You never want to overreact to a tiny sample size of one or two weeks, but if certain trends continue, we could be headed toward the AFC’s first championship game in 15 years in which Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Ben Roethlisberger are not playing.
Here’s how dominant those three QBs have been over the last 15 years in the AFC:
2003-2004: Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning
2004-2005: Tom Brady vs Ben Roethlisberger
2005-2006: Ben Roethlisberger vs Jake Plummer
2006-2007: Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady
2007-2008: Tom Brady vs Philip Rivers
2008-2009: Ben Reothlisberger vs Joe Flacco
2009-2010: Peyton Manning vs Mark Sanchez
2010-2011: Ben Roethlisberger vs Mark Sanchez
2011-2012: Tom Brady vs Joe Flacco
2012-2013: Joe Flacco vs Tom Brady
2013-2014: Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady
2014-2015: Tom Brady vs Andrew Luck
2015-2016: Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady
2016-2017: Tom Brady vs Ben Roethlisberger
2017-2018: Tom Brady vs Blake Bortles
But two weeks into the 2018 season, and the Steelers are 0-1-1, are saddled with internal problems, and suddenly the AFC North looks like it could be competitive because the Browns are no longer a joke.
Peyton Manning is enjoying retirement.
And Tom Brady and the Patriots are off to another ho-hum start, but this time it feels different, like maybe they’re closer to 11 wins than 13. And that’s because the AFC is off to a surprisingly hot start.
The Jaguars don’t appear to be going anywhere. Pat Mahomes is headed to the Hall of Fame, obviously, and the Chiefs are off to another hot start under Andy Reid. Andrew Luck is back. The Bengals are 2-0. So are the Dolphins. The AFC appeared to be a three-team race before the season … but here we are, late in September, and it appears the conference may be deeper than previously thought.