AFC Preview – American Football Conference – 2007/08 NFL Season ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
July 12th 2007
It looks like the American Football Conference will continue to holdthe balance of power going into the 2007 NFL season as the conferencecontains both last year’s Super Bowl champion and this season’s SuperBowl favorite.
Bdg ,one of Ultimate Capper’s preferred sportsbooks, has the New England Patriotslisted as heavy favorites to win both the 2008 AFC Championship and SuperBowl XLII.
The Patriots are 11-10 to take the AFC, followed by the San Diego Chargersat 7-2 and the 2007 Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts right behindat 9-2.
The Patriots (12-4 record last season) have made a number of significantmoves during the off-season. They’ve added WR Randy Moss, WR Donte’ Stallworth,WR Wes Welker, WR Kelley Washington, TE Kyle Brady, OLB Adalius Thomasand CB Tory James.
New England was edged 38-34 by Indianapolis in the AFC Championship lastyear, a game they may have won if QB Tom Brady had the receiving corpsthey do now. Moss is still one of the top wide outs in the NFL, but sufferedunder a series of sub-par pivots while he was with the Oakland Raiders.He’s had his share of off-field issues, but New England is a team on whichMoss can thrive without getting into trouble. WR Stallworth, who was solidfor the Philadelphia Eagles last year, will be a dependable No. 2 option.
The Patriots have solidified their defense, as well. They signed LB AdaliusThomas, a Pro Bowl-caliber player, from Baltimore. Thomas will be a welcomeaddition to a group that already features Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel andRosevelt Colvin. Junior Seau will be a solid reserve.
One thing’s for sure: If the Patriots do win the AFC and Super Bowl XLII,they’ll have deserved it. New England’s schedule is one of the toughestin the NFL, and includes matchups with San Diego, Cincinnati, Dallas,Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and the Jets twice.
The San Diego Chargers (14-2 last season), beaten 24-21 by the Patriotsin the 2007 Divisional Playoffs, should be a legitimate contender thisyear. QB Philip Rivers compiled 3,388 yards, 22 touchdowns and only nineinterceptions last season, but was a liability in the playoffs, completingjust 50 percent of his passes. Still, Rivers should be able to use thatexperience to his advantage this season.
The Chargers defense had 61 sacks last season, with Shawne Merriman leadingthe way with 17 despite being suspended for four games. Shaun Phillips,playing outside linebacker opposite of Merriman, registered 11.5 on hisown. While Merriman, Phillips and the linemen will all be back, the team’stop three inside linebackers – Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey and SteveFoley – won’t be.
But San Diego has the luxury of a soft schedule, at least after theirfirst two games. After playing Chicago and New England, the Chargers faceGreen Bay, Houston, Minnesota, Detroit and Tennessee. The defending championColts (12-4 last season) will have their offensive core back: Peyton Manning,Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Dallas Clark, and an offensive line returningall five starters that surrendered 15 sacks and allowed the team’s leadingrusher to gain 4.8 yards per carry.
The Colts have always subscribed to the theory that the best defenseis a good offense. They run up 14- and 21-point leads, forcing teams tothrow as often as possible. And it looks like that’s what they’ll be doingthis year.