For the next few entries, we will be breaking down the divisions. We will analyze who will be the champion before the season starts. We will look at coaching, players, front office, and fanfare to determine which team will come out of their division and contend for their conference championship.
Today we will start with one of the toughest divisions in football. The AFC East is made up of the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and the rejuvenated New York Jets.
The Buffalo Bills show up with a very limited roster. They have many holes on offense and defense. They are clearly the weakest team in the division. They don’t have a solid contributor at the quarterback position and they will be depending on a slew of unproven wide receivers to make a below average quarterback look good.
Offensively the Bills are going to be pretty good. They move the ball well and they are explosive with Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller. They also seem to have settled in on Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.
Defensively the Bills have some issues. They tried to use the draft to get better but it is hard when you have so many positions to fill. If they can keep their nucleus together, the next couple of years should be interesting as things start to turn around in Buffalo.
Key Players for the Bills: Fred Jackson (RB), C.J. Spiller (RB), Stevie Johnson (WR), Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB), and Brad Smith (QB/WR).
Predicted finish in division: LAST
The Miami Dolphins are a transition type of team. From week to week you really don’t know what you are getting. They are obviously coached well and they have talent at a lot of positions. They made many additions that make them intriguing to me this season. I don’t think they can make a serious run at the division title without an upgrade at quarterback.
Offensively the Dolphins have tools and the addition to Reggie Bush should make them pretty explosive. The key is can Bush be an every down back. Also this is the year to see if the Chad Henne selection was a good one at quarterback. I wouldn’t be surprised if the name Lorenzo Favre doesn’t start surfacing in Miami soon. I doubt he would play for them because they aren’t a contender but the quarterback position is going to be an issue for sure.
Defensively the Dolphins are good. They have a core of great defensive players who can make life difficult for opposing offenses. The only real problem is that the defense may have to spend too much time on the field.
Key Players for the Dolphins: Reggie Bush (RB), Brandon Marshall (WR), Chad Henne (QB), Jake Long (OT), Vonte Davis (CB), and Channing Crowder (LB).
Prediction for Dolphins in division: THIRD
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are consistently a good team. This year shouldn’t be any different. The Pats are an aging team and a few superstars have some wear on their treads. They are obviously coached by a mastermind and have consistently been ranked in the top of the power rankings year after year. Last year they struggled a bit as the rest of the AFC has caught up with their style of offense and their defense has undergone some massive change and it will take a little time for them to gel.
Offensively they are stacked again. They made some key additions and got Tom Brady some weapons. Expect another explosive season for the Patriots and expect big numbers for an offense that gets it done. The Patriots added Chad Ochocinco to their passing attack. Maybe Chad can be great again but he hasn’t been that great since he lost his JOHNSON.
Defensively the Patriots are steady. They were young last year but they have made a few key additions to add some spice to that youthful flavor. The will be almost impossible to run on and they have made strides to get some pass rushing in the game as well. It appears they have stacked their roster to handle the Jets offensive game plan.
Key Players for the Patriots: Tom Brady (QB), Chad Ochocinco (WR), BenJarvis Green Ellis (RB), Wes Welker (WR), Jerod Mayo (LB), Sean Ellis (DE), Albert Haynesworth (DT), and Vince Wilfork (DT).
Prediction for the division: FIRST
New York Jets
The New York Jets have it all on paper. Right now you could even say that they are the paper champs of the division. They have it all, a colorful boisterous coach, a plethora of young talent, and a fan base that is dying for some respect. Their biggest problem will be consistency at the quarterback position.
Offensively the Jets should pick up where the left off last year. The only thing I can see is that they won’t be as good running the ball as I don’t believe LT has that much left in the tank. Last year it was about proving he could still play, this year he will not be playing with a chip on his shoulder. I will even go as far as saying that Joe McKnight will be a bigger part of the offense than LT when its all said and done.
Defensively the Jets got exposed a bit at safety as the season wore on. When Jim Leonard went down they lost their leader. Expect that to be remedied this season as they will be solid again in the secondary.
Key Players for the Jets: Mark Sanchez (QB), LaDaininan Tomlinson (RB), Shonn Greene (RB), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Darelle Revis (CB), Santonio Holmes (WR), Bart Scott (LB), and Nick Mangold (C).
Predicted finish in division: SECOND