BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots have their issues. Several key players will begin training camp on the PUP list, the offensive line is still a big question mark, and there’s that whole thing about having Jimmy Garoppolo start the first four games of the season.
But the Patriots are not the only team with problems as the 2016 season begins, and looking at the rest of the AFC, they’re in pretty good shape. Adam Jones and Rich Keefe took a look around the conference on Tuesday night to try and figure out who would be a threat to the Patriots in the 2016 season.
They’re still looking.
The Texans’ J.J. Watt could miss the first month of the year (Houston will visit the Patriots for a Thursday Night tilt in Week 3) after undergoing back surgery. A pair of key Steelers have been suspended, with Le’Veon Bell banned for the first month after missing a drug test while receiver Martavis Bryant has been booted for the full season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
In the AFC East, Ryan Fitzpatrick remains unsigned. That means the Jets will go with Geno Smith, Bryce Petty or rookie Christian Hackenberg at quarterback. (Update: Fitzpatrick signed a one-year deal with the Jets on Wednesday night)
And if you think that QB situation is bad, the defending champion Broncos have Mark Sanchez under center.
“I’m not saying they have a cake walk, but I don’t think I can come up with [a team better than the Patriots],” said Jones. “I don’t see a big threat in the AFC.”
Keefe sees the Steelers or Ravens as a potential threat, though he isn’t sure which one will emerge.
“One of those teams, ever year, kind of figures it out. It might be kind of ugly during the [regular] season, but you know they’re a team that is never intimidated and they find a way,” said Keefe. “It seems like one of them will have a bad year and the other will be there in the end. I don’t know which one it will be, but one of those teams will be their stiffest competition.”
Listen to the full discussion below: