Regardless of its file, each NFL workforce has issues — some huge, others small. Within the AFC North, the highlight (unsurprisingly) is on quarterbacks. Within the AFC West, a Tremendous Bowl contender has a serious difficulty that impacts its league MVP candidate. Within the AFC East and South, in the meantime, groups have questions on head coaches.
As decided by Yardbarker NFL writers, right here is the worst concern for every AFC workforce:
BUFFALO BILLS | WR Stefon Diggs’ struggles sabotage playoff hopes: The All-Professional continues to be cruising to a different 100-catch, 1,000-yard season, however Diggs’ manufacturing has fallen since mid-October. Since posting 5 100-yard video games in his first six video games, Diggs has failed to achieve that mark in his final seven, and if that development continues, he might price Buffalo (7-6) a playoff spot.
MIAMI DOLPHINS | Concern of being a “pretender” is confirmed: After blowing a 14-point lead with lower than three minutes left to Tennessee in Week 14, doubts are mounting for the Dolphins (9-4), who nonetheless have not crushed a workforce this season with a successful file on the time of their matchup. Nevertheless, with video games towards Dallas, Baltimore and Buffalo to close the regular season, we’ll quickly discover out whether or not the Dolphins are able to making noise within the playoffs.
NEW YORK JETS | QB Zach Wilson earns subsequent season’s backup job: He turned in a career-best efficiency in a 30-6 win over Houston in Week 14 — his first begin following a two-game benching — ending 27-of-36 passing for 301 yards and two TD passes. The Jets would possibly hesitate to chop ties with Wilson if he continues excelling, however a extra succesful backup is required, as 2024 would seemingly be a repeat of this season if Aaron Rodgers suffers one other important harm.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS | HC Invoice Belichick pulls a Lovie Smith: In response to NBC Sports activities Boston’s Tom E. Curran, the Patriots will transfer on from their six-time Tremendous Bowl-winning head coach this offseason, which is not a shock contemplating their 3-10 file. Nevertheless, if Belichick has petty motives — or just desires to exit on high — it is attainable he undermines New England’s probabilities of drafting a franchise quarterback by successful an in any other case meaningless recreation, as Smith did in Week 18 last season for Houston. — Colum Dell
DENVER BRONCOS | Passing offense: The offense lacks stability, rating twenty seventh within the league in passing yards (185.8) and thirteenth in dashing yards (115 YPG). Denver should spark its passing recreation, or it might miss the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS | Their large receivers hold blowing it: The receiving corps leads the league in drops (34) and retains making silly errors late in video games — we’re looking at you, Kadarius Toney. If Kansas Metropolis’s pass-catchers don’t get their act collectively, they may cripple the workforce’s Tremendous Bowl aspirations and take a look at MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes’ endurance.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS | DE Maxx Crosby’s knee harm turns into an even bigger difficulty: By 13 video games, Crosby has performed in a career-high 97 percent of defensive snaps, and it’s apparently taking a toll, as he’s battling a lingering knee harm. The protection struggles with the star pass-rusher, too, rating thirtieth within the league in pressures (86), per Professional Soccer Reference, and would solely worsen if he has to overlook time.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS | Floor recreation retains floundering: Per the Associated Press, QB Justin Herbert underwent season-ending surgical procedure on his proper index finger Tuesday, so the workforce’s underwhelming dashing assault should step up. L.A. ranks twenty sixth within the league in dashing yards (96 YPG), and star RB Austin Ekeler has averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry in 10 video games. — Clark Dalton
BALTIMORE RAVENS | The harm bug bites once more: The one factor that may cease the Ravens, who’ve the fourth-best offense and second-best defense in factors per recreation, is poor well being. Baltimore was one-and-done within the playoffs a yr in the past after QB Lamar Jackson suffered a sprained PCL late within the season, and it absolutely hopes it could actually keep wholesome this time round.
CLEVELAND BROWNS | One other quarterback harm: Veteran QB Joe Flacco stands out as the savior of the season — he has handed for 565 yards and 5 touchdowns the previous two video games. If Flacco have been to endure a major harm, nonetheless, the workforce must flip again to rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, seemingly ending Cleveland’s Tremendous Bowl aspirations.
CINCINNATI BENGALS | Joe Burrow suffers a setback: Backup QB Jake Browning has performed nicely currently, however he will not get the Bengals to the Tremendous Bowl this season. The main focus ought to as a substitute be on Burrow, who’s recovering from a torn ligament in his throwing wrist, and ensuring he is totally wholesome for an additional Tremendous Bowl run in 2024.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS | Kenny Pickett isn’t the man: He’s anticipated to overlook one other recreation or two as he recovers from ankle surgical procedure, however the Steelers ought to be capable of get one other have a look at their 2022 first-round choose earlier than the season ends. If he continues to wrestle, the Steelers might want to add QB to their rising listing of offseason wants. — Aaron Becker
HOUSTON TEXANS | Dameon Pierce isn’t simply having a down yr: After a promising rookie season (939 dashing yards), the 23-year-old working again has been underwhelming in Yr 2, dashing for simply 391 yards on 133 carries and averaging almost 1.5 yards fewer per carry (2.9 to 4.3). For the Texans to be a menace within the AFC, QB C.J. Stroud wants a reliable run recreation to take stress off his shoulders. Houston could have to ask itself if Pierce is the man.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS | QB Anthony Richardson isn’t the identical after surgical procedure on AC joint: He had season-ending surgical procedure on his throwing arm in October, and whereas his prognosis for a full restoration is nice, procedures similar to his at all times include the chance that the participant gained’t be pretty much as good as he was earlier than. The Colts invested so much in Richardson after drafting him fourth total, they usually can’t afford for him to be something lower than he was previous to Week 1.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS | Trevor Lawrence isn’t an elite QB1: It has been almost three full seasons because the Jags took Lawrence No. 1 total, however he has but to ascend into that top-10 quarterback dialog. He has had good video games and proven flashes, however he ranks eleventh in completion proportion (66.6), fifteenth in passer score (91.2) and sixteenth in landing passes (17) this season. Jacksonville could have to return to phrases with the prospect of Lawrence being an above-average-but-not-elite QB.
TENNESSEE TITANS | Mike Vrabel desires out of Tennessee: With head coach Invoice Belichick’s standing in New England unsure, there can be whispers Vrabel desires to go away city to educate the workforce he performed for from 2001-08. The Titans look like all-in on Vrabel, but does he feel the same about them? — Michael Gallagher