NFL Picks & Scouts Player Grading: AFC Predictions

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 5:50 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2015 5:50 PM UTC

We share part 2 of the scouts player ratings book, which can be valuable when looking over the NFL odds for futures. This time we'll take it all the way to the AFC division.

In Part 2, what this article explains is how scouts view players on teams from their perspective and color-code them. Here we have three colors that rate the players on offense, defense and special teams, with Blue (Pro Bowl or All-Division), Red (Above Average) and Purple (A little above average talent and or hard-working).

This grading system only pertains to players that played in the NFL and does not include rookies.

While this not an exact science, as an NFL football handicapper or someone making NFL picks, this is a good exercise to compare against the betting odds. Here is a look at the AFC.


AFC East

New England -18 (7-Blue, 3-Red and 8-Purple)

Buffalo -14 (4-Blue, 4-Red and 6-Purple)

N.Y. Jets -12 (5-Blue, 5-Red and 2-Purple)

Miami -12 (3-Blue, 5-Red and 4-Purple)

Overview - The Super Bowl champion Patriots are still considered the most talented team in the AFC, no matter how long Tom Brady will be told to sit out. New England is the second pick in the conference (+450), but that could change if Brady's presumed suspension is reduced. What is most impressive about the scouts grading is the top to bottom depth of the Pats color chart. Buffalo is next in line by the scouts and they have nine players on defense that are considered above average. Because of present quarterback situation, the Bills only rank third in the division according to sportsbooks and seventh in the AFC at +1450. Most would agree Miami is better than the Jets, yet the Dolphins are hardly dripping talent. With coach Joe Philbin still an unknown, if Miami misses the playoffs, a head coach position will be open next January in South Florida.


AFC North

Cincinnati -15 (4-Blue, 5-Red and 6-Purple)

Baltimore -13 (5-Blue, 6-Red and 2-Purple)

Pittsburgh -11 (6-Blue, 2-Red and 3-Purple)

Cleveland -9 (2-Blue, 6-Red and 1-Purple)

Overview - Far and away the most intriguing division in the conference with Cincinnati used third for NFL picks in the division and eighth in the AFC despite what appears to be a talent edge. This points to the quarterback position and to a lesser degree the head coach, where both Baltimore +1000 and Pittsburgh +1175 at 5Dimes have edges. The Bengals (+1500) have the ability, but do they have these two key intangibles? The Ravens edge is on the defensive side, having basically already rebuilt there stop troops while the Steelers are still in the process. Hard to move Pittsburgh up without increased reliability on defense. Though Cleveland improved a year ago, there is little reason to believe they will escape the AFC North cellar.


AFC South

Indianapolis -12 (4-Blue, 4-Red and 4-Purple)

Houston -8 (4-Blue, 3-Red and 1-Purple)

Jacksonville -7 (0-Blue, 3-Red and 3-Purple)

Tennessee -6 (0-Blue, 2-Red and 4-Purple)

Overview - Similar to the South Division in the NFC, the AFC South is really lacking in talent, which makes Indianapolis work less complicated. Should the Colts (+400) really be the favorite in this conference? Though not blessed with overwhelming skill, they do have players who should improve and New England and Denver are not trending upwards, with most of the AFC either in neutral or heading backwards. Houston has a few brand name players, but Jacksonville and Tennessee are not close to being thought of like Minnesota who have several strong pillars and is building.


AFC West

Denver -11 (7-Blue, 2-Red and 2-Purple)

Kansas City -11 (7-Blue, 4-Red and 0-Purple)

San Diego -7 (3-Blue, 2-Red and 2-Purple)

Oakland -6 (1-Blue, 2-Red and 3-Purple)

Overview - Kansas City (+1650) can hunt down Denver (+575) despite what the NFL odds suggest. Yes the Broncos still have good quality talent on both sides of the ball, but with a new coaching staff, different schemes and Peyton Manning approaching 40 with each passing day, their window to winning a Super Bowl is closing quickly. The Chiefs biggest weakness, at least in the scouts eyes, is not enough quality supportive players to compliment the stars. The Chargers are at best a .500 club and Philip Rivers 18 interceptions last year shows when San Diego is trailing, he's going to let it fly, for better or worse. Oakland is finally starting to assemble better, younger players, but is three years away from considered upper tier in the AFC.

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