The AFC's Lack Of Parity Leads To Predictable Outcomes

The AFC's Lack Of Parity Leads To Predictable Outcomes

It does not seem like it will change much.
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The two conferences in the NFL are separate entities, literally and figuratively speaking. The NFC and AFC seem to be yin and yang for every football season in recent memory. On one hand, the NFC is competitive, unpredictable and overflowing with talent. In stark contrast, the AFC is largely homogeneous from year to year, featuring the same teams at the forefront seemingly every time.

This has slightly changed with the recent emergence of teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans along with the regression of presumed contenders such as the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans, but the AFC has largely remained unchanged throughout the past few years. One can never predict the future, but certain teams in the AFC need to hit hard on their picks in the 2018 NFL Draft this month if they wish to remain competitive with the frontrunners of the conference.

Throughout the past 15 years, the AFC has largely been dominated by the New England Patriots. Ever since head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady burst onto the scene in 2001, a multitude of teams in the rest of the conference have been written off as subordinates to the might of the tour de force known as New England. This is most exemplified by the state of their division rivals in the AFC East. Brady and company have given the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets countless fits since their first Super Bowl win in 2002.

Another consistently prominent team in the AFC is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have largely dominated the AFC North for years and have clinched playoff berths on a consistent basis. They are spearheaded by longtime star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger along with otherworldly talent in running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. This team may be notorious for playing down to the level of their competition and they have consistently suffered defeats to New England for the past few years, but they are perennial Super Bowl contenders nearly every season.

It is true that some AFC teams have beefed up their rosters in free agency and are looking to stock up in this year’s draft. The Kansas City Chiefs have been a noteworthy squad for the past few seasons and are only looking to become stronger. They made a bold move signing wide receiver Sammy Watkins to provide a more powerful spark to their already dynamic offense. The aforementioned Tennessee Titans signed former New England stalwarts Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis to keep up with their division rivals, the Baltimore Ravens have bolstered their wide receiving corps with additions like Michael Crabtree and John Brown, and the Buffalo Bills have a hefty amount of cap space and draft picks with which to add offensive and defensive weaponry.

Perhaps the AFC team most poised to have a successful season in 2018 is the Houston Texans, whose quarterback Deshaun Watson dazzled all with his veteran-like play in his rookie season last year. Houston also possesses a strong defense when healthy, featuring solid and experienced players in J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus among others. If this team and its key players stay healthy, they are a surefire Super Bowl contender for 2018.

Like the NFC, nothing is set in stone. However, the AFC looks to maintain its lack of parity and it is difficult to believe that the current juggernauts at the top will regress and make way for those trailing them.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay.com

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25 Baseball Puns Every Fan Should Know

You're sure to be a big hit with these in your glove.
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You’re sure to have a ball with these puns! They will leave you in stitches!

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. I’m an umpire. Now give me your number so I can make the call!

3. Why did the police officer go to the baseball game?... Someone stole second base!

4. Why was Cinderella so bad at baseball?... She had a pumpkin for a coach!

5. Ok, strike that.

6. Cinderella was so bad… she was eventually kicked off the baseball team for running away from the ball.

7. Which animal is best at baseball?... The bat!

8. The reason baseball games are at night is because bats sleep during the day!

9. Keep calm… I’m an outfielder. I’ll catch you!

10. Which baseball player holds water?... The pitcher!

11. I think I glove you!

12. What did the baseball glove say to the ball?... “Catch ya later!”

13. If you sing while playing baseball you may not get a good pitch.

14. Why don’t baseball players join unions?... Because they don’t like to be called out on strikes!

15. Never hit the ump… The Umpire Strikes Back.

16. Are you in the on deck circle? Because you’re up next (to date me)!

17. Why is it always so windy at Candlestick Park?... Because of all the Giant Fans!

18. Your pitch must have hit me because I’m feeling a little faint!

19. I hope you’re a good catcher because I’m starting to fall for you.

20. Did you hear the joke about the pop fly?... Forget it. It’s way over your head.

21. Baseball players who get three strikes. They deserve a shout “out”!

22. I’m falling in glove with you!

23. What’s the difference between a rain barrel and a bad fielder?... One catches drops and the other drops catches.

24. Are you in the outfield? Because you’re an angel!

25. I like baseball so much more than football. It’s just a batter game!

Well, there you have ‘em baseball fans… With these puns in your glove, you’re sure to be a big hit! Maybe you’ll score a home run!

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.

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On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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