11. Denver Broncos
The Broncos hopes of contending for a playoff spot rely primarily on the defense which finished 10th in points allowed per game. On offense, second-year quarterback Drew Lock needs to pick up where he finished last season (4-1 record with 7 touchdowns versus 3 interceptions).
12. New England Patriots
New England had potentially the most turbulent offseason in the NFL. On defense, the Patriots lost Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins to free agency. Then they lost S Patrick Chung and LB Donta Hightower when both players opted out due to the coronavirus. On offense, losing QB Tom Brady simply cannot be measured.
With all that said, head coach Bill Belichick has finished with double-digit wins every year since 2003 so you cannot count them out of the playoff chase to begin the season.
13. Houston Texans
Despite the impressive playoff run put on by the Tennessee Titans, fans tend to forget that it was the Texans that won the AFC South last year.
For all the criticism that head coach, and de facto GM Bill O’Brien, received for trading away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans return almost all their starters from last year’s 10-6 team. As long as QB Deshaun Watson stays healthy, Houston will remain in the playoff hunt the entire season.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
Losing five starters to free agency will make HC Doug Peterson’s job all the more difficult in 2020. RB Jordan Howard will put the bulk of the running game on Miles Sanders. While the Eagles passing game will require a major contribution from 1st round pick Jalen Reagor because, outside of DeSean Jackson, the team has very little experience at wide receiver.
A team that seemed to win their division with “smoke and mirrors”, at 9-7, looks to take a step back this year.
15. Tennessee Titans
The Titans added Vic Beasley to an already stout defense but the offensive line will certainly miss the departure of Pro Bowl tackle Jack Conklin to free agency. How Tennessee does this season will rest primarily on QB Ryan Tannehill’s ability to duplicate the ‘career year’ he posted last season. If he regresses, it’s doubtful that running back Derrick Henry can singlehandedly carry the Titans offense.