With the Patriots taking care of business in Week 1 and the Raiders on their way to a dominant victory over the Bengals, the next five weeks in NFL history will be dominated by the top three teams in the AFC West, according to Football Outsiders’ Football Power Index.
Here are the teams that are expected to dominate the division and take a big step toward making the playoffs.1.
Arizona CardinalsThe Cardinals are going to dominate Week 2 and they’ll do it without any major injuries, but Arizona’s defense is going to need to be better in Week 3 if it wants to keep up with the Patriots.
That’s a tough task without star linebacker Dwight Freeney, who missed the team’s win over the Patriots with a hip injury.2.
Oakland RaidersThe Raiders have been the best defensive team in football for most of the season, but a loss to the Patriots would put an end to that dominance.
With the Raiders set to take on the Patriots in New England, the Raiders are going through some turnover.
If the Raiders’ defense is still dominant, they should be a lock for the No. 2 seed.3.
Houston TexansThe Texans are going into Week 3 as the clear favorite in the division.
They’ve won three straight games, and quarterback Deshaun Watson is leading the team to another big victory.
However, Houston will need to win at least three of its next four to be a realistic No. 3 seed.4.
San Diego ChargersThe Chargers will need all the help they can get to secure the No, 2 seed in the NFC West.
If they don’t get back to .500 after a Week 1 bye, they could be in trouble for a third straight year.5.
Pittsburgh SteelersThe Steelers are one of the NFL’s most explosive teams, but they could struggle against a Patriots team that has lost two of its past three games.
They also could struggle with a Raiders team that’s coming off a win over New England.6.
Tennessee TitansThe Titans won’t win the division, but the offense is starting to pick up steam.
They are the only team that hasn’t lost at least four games since Week 1.7.
Chicago BearsThe Bears have won three in a row and are expected in the mix for a top seed in Week 2.
The defense has been great since the bye, so the offense has a chance to take the NFC North.8.
New York JetsThe Jets are coming off back-to-back wins over the Steelers and Raiders, and the team could have the most explosive offense of the division if quarterback Josh McCown continues to play at an elite level.9.
Philadelphia EaglesThe Eagles will need their offense to continue to thrive after a rough start to the season.
They will have to avoid a third consecutive loss in New York if they want to stay in the playoff race.10.
San Francisco 49ersThe Niners are going back-and-forth with the Titans and Raiders in the conference standings, but this is going be an intriguing game in Week 4.
The Niners will need the defense to be able to stop the Raiders and keep the offense fresh, but it will be interesting to see how the defense performs in Philadelphia.11.
Washington RedskinsThe Redskins need to stay healthy, but that won’t be an issue if they can win at home against the Steelers in Week 5.12.
Tennessee VolunteersThe Vols will have the best defense in the SEC after a win in the Raiders game.
They’ll also need to beat the Titans to remain in the race.13.
Indianapolis ColtsThe Colts will need a win to stay competitive in the East, but if they win against the Bengals in Week 6, they have a chance for a first-round bye.14.
Oakland 49ersAfter a rough Week 1, the Niners defense is starting a nice trend and should continue to dominate opponents with a new-look offensive line.15.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersThe Buccaneers will need more of a run game to be successful in Week 9 against the Patriots, but their defense is finally starting to show signs of life.16.
Cincinnati BengalsThe Bengals are coming into the season without star quarterback Andy Dalton, but Dalton has been very productive.
The Bengals need a big performance from their defense if they hope to keep winning games at home.17.
Dallas CowboysThe Cowboys will need another win to maintain their playoff hopes.
They have lost three straight and are likely to be out of the playoffs after a loss in Indianapolis.18.
New Orleans SaintsThe Saints have won four in a Row and will have a big week with a win against Seattle in Week 8.19.
Green Bay PackersThe Packers will need an offensive surge to beat Seattle, but Green Bay is in good shape with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.20.
Philadelphia SteelersThe Eagles have lost six in arow and will need some help from their offensive line in Week 10 against the Falcons.21.
Indianapolis BroncosThe Broncos will need Denver to keep pace with them in the standings, and they will have an easier