NFL: AFC East Team Previews and Predictions
Now that we’ve completed the entire NFC, now it is time to switch over to the other conference and go over the to the AFC. Today, we’ll be going over the AFC East, the division that holds the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. The Patriots run in the division has been as dominant as pretty much any team has been in all of sports, and it’s expected to continue this year. This division also contains 1 of, if not the worst team in the NFL, the New York Jets. So, we have a wide range of levels to go over in the AFC East Divisional Predictions.
It’s hard to say a team isn’t tanking when they trade their best WR and CB in the same day. The Bills did obtain Jordan Matthews, but he is also a free agent and they aren’t expected to re-sign him after the year. Tyrod Taylor was almost let go last year and could be at the end of this year. The one shining star on the Bills offense is LeSean McCoy, who is creeping closer to the dreaded age 30 for RBs. This team is lost offensively right now.
Just like on offense, going from Watkins to Matthews, the Bills downgraded at CB by trading Ronald Darby and receiving EJ Gaines from the Rams. Unlike the offense, this side of the ball actually has some pieces to hang their hats on. Their defensive line of Jerry Hughes, Shaw Lawson, Marcell Dareus, and Kyle Williams is very good. Preston Brown and Reggie Ragland are 2 solid LBs and Tre’Davious White looks to be special at CB. Still, with how bad the offense is, the defense will have to shoulder a heavy load, which means they’ll be on the field s lot.
Record Last Year 7-9
Vegas Win Line 6.5
My Prediction 4-12
Ryan Tannehill is done for the year and Jay Cutler steps in to be the starting QB. This team has a lot of weapons on the offensive end. I’m a big Jarvis Landry fan and DeVante Parker is ready to break out. Their RB Jay Ajayi has his breakout year last year and Kenny Stills is still one of the fastest guys in the league and can be used to stretch the field. Cutler looks like a hall of fame QB on the practice field, but Dolphins fans will soon realize that we’re talking about practice, not the game, practice.
Overall the Dolphins have a really good defense. They don’t have any holes that stand out. Cameron Wake is their star pass rusher, however, he’s 35 now and 2 years removed from a torn Achilles. At that age, you can never tell when their production level will fall off a cliff. They need to get another pass rusher and then they could be a top 5 defense.
Record Last Year 10-6
Vegas Win Line 7.5
My Prediction 8-8
New England Patriots
Not much can be said about the Patriots that isn’t already known. They have a top 5 QB of all time in Tom Brady. They have 1 of the most havoc-causing TEs of all time on Rob Gronkowski. And despite losing Mr. Reliable, Julian Edelman, for the year with a torn ACL, they still added the speed of Brandin Cooks. Good luck trying to slow down this team. Only thing that could, is a bad day from Mr. Brady, which is a rare thing. The one thing that does cause bad days, a big-time pass rush.
The Patriots are not bad on defense either, but they aren’t unbeatable. They have a solid, but not great pass rush. They traded for Kony Ealy to help with that. However, he has since been released. They also drafted Derek Rivers to help with the pass rush, but he’s done for the year with a knee injury. Dont’a Hightower is back, but the other 2 LBs leave a lot to be desired. They upgraded from Logan Ryan to Stephon Gilmore, but will he fit into the Patriots way?
Record Last Year 14-2
Vegas Win Line 12.5
My Prediction 14-2
New York Jets
I think that me giving them 3 wins this year is a gift. This team is so bad right now offensively, that it feels like Matt Forte is being held hostage against his will when they didn’t release him like they did with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Even the 1 remaining WR that produced last year, Quincy Enunwa is done for the year with a neck injury. They drafted 2 guys I like in WR ArDarius Stewart and Jordan Leggett, so at least there’s that. Pray for Forte.
The Jets, like I discussed with the Bills earlier, don’t have anything on offense, but their defense has good potential. They took Jamal Adams with their 1st pick in the draft and he is a true team leader. He won’t let guys slack and he’ll keep everyone accountable. They also took Marcus Maye to go with last year’s 1st and 3rd round picks LBs Darren Lee and Jordan Jenkins. They signed a solid veteran CB in Morris Claiborne and they have 3 studs on their line in Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Sheldon Richardson (who is playing LB currently). They should keep adding to this side of the ball.
Record Last Year 5-11
Vegas Win Line 4.5
My Prediction 3-13
The AFC East always produces upsets you don’t expect. The Dolphins and Jets typically play the Patriots tough. The games between the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets are always close. The level of football may not be as good as some of the other divisions, but it does give you a sense of urgency when these teams play each other. The sad part about this year is 2 of these teams will likely be in the top 6 picks of the draft, which means we could be seeing some bad football on our hands. Still, enjoy the games.