Colin Cowherd of FS1 Sports recently revealed his top-10 teams in the AFC following the 2023 NFL Draft, and the Pittsburgh Steelers came in at No. 9, which would put them right outside of the playoffs. However, Cowherd thinks the arrow is pointing up in Pittsburgh after a robust draft haul.
“A team that stock I am buying is the Steelers,” Cowherd said. “I thought they had the best draft. They had three needs, they nailed all of them. I think their first five picks will play a lot. Also, at the end of the year, Kenny Pickett played pretty well. Five TDs and one pick over his last seven games. I don’t know if he’s a star, but getting Broderick Jones, going out upgrading the offensive line, Joey Porter, Darnell Washington a blocking tight end. Mike Tomlin doesn’t have losing seasons. Pittsburgh is sneaky good, I have them (ranked at nine in the AFC).”
Cowherd has the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs ranked No. 1 in the AFC, followed by the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Steelers, and Miami Dolphins. Cowherd loves his top-5, but he thinks it’s really close after that in the AFC.
“Can Odell Beckham stay healthy? Can Aaron Rodgers stay happy? Can Sean Payton and Russell Wilson work? Does Kenny Pickett grow? Does Tua (Tagovailoa) stay on the field? Cowherd pondered. “I love my top-5. I’ll say it again, the most underrated team in the league (is) maybe Jacksonville. In that division, they can easily beat Houston, Tennessee and Colts twice (and) go 6-0 in the division.”
Cowherd thinks the Bengals are without a doubt the best team in the AFC North, but he’s intrigued by the Ravens due to their additions at wide receiver.
“They’re now as fast as anybody in the division, and Lamar (Jackson) is happy,” Cowherd said. “(Jackson) wins 75 percent of his games and they really bolstered their wide receiving core, which was their weakness. I think a happy Lamar can vie for the division.”
In regards to the Cleveland Browns, Cowherd is pretty pessimistic.
“I don’t buy it. I’m a seller on it,” Cowherd said of the Browns’ 9.5 win total projection. “Didn’t like their draft. I don’t buy it.”
Cowherd also isn’t high on the New England Patriots, who have their lowest win total projection in 22 years at 7.5.
“They are the slowest offense in the conference, and they drafted kickers and guards,” Cowherd quipped.
Overall, the AFC is absolutely loaded at the quarterback position. Cowherd thinks his top-eight teams have the best quarterbacks in the conference. It will be interesting to see if Pickett can take a substantial leap in Year 2 and get the Steelers back in the playoffs, and maybe even win a postseason game, something that the Steelers have not done since the 2016 season.