on the block so to speak. The up and coming Cleveland Browns.
Before criticizing the selection or thinking that perhaps I’m just riding the popular wave, take a second to think. Is there a team with as much offensive talent as the Cleveland Browns?
From Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr to Jarvis Landry to Nick Chubb to Kareem Hunt to David Njoku, the team is loaded on offense.
Chemistry may present itself as an issue, but with a still solid offensive line, the Browns are poised to be one of if not the most explosive offense in the league.
The defense remains mostly the same, other than a few changes here and there. Jabrill Peppers was traded off but Olivier Vernon joined the pass rush team.
On top of that, the Browns got the potential steal of the draft in cornerback Greedy Williams.
Head coach Freddie Kitchens will have an uphill battle in terms of the large personalities in the locker room and the media circus awaiting the Browns this year.
However, the best case scenario, the Browns have the talent and confidence to defeat the Patriots.
Picking against New England is never a safe bet. However, if there is one team with the highest ceiling of potential to knock them off, it’s the Cleveland Browns.
The Dawg Pound has a solid chance to represent the AFC come January 2020. But the question still remains. Who will stop the New England Patriots?