NFL: AFC East Standings Predictions for the 2018 Season
Coming into this season the AFC East might be one of the weaker divisions as a whole in the league. This is highlighted by the fact that since 2000, the Patriots have won the division 15 times. However, the division is going through a rebuild and the Patriots’ dominance won’t last forever.
Buffalo Bills (Overall record: 5-11, Division: 1-5)
The Buffalo Bills had one of their best seasons since the turn of the century which isn’t really saying much. They won 9 games in a season for only the third time since 2000. They snuck in on the last week of the season before eventually getting ousted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Wildcard round.
The franchise made two big moves this offseason. The first was trading away their starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns for a 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft. The second big move was then drafting Josh Allen out of Wyoming to be their next franchise quarterback. These two moves make it clear the Bills are in rebuild mode and plan to do it around the rookie QB. Although they do have a few offensive weapons in LeSean McCoy and Kelvin Benjamin the Bills as a team won’t be turning many heads this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bills aren’t what you call an impenetrable wall. They gave up just over 22 ppg last season and ranked in the bottom 3rd of the league in terms of total team defense. Aside from Micah Hyde, the Bills are still looking for star playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.
Aside from last season the Bills really haven’t had much success the past few years. Josh Allen has a high ceiling but it might take some time before he even gets near it. It’s clear that this is a true rebuild but time will tell just how long it’ll be before they will contend again.
Miami Dolphins (Overall record: 7-9. Division: 3-3)
The Dolphins have been stuck in a sort of limbo over the past decade. They’ve had okay teams but never really made it over the hump to becoming a good or great team. They made the playoffs in 2016 but are now trying to figure out what the next step or the franchise is.
The jury is still out on Miami’s quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He missed all of last season with a leg injury and will be looking to prove himself as a true franchise quarterback. The Dolphins did lose arguably their best offensive player in Jarvis Landry as he is now “Blessing” people for the Cleveland Browns. However, the Dolphins still have a pretty solid receiver core with Kenny Stills, Devante Parker, and newly acquired Danny Amendola.
Kenyan Drake will be spearheading the rushing attack this season for Miami. He’s a dynamic back who can make people miss as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. In fact, he had the most rushing yards of out of all running backs in the last 5 games of last season.
Defensively the Dolphins still have some solid playmakers with Cameron Wake on the D-line and Kiko Alonso heading the linebacker corps. They also added highly touted Minkah Fitzpatrick out of Alabama at safety.
It may be another sub-par year for Adam Gase’s team. They really haven’t done much to improve their roster aside from getting some problematic players out of the locker room. In a weak AFC East Miami looks like they’ll be contending with the Jets for second place.
New York Jets (Overall record: 8-8, Division: 3-3)
The Jets are coming off a season in which they defied the experts who had them pegged at going winless. The Jets went 5-11 and could’ve probably won more games if they knew how to finish. However, entering this year, the Jets have found themselves on a potential franchise turning point.
The Jets may have finally found their franchise quarterback after years of searching when they drafted Sam Darnold with the #3 pick in this past NFL draft. Darnold was pegged to be the best quarterback in the draft and the Jets were more than happy to have traded up to 3 to get him. Heading into the last week of preseason it was unclear who the starter would be week one. However, that question was answered when the Jets traded Teddy Bridgewater and a 6th round pick to the New Orleans Saints for a 3rd round pick.
However, it’s clear that the defense will be the strength of this team this year. Their upgraded secondary which, on top of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, now includes Trumaine Johnson will certainly make some waves. One interesting note is that the defense hasn’t given up an offensive touchdown through the first 3 weeks of preseason.
The Jets schedule isn’t the friendliest, especially for a rookie quarterback. In fact, the Jets start the season with 3 games in 11 days. This includes opening the season on the road on Monday Night against the Detroit Lions. But, the Jets have more pieces than they did last season and Todd Bowles always gets the most out of his guys. If anything this season is just a set up for next year.
New England Patriots (Overall record: 12-4, Division: 5-1)
Although the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl they still come into this season as the favorites to not only win the AFC East but also go back to the big game. They have been the gold standard of football for the past 2 decades and this year should be no different.
It wouldn’t be a Patriots offseason without a little bit of controversy. Aside from the ongoing rumors that there’s a power struggle between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft, there was also things related to the players themselves. Tom Brady has gotten some slack for his patented workout regime and wide receiver Julian Edelman is suspended for the first 4 games due to violating the league’s drug policy of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs). Even without a receiver core with many known commodities, there’s no doubt Brady will have them playing like studs.
On top of that, Rob Gronkowski is still going to put up good offensive numbers and James White and Rex Burkhead will be pests out of the backfield. And although they lost Nate Solder to the Giants, their offensive line should still do a great job of keeping Brady upright. Defensively the Patriots haven’t been too great as of late especially last season. They ranked 20th in rush defense and ranked 30th in pass defense. However, they always do just enough to help the offense which never has a hard time putting points on the board.
Barring a season-ending injury to Brady the Patriots should run away with the division yet again. Especially since 2 of the teams are rebuilding through rookie quarterbacks. They’ll probably lose one game to either the Dolphins or Jets, however, there isn’t much stopping them from making a return to the Super Bowl.
How do you feel about how the AFC East will shape out? Leave a comment below.
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