AFC East: New England Patriots
AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South: Houston Texans
AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs
Wild cards: Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers
AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots
AFC Champions: Chiefs
Super Bowl LIV: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl Champions: Saints
After in-depth debate, the PFN staff has decided the conference that’s been dominated by the New England Patriots will have a new heir this season— the Kansas City Chiefs.
Before we get to our conference championship and Super Bowl matchup, let’s explain how we landed on the Chiefs and who they had to go through in the AFC before getting a crack at the Super Bowl LIV title in Miami.
It’s a bit of the same old story for the AFC playoff picture. The veteran-led teams who have lived atop the AFC in recent years look to be slated to return to their playoff post. The Cleveland Browns are the only new name that fits into the AFC playoff puzzle as the rest of the list fills out with teams who have been to the postseason in recent years.
Baker Mayfield headlines what looks to be one of the most talented rosters on paper. Cleveland’s offense is filled with burst while it’s defense provides the boom.
While the Browns have the ascension of the Chiefs, they don’t have an experienced coach like Andy Reid captaining the ship. The 2019-20 season is just the start for the Browns, but it’s safe to say PFN believes in the hype by giving them a wild card nod.
With the shocking news of Andrew Luck’s retirement, the Houston Texans are the team that benefits the most, sliding past the Colts in the AFC South to secure a playoff bid. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers steal a wild card spot after coming in behind the Chiefs in the AFC West.
It’s no Le’Veon, no AB, and no problem for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they head back to their place atop the AFC North with the Browns and Ravens right on their heels.
No matter what teams look like they’re destined for a playoff run in the AFC, they still have to go through the nightmare that is the New England Patriots. As last year taught many of us, don’t ever count out Tom Brady, and PFN did not.
It’s a repeat of last year’s AFC Championship game with the Chiefs getting a rematch against the Patriots for a spot in the Super Bowl. While the Patriots have to find a way to make up for the loss of Rob Gronkowski, the Chiefs added more talent on both sides of the ball.
The Chiefs added firepower to their offense with rookies Darwin Thompson and Mecole Hardman. Defensively, they were able to replace Dee Ford with Frank Clark while significantly upgrading their secondary with Juan Thornhill, Tyrann Mathieu, and Bashaud Breeland. All that plus the second full season of defending NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes in Andy Reid’s offense.
The Chiefs defense is now good enough for them to not blow games while their offense is one of the most electric units the NFL has ever seen. Brady officially passes the AFC torch to Mahomes in 2020.
As fun as the Chiefs are, they run into the all-business buzzsaw that is the New Orleans Saints in Miami. The Saints are about as complete of a roster as you’ll see in the NFL. Sean Payton and Drew Brees will be on a warpath after falling out of the playoffs heartbreakingly the past two seasons. The Chiefs get the nod for the AFC, but can’t get past the Saints Super Bowl LIV.
-Tommy Call, PFN NFL Columnist