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This offseason has played a huge impact on many AFC teams’ rosters. Star players have found their new homes and are ready to make an immediate impact this season. Here is a breakdown of some of the hidden underdogs of such a loaded conference:


Indianapolis Colts: While the Titans are clear favorites to win the AFC South, the Colts are definite underdogs coming into this upcoming season. After being traded from the Eagles, Carson Wentz will have a chip on his shoulder playing for his new team. He’ll be assisted on offense throwing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines and solid WR and RB groups. The team was able to retain RB Marlon Mack to assist second-year RB Jonathan Taylor, who is primed for a breakout season. On the defensive side of the football, Darius Leonard ranks as one of the best inside linebackers in the league, and veteran CB Xavier Rhodes will help maintain their strong secondary.


Los Angeles Chargers: After QB Justin Herbert’s performance last season, the Chargers appear to have a very promising future. They locked up free agent C Corey Linsley who will act as the centerpiece to an O-line that struggled last season protecting their rookie QB. They also added OT Rashawn Slater in the first round and signed OG Matt Feiler to further improve Herbert’s protection. Retaining all-pro S Derwin James and drafting CB Asante Samuel Jr., will help maintain the secondary while Joey Bosa highlights the D-line. If this young team can avoid injuries, they definitely have a chance at competing with Kansas City for the division.


Miami Dolphins: Many fans are hyping up this Miami team, but they are actually one of the biggest make-or-break teams in the league. Their success will depend on the development of second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa. Last season was up and down for him as he competed as a rookie with veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. This season the job appears to be Tua’s to lose. Fortunately for him, the team drafted first-round WR Jaylen Waddle and signed WR Will Fuller to add strength to the receiving core. On defense, the Dolphins added veteran CBs Justin Coleman and Jason McCourty, as well as S Jevon Holland via the draft to reload an already stacked secondary. This team has the potential to make a run at the AFC East title, but their success will strongly depend on their young players’ development.


New England Patriots: If this were five years ago, listing the Patriots in the underdog category would be laughable. However, with the rising Buffalo Bills in the division, along with a young talented Miami Dolphins team, the Pats are underdogs at best. By adding so much talent over the offseason through free agency and the draft, this team is definitely in the mix to contest for the AFC East title. TEs Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith should add much-needed receiving talent and help to a team that was near the bottom of the league last season. The end-of-season success this year will depend on how quickly rookie QB Mac Jones develops, and how well the reloaded defense performs against opposing offenses.



Photo: Jasen Vinlove/USA Today