Much like my article from last week, we are exploring teams who had a losing record in 2017 who I believe could potentially come back and win a Super Bowl under the right circumstances, this time in the AFC. Admittedly, I feel a bit less confident in this group of teams, seeing as they may not stand a chance in the AFC championship, AKA the New England Patriots invitational.
#3 The Indianapolis Colts: 2017 Record: 4-12
The Colts seemingly fell off for no apparent reason, well, one apparent reason. Andrew Luck was the harbinger of doom for opposing teams, until a 2015 shoulder injury interrupted his play a bit, the Colts have since functioned with an Andrew Luck who wasn’t at 100 percent, or backup QBs since Luck’s surgery to fix his shoulder. With a healthy Luck (possibly) back this season, there’s no reason the Colts can’t have some success. Very few teams can be successful with little but an all-time-great quarterback, but the Colts and Andrew Luck can be that, if he can rise to that level of play again this season.
#2 The Oakland Raiders: 2017 Record: 6-10
Wow, California’s Bay Area sports fans sure are happy right now, except the ones who prefer football. The Oakland Raiders went from boasting the higher record in the Bay Area, and even a shiny playoff appearance, to falling right back down to the level of the Niners, ending 2017 with the exact same record. Oakland had a nice 2016 campaign, going 12-4 with the help of a gun-slinging Derek Carr and company, and in the offseason going into 2017, they lost almost nothing, and gained veteran running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch. They were set to have an even better season, but with the spasms in Derek Carr’s back, they played a few games without a starting quarterback, or sometimes a healthy one.
Last season seemed like an exception to the Raiders new expectations, and with new head coach Jon Gruden in the building, expectations are higher, and they could be the team in the AFC to take down New England.
#1 Houston Texans: 2017 Record: 4-12
Houston, we have a quarterback. Deshaun Watson was undeniably one of the hottest quarterbacks in Weeks 2-8, and he had lots of potential to bring to a Texans team with no JJ Watt to the division title. Then every athletes worst nightmare happened. Well, maybe the worst excessively common nightmare happened to him. Tearing his ACL after his record breaking 19 touchdown slate in his first 7 career games. Deshaun Watson is now coming off of his second knee injury, which is scary, but if his recovery went well, he will be in perfect shape to hopefully keep breaking records. With JJ Watt returning, Jadeveon Clowney finally approaching his star potential, and huge acquisitions like Tyrann Mathieu and Aaron Colvin, the Texans could have one of the best defenses in the league to help out that stellar offense.
Lamar Miller, Deshaun Watson, and Deandre Hopkins can lead a top 5 offense, JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Tyrann Mathieu, and Jadeveon Clowney can lead a top 5 defense, and with those pieces in place, the Texans seem to be one of the best teams to come out of the AFC next year, not just out of those with losing records.