AFC Predictions 

August, 31, 2006
08/31/06
10:22
AM ET
While real life doesn't always mirror fantasy, I think it is important to follow the game, not just your fantasy football players. Good teams don't always breed terrific fantasy players, but bad teams seldom do. So, without hesitation, here are my team-by-team picks, for record and fantasy football. Today's the AFC, tomorrow the NFC.

AFC East:
Miami Dolphins, 11-5: This team is clearly going in the right direction, and I guess I'm buying into Daunte Culpepper, just a little. I think Culpepper can guide this team to a division title, but ultimately he won't be putting up the record-setting stats from his Viking days. Ronnie Brown rushes for 1,400 yards and 10 scores, totally justifying his late first-round status. And while you won't see the Dolphins defense among the top 10 in most fantasy leagues, I'd bet they end up there. This team could go far, as you'll see in my playoff predictions at the bottom.

New England Patriots, 10-6, wildcard: I have concerns about a few key positions, including a number on the defense. The Pats won half their games last year in the division, and while the Bills and Jets really aren't stronger, I could see a slip or two here. Tom Brady tops 25 touchdowns yet again, even without a standout Deion Branch, who eventually signs in Week 4 and doesn't approach his 2005 stats. Corey Dillon starts quick, gets hurt and barely cracks 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns and Laurence Maroney sees enough time to be a fantasy helper, you just won't know when to activate him. And the kicking game, how can it be any more obvious that this will be an issue?

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