Most Important Storylines Heading Into the 2021 NFL Season: AFC

What are the biggest storylines for each team heading into the start of the 2021 NFL season? The 33rd Team staff got together and came up with two key issues to look at for all 32 teams. Nobody can predict what will happen as the season unfolds, but here’s what you should be looking at. First off, the AFC: 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens:

  1. With the injury to RB J.K. Dobbins, what will Baltimore do to address depth at the position? What is the impact of losing Dobbins on the Ravens offense?
  2. Can Lamar Jackson take the next step in his development with the addition of new playmakers at the WR position?

Cleveland Browns:

  1. What to expect from WR Odell Beckham Jr. coming off a torn left ACL.
  2. Dealing with injuries. The Browns have a few key pieces of the defense that have missed time over the last few seasons (Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, to name a few). Will the Browns defensive core remain intact through the 2021 season?

Cincinnati Bengals:

  1. What to expect for QB Joe Burrow coming off a torn left ACL/MCL.
  2. Are Ja’Marr Chase’s preseason struggles a cause for concern?

Pittsburgh Steelers:

  1. Will Ben Roethlisberger’s arm hold up throughout the duration of the 2021 NFL season?
  2. Will the rebuilt offensive line allow Najee Harris to have a successful rookie season?

AFC East

Buffalo Bills:

  1. Will the Bills focus more on their running game this season?
  2. What can QB Josh Allen do for an encore after an MVP-caliber season in 2020?

Miami Dolphins:

  1. Will the Dolphins trade for Deshaun Watson?
  2. Is Tua Tagovailoa the Dolphins’ franchise QB?

New England Patriots:

  1. QB of the future is QB of the now: With Cam Newton out of the picture, what can we expect from rookie QB Mac Jones?
  2. The availability of Stephon Gilmore to start the season.

New York Jets:

  1. Is Zach Wilson the franchise QB for the Jets?
  2. Robert Saleh, growing pains associated with being a first-year NFL coach.

AFC West

Denver Broncos:

  1. Will Teddy Bridgewater be the season-long starter in Denver at QB?
  2. How will the rebuilt secondary look?

Kansas City Chiefs:

  1. Will the Chiefs repeat as AFC champs for the third year in a row?
  2. How will the five new starting offensive linemen gel and protect Patrick Mahomes?

Las Vegas Raiders:

  1. Who steps up on offense outside of Darren Waller?
  2. How big of an impact will Yannick Ngakoue have for the Raiders’ defense?

Los Angeles Chargers:

  1. Will Justin Herbert be able to build upon the success of his rookie season? Or will the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year get a case of the sophomore slump?
  2. Will new head coach Brandon Staley be able to improve their game management in close games?

AFC South

Houston Texans:

  1. Deshaun Watson: If/when a trade occurs; what is the current asking price?
  2. Are the Texans the favorites to land the top overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft?

Indianapolis Colts:

  1. Are the Colts this year’s 49ers, in terms of injuries?
  2. How will the offensive line hold up with a third-string left tackle in the lineup

Jacksonville Jaguars:

  1. Urban Meyer: growing pains associated with being a first-year NFL coach.
  2. Can the offensive line protect rookie QB Trevor Lawrence?

Tennessee Titans:

  1. Will Julio Jones be the piece that the Titans need to put them over the top?
  2. How will the offense adapt after the loss of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith?


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