Colt: Hey, what is up, Bills Mafia? Welcome into another episode of the Buffalo Nerd. This is your home for Buffalo Bills football coverage with a charity on top. We do it a little bit different here, but If it’s your first time listening, thanks for being here. You’re absolutely appreciated. If you’ve been following the journey the whole time, I love you, too. Thanks for being here as well.

You guys are going to really enjoy the show, today. I’ve got a really fun guest. We’re going to talk about two powerhouses in the AFC right now. The Baltimore Ravens and our Buffalo Bills. I’ve got Kevin Oestreicher on. He’s actually the Locked On Ravens Podcast. He does a daily podcast covering the Ravens. So, I’m going to guess he’s got a little bit of knowledge on what we might need to hear. He’s also a writer at Ravens Wire, and he does a lot of their stuff over there too. Kevin, before we get too deep into this, and I tell everything about you, why don’t you go ahead and just introduce yourself a little bit?

Kevin: Yeah, I am Kevin Oestreicher. I host and produce Locked On Ravens. Ravens content five days a week. It’s a lot of Ravens talk. I pretty much dream about the Ravens, now. It’s constantly there in my mind. But this is a good football team. So, I enjoy definitely and also, yeah, I run Ravens Wire. I’m the managing editor over there. I do their work anywhere from three to four articles a day. Obviously, as the season picks up, the content starts picking up as well. I do this stuff over there. It’s been such a fun ride covering this team. I know for you, Buffalo was starting to get there as well. I know that these two quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, we’re going to talk about of them a lot here on the show. But yeah, I’m excited to talk some football with you here today.

Colt: Yeah, man. I’m absolutely stoked to have you because like you mentioned, I think we both feel we have good football teams. I have respect for your team. I think we’re starting to get more respect on our side for being there for consecutive years, because you guys have been there for multiple years now. This isn’t just since Lamar has been there. You guys were there prior to this where you’re always in the playoffs. So, it is new for us.

But before we get into all that, we always like to do it every week as we do highlight it a charity or an organization that’s doing something cool, and like every week, the guest gets to choose that. So, this week, we took it to the Ravens house, and when Kevin told me about this charity, I went and checked it out and it is awesome. Kevin, before I talk too much about it or say what I learned about it, why don’t you go ahead and tell the folks what charity you chose and why you chose them?

Kevin: Yeah, I ended up choosing the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation. Bradley Bozeman, now the Raven center, and his wife, Nikki both run this foundation. They do amazing stuff in the community. It actually started up at the University of Alabama where both attended, and they really focused on anti-bullying and getting the message out there, trying to do different social causes surrounding bullying, and just how it’s wrong, going to different schools, doing different seminars there, and just strengthening communities in general. But they took on a different side of things when the pandemic hit. They started to getting food out there to people and some food shortages that started to happen during the pandemic, and stuff that happens outside of pandemics as well, but providing meals for families, for children, for seniors, and they’ve done a great job at not only the stuff they did at Alabama, but also embracing the Baltimore community, and going out and doing stuff for a community that is– Certain areas are definitely in need here in Baltimore.

I am in such awe of what they’re doing, I’m in such admiration of what they’re doing as well, and just when you said to pick a charity, I wanted to keep it Ravens related. Luckily, there are so many Ravens players who do so much in the Baltimore community and have embraced the community as their own, and Bradley and Nikki Bozeman, I think, both have done that tremendously. They’ve done so many good things already. I don’t anticipate that to stop. People who are facing challenges right now living in Baltimore City and other areas throughout the city as well, they’ve put together some great initiatives, some great programs and events, and I’m excited to see what they do. But I definitely wanted to put a spotlight on them, because they’ve been doing a lot of really nice and a lot of hard work as well, and I am proud of what they’ve been doing in this community.

Colt: Yeah, when I read this story, like you mentioned, it started at Alabama. these were a couple of college kids that decided to start doing this, and now, they’ve moved to their new home, and they’re just continuing, which is incredibly awesome. It’s the coolest thing possible to have two folks that were athletes at a very high level. They both played at Alabama, where she played basketball, he obviously played football. But I think most people see that as a very good school. So, it’s cool have folks like that, that are going out there in the community and letting people know that there’s things that– they were bullied. They say it in their story, that they in fact were bullied, and that’s why they do this stuff. It’s very awesome.

The more I read it, I was like, “This is very cool.” The coolest part of it is really that they just carried it on. these were young kids that were just like, “You know what? we need to do this.” I think that’s what we tend to not have enough of in our communities and stuff like that. So, it’s very cool to see people going from wherever they came from to Alabama. Now, they’re in Baltimore, and they’re just loving that community. We know Lamar’s got his foundation as well. Obviously, Bill’s Mafia’s helped out in that atmosphere already. So, very cool. We always do, we’ll have the links and everything for you guys to shoot right over to their organization and check them out. It’s cool stuff, easy to donate, too, very awesome program. Absolutely, love it. So, thanks for bringing it up, man.

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. I know that this is a cause that’s very close to their hearts as well. You mentioned it in their story. So, it’s a good thing to see them actually going out there in the community, not only Alabama but also in Baltimore. So, I’m glad I was able to put some spotlight on it.

Colt: Yeah, man. Awesome. Let’s get the fun going now, because we’re going to only chat for a little bit of time here. We could probably spend days talking about how these two teams are probably going to be competing for at least the next five to seven years in my eyes. As long as Lamar and Josh are healthy, I think that’s going to be a duo we’re going to see for a while. That’s where I wanted to start.

The Ravens offense, it tends to get hit hard with Lamar can’t throw the football, he can’t do these things, that kind of stuff. If you look at the wide receiver room, it hasn’t been great. How do you feel they did this offseason as far as– Do you think the team got maybe better offensively? Are they the same? Is it really Lamar? I feel it’s the wide receiver room a little bit as well, but where do you stand on that?

Kevin: Yeah, I definitely think they got better. I think obviously, the wide receivers are the main thing that people look at. I think it honestly started with them not being able to bring in, for example, T. Y. Hilton, or JuJu Smith-Schuster, and the stories came out about, “Oh, Baltimore offered this deal, but they ended up going back to their home team,” and that got them a lot of negative press in terms of, “Oh, no one wants to come to Baltimore. No one wants to play with Lamar Jackson.” But at the end of the day, the Ravens, what their approach seems to be is they want to draft that true number one receiver. Marquise Brown, I think, is a phenomenal football player, but I think he is a high-end wide receiver too. That’s not a slight to him whatsoever but in his role, he is a very good football player.

For example, they draft Rashod Bateman with 27th overall pick, a player who honestly– everything considered because I don’t think they were ever going to trade up for Ja Marr Chase, or DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle. Bateman for me was the best value on the board with his skill set. This was the guy I wanted for them. They end up getting him at 27 which most people, maybe, they thought it was Tennessee, or Cleveland, or Indianapolis was going to snag them in the early 20s. That was a great move. They bring in Sammy Watkins who, sure is no T. Y. Hilton, no JuJu Smith-Schuster, but can play a role for them in that veteran role. Also, he can be referred to as weak one Sammy Watkins, because he just goes off during the first game.

The Ravens as a team, I think– I can’t remember the exact number right now, but it’s something like 149 to 19 or some ridiculous crazy number like that. They have outscored their opponents in their last four preseason games or in their last four regular season week one openers. That’s on your Mets in the pre-season, they’ve a 17-year winning streak in the pre-season, but the wide receiver room in general, they have no Deshorn Brown as I mentioned. They also have Miles Boykin, new they draft in the third round of that draft. He has not panned out as people have hoped. Devin Duvernay was taken in the third round of 2020, James Proche, the sixth round of 2020, and then two more, Bateman and Tylan Wallace who was taken in the in the fourth round I believe, or it might have been the fifth, one of the two.

But they have a lot of young receivers, and then, it’s Sammy Watkins. They potentially could have gotten Julio Jones, but it seems like they want to trust their young guys. I think they should, because I think the duo of Bateman and Brown could be the one-two for years to come. But I also think it goes beyond the wide receivers, and it’s the offensive line as well. Because that offensive line in the Buffalo game was not great. Lamar Jackson was running for his life, and he ended up sustaining a concussion because the center couldn’t snap the football properly, and he has to run and chase the football, and he ends up getting tackled, and hits his head pretty hard, and gets out of the game that way. So, what do they do? They have to trade away Orlando Brown, Jr. because of this whole situation. But they’re getting Ronnie Stanley back, and they brought in Kevin Zeitler, who I think is a very solid, veteran guard. That’s a three-year deal. They brought him in for Ben Cleveland, who was a really big guy coming out of Georgia. He’s coming in there probably to be the starting left guard. They’re moving Bradley Bozeman, we just talked about the center, which he played in Alabama.

Now, they have all the pieces, not to mention, Alejandro Villanueva as the former Steeler tackle. So, that group is a lot more veteran now, a lot more experienced, along with some guys who are a bit young like Cleveland and Bozeman himself.

But at the end of the day, if Lamar Jackson doesn’t have the time to throw the football, he’s probably not making accurate passes. So, you have to protect your quarterback first and then worry about the weapons second, in my opinion. I think they did both this offseason. They brought in the protection, they brought in the weapons, and everything combined, I think this offense will be a lot better throwing the football– We know what they can do running. They’re going to be a great running team, and they shouldn’t go away from that. Just because Lamar Jackson should throw the football more does not mean they’re going to move away from their identity. They will throw the football more at least I think they will in 2021.

But again, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to all of a sudden become this air raid offense or anything. You play to the strengths of your star players, and that includes Lamar Jackson’s strength as a passer, which I think a lot of people do underrate and throw under the rug to please their own narratives, which is unfortunate because what you have is a good player who doesn’t need to improve in some areas of his passing game, but can be a deadly passer when he has the time and the weapons.

Colt: Yeah, and I think that’s how it is for any NFL quarterback. Realistically, if your offensive line is no good at giving you even the three seconds that you might need to make a good throw, you’re in a bad spot to start.

Kevin: Yeah.

Colt: I agree with a lot of that stuff. I like Bateman a lot. I agree with that a ton. I think he’s a nice piece of the puzzle. I was looking at that earlier before we came on that Sammy is the elder statesman in the wide receiver room by a few years. He’s three years older than most of the other guys in that room. I’ve heard very good things about the Wallace kid actually that he’s got a lot of potential to be a really good football player. So, to me, the offense is not really the side of the ball that I think this offseason had any issues. Defensively, I feel there were some big pieces that went away that maybe is Baltimore’s defense going to potentially be as good as it is because I do believe that the offense will– it shouldn’t change. I agree with that 100%. Even more teams start to stop it, still that’s the best you can do and keep doing it until you can do something different, or keep wrinkling out of it, or try different things. But I agree 100%. Don’t try to change that up. I don’t think Greg Roman is going to do that either. That’s just not his style. He doesn’t air the ball out. That’s never going to be his thing.

But defensively, I felt like this offseason, and that’s why we touched on this a little before we got into it, we’ll get into what the divisions going to look like. I threw some fire on this thing before we even got started by telling you, I wasn’t going to select your team, but part of it is because I think the defense took a little bit of a hit. Am I wrong? I love the cornerbacks, I love what’s going on there, but your defensive ends, I feel like you lost two of the best in football potentially. Where do you see it?

Kevin: Yeah. The defense is going to be a balance. In terms of the actual question of, will this defense be better in 2021, it’s going to depend because you mentioned it, the Ravens lost in pieces, especially, at the edge position Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Jihad Ward. Now, in terms of total sack production, you look at the 3 combined, it’s 12 total sacks throughout their time last year in Baltimore. But they only had 39 as a team, so you’re looking at just under a third of the production from your sack guys, and Judon [unintelligible 00:13:19] the team was six. So, you’re losing your sack leader in Ngakoue, it felt like was just a hair away from eight sacks on the year but the quarterback gets the ball out quickly or he misses. And then, Ward was a nice rotational piece.

They don’t really do a lot to address it outside of the draft though. They re-signed Tyus Bowser, great move. I think he’s a great piece for them. Pernell McPhee, same thing, they re-signed him as well. But for me, the draft was the big part for them, and they addressed it there. They got Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes. Odafe Oweh was a first-round pick, Daelin, he was a fifth-round selection. Now, these guys have the potential to be really good in the future and not saying they can’t contribute now, but they are more project players. Odafe Oweh hasn’t played football for that long. I believe he’s only been playing for five or so years. So, he’s still learning the game right now, and that’s fine. It was rumored, speaking of Buffalo, that the Ravens were looking at either Oweh or Russo and hoping that either one, Odafe Oweh or Greg Russo, fell to them at 31. Now, Buffalo takes Greg Russo, and so that leaves the Ravens with Oweh.

In both players, super high ceilings. Really, really high ceilings, but they are a bit raw at the moment. What does that leave you with? You have to have players in front of those guys who we know if they have to learn a little bit more in their first year and their second year. They can pick up the slack while a guy like Oweh or Russo learns. For the Ravens, is that going to be Tyus Bowser who is now their number one edge rusher? Is it going to be Jaylon Ferguson, who has struggled ever– He broke Terrell Suggs’ sack record at the FBS level, and he hasn’t really panned out four and a half sacks in two years so far. So, there’s been a lot of clamoring for Justin Houston in Baltimore. The recent Chandler Jones rumor has spread to Baltimore and a lot of people are saying, “Hey, let’s go, get Chandler Jones.” How much of a pipe dream that is at this point, who knows?

But a lot of people are feeling a little bit wary of what the pass rush situation looks like right now because Tyus Bowser, great in coverage. Odafe Oweh, great disrupter, can set the edge and is just an overall– he wreaks havoc. But where does the pass rush production come from especially, when considering that Oweh did not have a sack in 2020? Now, he did a lot more than that. Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into being an edge rusher. But if you look at what they have as edge setters and dropping back into covers the position, it seems like the missing piece for them is that pure pass rusher guy. Houston could be that for them. Olivier Vernon is still on the market if they want to go that route, or maybe it’s just a trade midseason. But for right now, the defense is going to rely on some guys taking big leaps including Bowser and Ferguson. Also, Patrick Queen who had an up and down year of inside linebacker, lead the team in tackles, got over 100 of them. But still, the COVID offseason definitely didn’t help some of these rookies. And for Queen, he has said that it took him about five weeks to get in the game shape.

For example, Shawn Elliott, the Ravens cut Earl Thomas with two weeks ago before the season starts last year, and they’re deciding to bring a strong safety, a young strong safety and put them in a starting job for a full 16 games. So, can those guys take a leap? Not that they’re not going to contribute to edge position, but if they contribute in their own positions, it will soften the load of the guys like Bowser and Ferguson, and in turn, I think that will help the pass rush and help those younger guys to fill up a lot quicker.

So, to answer your question, I think the Ravens defense does have the potential to be better, but it does really depend on the pass rush, because if you can’t get to the quarterback, and you give the quarterback three, four, five seconds to throw, it doesn’t matter how good your secondary is, someone’s going to get open somehow or the pocket’s going to collapse, and a quarterback will take off. There’s a lot of moving pieces right now, but I am confident they can be better with the right pieces stepping up to the pass rush position.

Colt: Yeah, for me, the best part of the defense is the back end anyway, which allows for your front to figure it out. Because these guys can cover longer than a lot of these other guys can in the league. They can hold the ground for three, four seconds to give guys those extra few seconds to try to get there, which is huge. It’s interesting here, it’s good to hear somebody that really follows it and where they plug and play, because it’s not necessarily always about this year. Yes, you want pieces to work this year, and it’d be great if they just came in and did awesome, but this is a long-term sport. They’re not just building redrafts. We’re building dynasties here. So, very cool. Real quick, with everything you’ve said, who wins the division for you guys right now?

Kevin: Oh, man. See, this is so close. I know your answer, but for me, my prediction is it’s going to be Baltimore by some crazy tiebreaker. I think both Baltimore and Cleveland finish at 13 and 4, like it’s literally neck and neck. I don’t see a situation– Maybe, it’s crazy, injuries happen. I think Baltimore and Cleveland will split with each other. I just think they’re too talented not too. The week 14 last year that the Lamar Jackson cramp game was one of the best games of the season, and you have Baltimore traveling again to Cleveland to play them in week 14 once again. So, two teams, Cleveland did a great job. I said before the 2020 year, watch out for Cleveland. They have the guy in Berry now, they built a good roster. People wrote them off because, same old Browns. That’s been the thing. Yeah, you’ve got to prove it. I remember all the hype a couple years ago after the Browns got rid of Beckham, and then they just can’t put it together.

What you have now are two talented teams. I think Cincinnati is a couple years away at this point. So, it’s going to be Baltimore, it’s going to be Cleveland. I think Baltimore wins that division by literally conference tiebreaker. It’ll probably be the same division head-to-head. Maybe, the Ravens will have a game up there. But right now, for me, I think it’s Baltimore by just a hair.

Colt: No, and I like that, too, because it for me, it is a tossup the way that I’m choosing it to. I do think Cleveland will take it this year, and it’s mostly because I do believe they finally have got their defense right or they’ve gotten the back end of their defense in much better shape than it’s ever been in. So, they can just continue to do what they’re doing and hopefully shore that up a little bit. I also like the idea of eventually the possibility of having a battle for Lake Erie between Cleveland and Buffalo for the AFC Championship or something, because nobody in their right mind would have thought that was even a possibility even three years ago. But I do agree. You guys are going to good football team, you’re going to be right there in the mix of the AFC again. I think we talked about that offline a little bit. You’ve got a big four. Your big four basically matched up with my big four in Kansas City, Buffalo, Baltimore, Cleveland. Outside looking in right there, it’s Tennessee, Indianapolis. I think the AFC is stacked. This division is considerably better than the NFC in my eyes right now by a landslide/

I want to get your opinion on little bit on the other team that we’re going to talk about, and that’s the Buffalo Bills, because you’ve got to say nice things about your team. Now, I want to see if you want to say nice things about my team or if you have some negative things to say, which are perfectly fine either way. But where do you think the Bills’ offense is this offseason, because we didn’t really do much. We lost John Brown, you bring in Emmanuel Sanders. Personally for me, that was a little bit of an upgrade, just in some different aspects, speed and those types of things, but I do believe he’s a better route runner. But what do you think of the Bills offenses? Just as good as last year? Do you think it’s going to be as competitive as it was? A dip? What do you need to see?

Kevin: Yeah, I think overall, the offense will probably stay at the high level than it was at last year. I think that’s a good thing. If you’re a Buffalo fan or if you’re the Bills, I know a lot of people, the narrative surrounding Josh Allen was, “Oh, he got Diggs. That’s why he’s good now.” I understand what having a number one wide receiver does for a young quarterback, that should be the case, but Allen made some strides himself. I know I’ve heard the same stuff with Lamar Jackson, and for Allen, he got Diggs. For Murray, he got Hopkins, for example. But now what you have in Buffalo– I do agree. I liked Emmaneul Sanders a lot. I think that was an upgrade. He was a guy who I wanted in Baltimore actually. So, congratulations to Buffalo on that.

But the offense is well balanced. I know obviously, you would like a little bit more out of the run game. I like Devin Singletary a lot. How is he going to perform? Is Zack Moss the guy? I know there have been some mixed reviews there, is he, is he not? But if you can get a little more production out of the run game and whether that does mean bringing the football more or just increased efficiency, I don’t know yet. Obviously, you would like the increased efficiency because you have Allen playing at a very high level and he’s a threat on the ground himself. He’s a dual threat quarterback himself and does a very good job with that.

Look, there’s nothing negative for me to say about the Bills. The game that they played against Baltimore in the playoffs, what they did there, they deserved that win. There wasn’t any weird call or cheat play. That was a fair and square. Hey, Buffalo was the better team, and they didn’t really have to do a ton in the offseason in my opinion. I think they have the pieces there. There are going to be challenges this year, though. I agree. The AFC is stacked. Baltimore went out and they did what they needed to do. In Kansas City, they revamped their offensive line. In Cleveland, you mentioned their secondary. I think those are the top four that we see right now, but the other teams you mentioned were in the hunt almost. So, if Buffalo can just build and continue to improve, that’s what I’ve been preaching with the Ravens is in 2018, they had the wildcard loss to the Chargers. In 2019, they had the divisional round loss to Tennessee, that was disappointing. In 2020, they had the division around loss to Buffalo, but they won a playoff game. Can they now increase upon that and continue to get better, whether it is record wise in the regular season, whether it is efficiency wise, stats wise, or otherwise playoff success wise? So, for Buffalo, is that a Super Bowl? There’s a lot to go into it, but I think Buffalo’s offense stayed the same, but I think that’s not a bad thing.

Colt: Yeah, I agree. This team is the best it’s been in a very long time. It’s been very nice to be able to go into this offseason with no expectations in the draft, because you didn’t necessarily think that anybody was going to be the reason the team would win or lose this year. It’d be nice if there were some good things to come out of it, but I agree with that. This is a team right now that yes, the Super Bowl would be phenomenal. Everybody wants a Super Bowl. Who doesn’t? That’s the goal. Obviously, we all start the season to win a Super Bowl. But for me, I view it as I want to be in the hunt, at least. So, to me, you are building a team that is going to be in the playoffs every year because if you’re not in the playoffs, you don’t get a chance to be the king anyway. You’ve got to get there.

To me, I want wins now, and I want to see great things happen right now, because that’s awesome, but I do agree that this is long term. The Buffalo Bills need to just continually be a 10-win football team at the minimum year in and year out for me to be a happy fan moving forward. Because yes, we’ll get a Super Bowl, I think, at some point in time, and we’ll be hopefully in a bunch of championship games.

But one Achilles heel from last year, you mentioned it was the run a little bit. I think that can be addressed, like you mentioned it. I think it’s actually just a little more efficiency would be the better route. I don’t think we necessarily need to run more. I just think we need to get more when we are running. So, I agree with that.

But the other side of the ball, our defensive line has struggled for a couple of seasons now and we definitely, we’re not 2019 Bills defense compared to what we were last year. It took us a long time to get going last season. We did the same thing with our defensive line this year, was we went young. We said, “Let’s try to find young guys.” But unlike Baltimore, we do have Jerry Hughes. We do have older guys there showing them. Does anything that Buffalo did defensively this offseason, be like, oh, man, we’re going to have even more of a hard time with them? Or, do you just think what they did in the defense is going to be good enough like Baltimore’s just good kind of football teams right now and they have good defenses. Sean McDermott’s a good defensive coach, Harbaugh’s a good defensive coach. Is that how it is? Do you think the Bills can stack up and be another good defense, or do you need to see something this offseason?

Kevin: Yeah, I don’t think I necessarily need to see anything specific this offseason. Honestly, what I look at it is, every team has a weakness or two. For Baltimore, they have theirs. For Buffalo, probably the run game and the defensive line were those weaknesses last season. But you mentioned it a bit earlier, the secondary, you want to have the good back half. Buffalo was one of the best safety [unintelligible 00:25:42] in the league with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, obviously, Tre White. You can’t go wrong with Tre White on the field. You have a bunch of other pieces in there, Levi Wallace. They have a bunch of corners who I think can come in and contribute at a very high level for not just this year, but future years.

You set yourself up well in the secondary, you can go out there and address a weakness over multiple off seasons or multiple seasons. So, you mentioned it like you want to have the production now. You don’t want to have to wait because right now is like the window. It’s when Lamar Jackson is still on his rookie deal, Josh Allen is still on his rookie deal. We’re waiting for those extensions to kick in. What are they going to look like? We don’t know yet. But when that happens, you start as a team at least to have a little bit less flexibility to sign the veterans, positional weaknesses, and you have to go young. It seems like the Bills did do that with Greg Russo. They have guys like Jerry Hughes to coach them up. You mentioned that. But what’s his production going to be this year? How much playing time is he going to get this year? It might not be as much as many would have hoped with a more developed person, but you reap the benefits of those in the future when the timeline is, “All right, now, we’re really in the prime to go win some Super Bowls.”

Because still, these guys are in their fourth year, at least the quarterbacks are, with Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen. Both guys have time to improve. So, if you put a defense around a young quarterback like that who can generate turnovers, they don’t necessarily have to do everything at an elite level. But if you can at least get the ball back for your quarterback who you know, you can go out there and score some points on any given drive. I think that’s all that matters. So, I wasn’t expecting anything huge from Buffalo in the offseason defensively. Especially because they made it so far, you don’t want to just blow that all up after coming so close, and you know you have the formula. It’s just a piece here or a piece there that can really make it work.

I still think that Buffalo can have much improved starts in the year. I know the start was not great last year. So, if they can start a little faster. I think it’ll help them not only just throughout the whole regular season, but it’ll get them to where they need to be faster for the playoffs, which with Buffalo slow start, they had to work their way up there and by the time the playoffs happened and everything went down there, the defense played well in some circumstances but in others they struggled. So, I think Buffalo’s defense has the pieces. What they needed in some areas and there’s still a few holes, but I think overall their defense will be fine, and I think they’ll start off better this year.

Colt: I like it. Those are all good things for us, so way to go. Excellent job. Before we get ready to close out of this thing, did the Buffalo Bills win the AFCs again in your eyes or do you think what Miami is doing down there is turning into enough? Do you think New England bounces back? What do you think?

Kevin: I think this is still Buffalo’s division to lose. Obviously, you can never count out Bill Belichick in that Patriots team. I know you know that more than I do. But they are a team that, I think, their quarterback situation is fine. You have Newton, you have Jones. I just don’t see it out there. Matthew Judon is now there in Buffalo, and they made every addition under the sun. It seemed like they added 30 new players. So, they’ll have to have all those guys gel.

In Miami, it’s all going to depend on Tua, the defense, obviously, the secondary with Xavien Howard. If Xavien Howard stays and Byron Jones, they added Javon Holland in that draft. They’re doing some good things down there. In Miami, I think they will be competitive but it’s like an increased Bengals situation in my opinion, where like they will be there, and they’ll be there sooner than Cincinnati will but I think they might need another year to what is a full-time starter.

You go back to, man, I believe it was Oakland or whoever– It might have been Las Vegas. I can’t remember. I almost called them Oakland. But in that game, Tua got benched and I think it’s Patrick came in and led them to a win. So, it’s moments like those where it’s like Tua isn’t getting the job done against a team like Las Vegas. You have to bring in Fitzpatrick who now is in Washington. So, it’s like the Tua show now. They might need a year to get some stuff situated with him. The Jets, I think, are a team that again can be there, is Wilson the guy? I think they made some solid additions in the offseason, but I don’t think they’re going to be a huge threat this year. So, I think it’s Buffalo’s division to lose them. Unless some crazy thing happens, I think Buffalo will still come out on top in the AFCs.

Colt: Yeah, I mean for me too, he’s the complete question mark for Miami. If he can throw the ball to the outside in the NFL, then it might be okay but right now, he hasn’t shown that to me. I do see they have a very good football team being built down there. Brian Flores, I think, is a great football coach. I do like that. If Howard somehow ends up out of there this season though, that is going to be incredible. What are they thinking? I hope it happens just because.

And I agree, the Jets, I said all before the draft. They should have traded the pick. They needed more than a quarterback. But that’s all right. We’ll see. I’m okay with two wins every year as long as they want to keep doing that stuff. So, I’m cool with that. But I agree, I think Buffalo does have– its unless something tragic happens, I think we got the best roster right now in the division, and I do think New England will push, but I think it is still going to be our division. So, who is your AFC champion, then?

Kevin: Oh, that’s so tough. I’ve always been of the mindset– I was so, so convinced over the last couple of years that Baltimore finally had what it took to get over the hump against Kansas City, and they haven’t proven that to me yet. I think this is the year. I’m predicting them to win it this year. But in the playoffs, getting to that AFC Championship game, again kind of like what you talked about. Everybody wants the Super Bowl. That’s what everybody wants right now and so many people are on that Super Bowl [unintelligible 00:31:29] to me. That’s not it for Baltimore, and I don’t even think it’s for Buffalo.

But regardless, I think this is a year where the Ravens make the AFC Championship. I think they again improve, but I still have to give it to Kansas City. They’ve proven their dominance. They went out there and they addressed their offensive line with literally it seems like five pro bowlers. I don’t even know how to describe it. They get Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, they draft Creed Humphrey, who was a dream for many Ravens fans. Their defense is still a bit of a question mark but with Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Jones in there as well, they have the pieces. So, I think this is the year where Baltimore shows improvement and continues their ascension to where they need to go to win a Super Bowl, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t win it this year. So, I’m going to say, it’s Kansas City. They’ve just proven that they are such a dominant football team.

Look, there are situations where I see Baltimore winning the AFC. I’m not going to say there aren’t. There are situations where I see Buffalo winning in as well. But running it through my mind right now, and this is subject to change, I guess a disclaimer, I see Kansas City still winning the AFC in close AFC matchups all across, I think the top four. The final four teams in my eyes will most likely be Buffalo, Cleveland, and Baltimore, and Kansas City, and then from there, it’s the playoffs. Anything can happen.

Colt: Yeah, I agree. This is the first year that I actually feel it could be any one of six teams because of just I think there are six teams that are good enough to beat you on a weekend in the playoffs in the right situation, and who knows? It’s hard to be number one, man. It’s harder to be the champ than just trying to chase the champ. So, very cool, Kevin. I really appreciate you coming on and hanging out with me, man. Before we get out of here, you got anything you need to shout out, anything you’re working on? What’s going on with you that you want to shout out?

Kevin: [chuckles] Well, if you want Ravens content, I am on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @koestreicher34. That’s my personal account. The show handle is @LockedOnRavens, if you want to check out any of my Ravens work. If, hey, the Ravens and the Bills meet in the playoffs, that is ravenswire.com for that site, and then Locked On Ravens goes five days a week. You can get it on any podcast provider, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Odyssey. So, if one day you wake up and you’re saying, “Hey, what’s Lamar Jackson up to today?”, you can go and you can check out my work there.

Colt: I love it. That’s the best way to approach if you’re looking for Ravens content. because he’s got a ton of it, and it’s good content, and he’s got a whole team of people over there at the insider and things like that, too. So, it is good to check out what other teams are up to especially when you’re getting ready to play them, I think. That’s why I’m bringing all you guys on. I want to see what everybody else thinks about this offseason, and what’s going on, and who sits where, and who’s doing what. So, very cool.

Kevin, thanks a lot for joining me, man. It’s super late for you there on the East Coast. Here, I’m on the West Coast. Everybody listening in, thanks for being here. We wouldn’t have a show if you weren’t listening. Make sure you guys go ahead and check out Kevin. I’ll have all this stuff in the notes for you guys to link up with him and check him out. You guys can find me over at thebuffalonerd.com for everything that I’m up to. All right, we’ll see you guys next week, and just for Kevin, go Bills.

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