The AFC is a scary conference in 2022 for a whole host of reasons. Trades, splash signings, and surprises all around turned this conference into a fierce gauntlet (on paper). With a vast majority of the NFL’s best teams stuck on our side of the fence, how do they match up? We’re ranking every AFC team based on how much of a threat they pose to the Buffalo Bills on their road to the Super Bowl this season. Let’s get into it.
1.) Kansas City Chiefs
Until proven otherwise, there’s only one top dog in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs were neck and neck with us this season, but when it came down to luck, they took home the ‘W’. Now, they’ve lost their fastball, and Buffalo has gained talent in nearly every position of weakness. We might be the best team in the AFC, but we’ll need to prove it against KC in the postseason if we want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February. Much like the last three games, we’ll be visiting KC this season.
2.) Indianapolis Colts
Many wouldn’t have the Colts this high, but they’d be wrong. Indianapolis is a great team, and the addition of a good veteran passer in Matt Ryan is what the offense needed. They’re one of the best ‘Other 52’ teams in the league, and with the quarterback problem solved they should consider themselves contenders. The Titans don’t have a stranglehold on the weak AFC South after all. This is a two-horse race.
3.) Tennessee Titans
The AFC’s reigning #1 seed lost their only playoff game to the Bengals, proving that if you can’t win in the postseason, what is it all for? They haven’t gotten better in free agency yet, and were widely considered the least impressive #1 seed in recent memory. They’re still a very tough out, and their strengths match up with the Buffalo’s weaknesses, so don’t overlook them. They visit Buffalo this season, a mild change from our seemingly-annual trips to Nashville.
4.) Los Angeles Chargers
The AFC West is no longer a sure thing for the Chiefs, as the loss of Tyreek Hill might be the difference maker. The Chargers are yet another great team in the NFL’s scariest division. Trading for Khalil Mack to pair across from Joey Bosa can only improve their impressive defensive line, and they’ll need that if they come up against the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs.
5.) Las Vegas Raiders
Vegas, who were already a playoff contender, made plenty of moves to start free agency. Trading for WR Davante Adams brings a huge boost to their passing game. Meanwhile, signing LB/DE Chandler Jones allows for further disruption from one of the league’s most disciplined defenses. Derek Carr is coming off a huge season and this team has as good an opportunity as anyone to win the AFC West.
6.) Denver Broncos
How could we count out the Broncos? Sure, they’re the last-ranked team in their division, but every part of the AFC West is a worthy opponent. We referred to the Colts as one of the best ‘Other 52’ teams in the league, but the other team was Denver. The Broncos could contend for the AFC South or North, but they look like the short straw in the West.
7.) Baltimore Ravens
Last time we met, the Buffalo Bills ran away (rather literally, if you ask Taron Johnson) with the playoff win. That was over a year ago, and much has changed since then. Baltimore was brutalized by the injury bug before the season even started, losing most of their cornerbacks and all of their running backs. Lamar Jackson got hurt too, and they never recovered. As the team bounces back from injuries, so too do their odds of competing in the postseason. They can win the division again, but Buffalo should still be excited at the prospect of hosting them in January. But, for now, they visit them in the regular season.
8.) Cincinnati Bengals
The AFC Champions aren’t that scary, if we’re being honest. They looked good enough in the playoffs, but didn’t really ‘wow’ anyone. They beat contending opponents having bad days, but will find themselves in a tougher division this season. Winning the AFC North is going to be harder with the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, the return of a healthy Lamar Jackson, and whatever is going on in Cleveland when that situation finally clears up. The Buffalo Bills visit the Bengals this season.
9.) Miami Dolphins
Dolphin fans may not like that they’re so far down this list, but they should just be happy they’re second-best in the AFC East. The Bills have dominated Miami over the past four seasons, and lucky number five will be no exception. Miami did have a great offseason, setting Tua Tagovailoa up for success, but it likely won’t be enough. They’re fighting for a playoff spot this year, and its a tough race. Still, they have a good chance, seeing as their two games against the New York Jets gives them an edge.
10.) Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns visit the Buffalo Bills this season, but there are too many question marks. I won’t get into the Watson debacle here, but I will say this: Baker Mayfield brought a lot of good to Cleveland, and played through a torn labrum trying to get them to the playoffs. Now, the team might not even trade him, with Watson’s potential suspension causing uncertainty. So, which QB will be under center when we play them? Will it matter? The Browns might be a mess, but that makes them hard to predict, and any length of time without their starting QB affects their record, and delays their playoff hunt. For that reason, they’re 10th.
11.) New England Patriots
New England made strides last season, much like Miami did in 2020. Much like Miami in 2021’s offseason, they followed up by doing absolutely nothing. The AFC got a lot better, and the Patriots stagnated. New England has a slim chance at the playoffs this season, and it gets slimmer with every move each other team makes. They overpaid for mediocre last season, and put themselves in a bad position now. They have to hope they draft well. But, even then, a winning season is a long shot.
12.) Pittsburgh Steelers
We all remember our last time hosting the Steelers: the 2021 season opener. The season went on to be a success, but that bad note soured the start of it. Still, the pressure of a perfect season was off (as if that’s some consolation). Now, former Buffalo Bills legend Mitch Trubisky is competing for the starting job and the Steelers could benefit from it. Still, they’re missing too much to compete right now. We host them again in 2022.
13.) New York Jets
The Jets are one of the NFL’s dumpsters and desperately in need of refreshing. They made some good moves, but nothing that will drudge them up from the depths of the AFC. Zach Wilson was unimpressive, especially for a #2 pick, and Robert Saleh hasn’t done enough to prove he’s a viable solution at head coach yet. This team needs time.
14.) Houston Texans
Houston is still reeling from the aftermath of some of the league’s wildest action ever. The past two years have been a rollercoaster and half the fans probably wanted off, but it’s over now. Watson is gone, Davis Mills has flashed, and they’ve got enough draft capital to build a real team. Now is the time to lay the foundations for future success. They can’t really compete in the AFC whilst they do that.
15.) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are not a threat. Sure, we may have lost embarrassingly to the Jaguars this past season. However, as a firm believer of living in denial, no we didn’t. They’re really bad, and will continue to be that way until we see some significant growth from Trevor Lawrence.