Joes Mixon and Burrow are a formidable pair for the Bengals.
Joes Mixon and Burrow are a formidable pair for the Bengals.@Bengals on Twitter

National Football League AFC 2022 Preview: Garry Cobb sees Buffalo, Colts, Wild West battle, tight North

The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC last year, but they will get a lot of competition to get out of the conference from their own division, let alone the AFC

Former 11-year National Football League player Garry Cobb, who is now a analyst for FOX 29 in Philadelphia, spoke to recently to give his thoughts on the upcoming 2022 NFL season.

Here are his thoughts on the AFC.

What are your thoughts on the opening primetime game and the Buffalo Bills?

I have talked a lot about quarterbacks, and I think one of the guys people are talking about the most is Josh Allen. I ran into him at the Super Bowl last year, and I almost fainted! The guy is like 6-5, 6-6, and he looks like a big tight end or a defensive end, and he is a quarterback. He is big and strong, and we all know what a great arm he has got. They have a lot of weapons in Buffalo, so Josh Allen, and the Buffalo Bills, think this is their time.

I think this might be their time, because they came so close. They had that playoff game against Kansas City when they really didn’t get a chance to come back and match the score by the Chiefs in overtime. They really put a lot of pressure on the NFL to change the rule.

But Josh Allen, I think he is really the most impressive quarterback: his athleticism, his size, the strength of his arm. It looks like the guy can throw the ball the length of the field if he wanted to; he has that strong of an arm. He is a special player, so I am looking forward to seeing him, and to see whether he can step in here and shock some people. They have a team that is hungry to win. Sean McDermott was a coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, so I know him very well. He is very hungry to win, and he was not happy with the way things finished last year. They want to show everyone that they can win the whole thing.

Can any team in the AFC East challenge the Bills?

The New England Patriots started well last year, but they faded a bit. Patriots’ teams don’t normally do that at the end, but you had that young quarterback, Mac Jones, so you can kind of understand that. He was a rookie quarterback playing for them.

I think the division is going to come down to what they can do down in Miami. Can Tua (Tagovailoa), the quarterback of the Dolphins, can he be the quarterback everyone thought he was going to be? He was the fifth pick in the NFL Draft, but there are questions about him. He has some big-time weapons now, so Tua is going to be the key.

Miami has brought in some good defensive players, they have added some offensive weapons for Tua, and everyone is going to be watching to see if Tua can be the quarterback that they thought he was, when they drafted him number five.

He has that relationship with Jalen Hurts, in that both of them played at Alabama. Tua came in and took the starting job from Jalen, and played in that great championship game, when he came in at halftime and brought them back to win the championship. Then Jalen left and went to Oklahoma. We are going to see about Tua.

Everything is about these quarterbacks. He is going to be the key in Miami, but I really don’t think they are ready for Buffalo.

AFC North has the defending conference champions, but will the Bengals win the division?

I think you have to look at Cincinnati first, because they went to the Super Bowl. They have Joe Burrow, who took them to the Super Bowl in his second year. They should be a team that is tough. But I expect Baltimore to rebound. They are just too good of a football team to just fall all the way apart. Even though Lamar Jackson is going through this thing with his contract, to rebound. I think that defense they have is going to show up.

But it is going to be interesting. I have not seen a team fall apart like that before with all of those injuries. We will see what happens. He has not signed his contract, and I don’t know how he feels about that. Sometimes, that can poison a team. I thought Baltimore did a poor job with that. If you are not taking care of the head guy, your best player, your key player, and you are still trying to work out a deal all the way to the wire rather than get a deal done even if you play him a little more than you wanted to, you want to have him happy. The leader of the team, you want him happy, because he is going to keep everybody else happy. I am going to see if that plays into this year with Baltimore. But they have a good defense, they have a good running game, they have Lamar Jackson, so I expect them to be back in the hunt.

The Steelers, they are not ready; I think they are going to be out of the mix for a little bit.

The Browns, they are a very talented team, but what is going on at the quarterback position? They could be a player. They are a very talented team. Nick Chubb as a running back, they have Amari Cooper, you have some outstanding receivers. Deshaun Watson, maybe he plays some this year. If he plays after 11 games, the guy is a great quarterback, and he is going to take them to another level. If you look at their defense, Myles Garrett, Jadaveon Clowney, if they can get Watson on the field, I think they are a playoff team.

How good is the AFC West, and who might be the favorite to win it?

This is probably the best division in football, really, when you think about it. You have Russell Wilson going there for Denver. Like I have said, this is a quarterback league. You have Derek Carr with Las Vegas, and they are going to be better. You have Justin Herbert with the Chargers, who I might have to apologize to: when I was talking about Josh Allen, he is also a great young quarterback with a big arm and unlimited potential. They were in the hunt, and most likely will be in the hunt again.

So you have those four quarterbacks, Russell Wilson, who is as good as there is in the game, Justin Herbert, and Derek Carr. Then you have the guy that is probably the best of all of them, Patrick Mahomes. How do you have that class of quarterbacks in one division?

It might be the best four quarterbacks at one division at this time in their career ever. I don’t know how you can say there was a better grouping. Those four guys, with their type of talent. That is an outstanding group. But it is going to come down to how healthy the teams stay.

We are going to be able to see if the Chiefs are going to be able to replace the speed they let go this offseason, getting rid of a burner like Tyreek Hill. But Patrick Mahomes has been the key. And Andy Reid – I know him very well from all of his time with the Eagles – he has been able to work with different types of players. He has been able to work with guys and have a potent offense, so you have to think with Patrick Mahomes still there, I think they are going to be a potent offense like they have in the past.

But it is going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Russell Wilson is a winner. He should really have two championships, at least, after the one they gave away to New England. Run the ball! That really broke up that team. I know quite a few of the defensive players were through with the team once they lost that game. There was no explanation for throwing the ball on that play. But that is all water under the bridge. That AFC West is going to be a great battle. There are going to be a lot of high-scoring games, we are going to see games going down to the wire, and likely we are going to see these quarterbacks battling each other.

It is going to be a lot of fun: like they say, the “Wild, Wild West”.

Which could be a team like the Cincinnati Bengals that come out of nowhere to challenge?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Indianapolis makes some noise, too. Indianapolis has a very good running game, a good defense, and they made the change at the quarterback position to Matt Ryan. You brought him in instead of Carson Wentz. You have Jonathan Taylor, maybe the best running back in the NFL now. And don’t forget, they have a backup quarterback in Nick Foles: who knows, maybe he can pull it off again if Matt Ryan were to get hurt. But the Colts also have an outstanding defense.

Who is the best team in the AFC conference, and who wins the conference title?

I am going to say Buffalo in the AFC. Not just because Josh Allen is a special player, or they added so much talent to their roster. Last year, they had a great secondary, but they didn’t have any pass rush. But they went out and got Von Miller: Von Miller can rush the passer. I think he is going to be a shot in the arm. They have added some other guys who are better pass rushers, and I think they are going to be able to get to the quarterback. And with Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, they are going to score points.

And this might be the biggest thing: I think they are very hungry. They were a team that was in pain when they lost that AFC Divisional Game to Kansas CIty. They are hungry to go to the next level, so I expect Buffalo to be the team from the AFC. It is going to be tough over there, because Kansas CIty is still there, and there are so many other good teams that we have talked about. Cleveland is a good team with Deshaun Watson, Baltimore is a good team, Cincinnati was in the Super Bowl, the Colts we talked about, you have Tennessee who had the best record in the AFC last year, and they are going to be back. You look at the AFC West, all of those teams are going to be in the hunt.

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