The 2022-2023 NFL season is right around the corner already and features many eye-catching storylines.  Some major questions loom for contenders in the AFC like how will the Kansas City Chiefs offense function without Tyreek Hill and will Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense rebound to make a run?  Can the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans continue to dominate their respective divisions or have they lost their strangleholds to up-and-coming rivals?  Ultimately, the largest question is which team will be the last one standing in the AFC when it is all said and done? 

After one of the most eventful off-seasons in NFL history there are many high-profile players that have changed teams and in some cases have gone to the other conference.  Some notable players coming to AFC teams from the NFC this off-season are Davante Adams, Russell Wilson, Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, and Von Miller.  Not to mention the various trades and signings that moved players like Tyreek Hill and Deshaun Watson from one AFC team to another.  The AFC is sure to be very different than it was last year, although we can certainly expect some of the usual suspects to still be at the top of the AFC’s standings at season’s end.

The Buffalo Bills have one of the best offenses in the entire NFL and although their offensive coordinator left in the off-season, I don’t expect much to change.  They still have Josh Allen, currently one of the favorites to win the NFL MVP this coming season, which helps to make the Bills one of the best teams in the entire league.  They still have talented athletes at all the offensive and defensive skill positions as well.  The Bills have excellent receivers in Stefon Diggs, Dawson Knox, and Gabriel Davis to go along with a solid running game and strong offensive line.  Devin Singletary averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season and looks to build on that with an offensive line that will be pretty similar to the one he will have this coming season.  On the other side of the ball the Bills secondary is headlined by Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer.  White will be delayed in his return to action due to an ACL injury last season but hopefully once back is a solid contributor for the defense.  The Bills front 7 is also a pretty strong group and has several playmakers including Von Miller, Matt Milano, and Shaq Lawson.  Top-to-bottom the Bills are a stacked roster and are unquestionably one of the favorites to win the entire AFC. Want to find out how the Bills stack up against the Rams for the kickoff of the 2022 NFL season? Check out PicksforTonight where you can find free NFL picks against the spread for every game this season. Their computer model runs 10,000 simulations for each game and tells you exactly which side you should pick. 

Last season the Cincinnati Bengals had a solid regular season, but then once the playoffs began they were nearly impossible to beat.  It is expected that momentum will continue right into this season.  Joe Burrow is arguably the best young quarterback in the NFL and he has plenty of talent at the skill positions to potentially make another run to the Super Bowl this season.  The combination of Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd proved unstoppable for the rest of the AFC once the playoffs started.  Last year’s team struggled along the offensive line, which pushed the front office to look in free agency for upgrades.  They feel as though they made the changes that were necessary as they signed offensive tackle La’el Collins, right guard Alex Cappa, and center Ted Karras.  The Bengals defense was instrumental in going on their improbable Super Bowl run, coming up with timely plays including three interceptions of Ryan Tannehill in the AFC divisional round.  Cincinnati’s defense is anchored by defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who totaled 14 sacks in 2021.  Sam Hubbard is also coming off a strong 2021 performance, finishing second in run stop win rate among all edge defenders.  The front four are backed up by young linebackers Germain Pratt and Logan Wilson as well as safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III.  As long as the defense can be serviceable, the Bengals will always be in contention given all the weapons at Joe Burrow’s disposal.

Finally the most obvious team to be on this list is the Kansas City Chiefs and it’s due in large part to their starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes.  The Chiefs appear to be the safest bet to win the AFC.  Even with trading Tyreek Hill the Chiefs still have plenty of talent across the offense, starting with a strong offensive line that includes young talents Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, as well as veterans Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney.  Although the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill this off-season, they did bring in Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster to go along with Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce.  With Mahomes at the helm these newcomers, particularly Smith-Schuster, are pretty much guaranteed to increase their productivity as long as they can stay on the field.  Clyde Edwards-Helaire returns as the team’s starting running back and is first in line for touches ahead of off-season addition Ronald Jones II.  The only question mark for the Kansas City Chiefs is how their defense will perform against a very strong AFC West.  The headliners of the defense are newly signed safety Justin Reid and defensive lineman Chris Jones.  The Chiefs will also hope to get a better year out of defensive end Frank Clark, after he had a subpar season among his standards.  If the Chiefs are going to win the AFC it is going to be because Patrick Mahomes has another stellar year behind strong offensive line play and the defense makes timely plays in crucial moments.

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