Behind Enemy Lines: AFC East Season Predictions & Roundup from Final Cuts
Can you feel it? The electricity in the air? That because the preseason is over! And instead of talking about week 4 of the preseason (because I would rather stab myself than write about week 4 of the preseason) I’m going to give you a roster breakdown along with my personal predictions for the AFC East! If I seem really happy, it’s because I don’t have to write articles about the preseason anymore!
New England Patriots:
The Patriots roster looks a little lopsided to say the least. With Brandon LaFell being placed on short-term IR, the Patriots only have four wide receivers on their roster. And one of them is undrafted free agent Chris Harper. Granted, another is seventh round pick Julian Edleman, so I’ll reserve judgment. But the Patriots have as many TE’s on their roster as they do WR’s.
The only real surprise cut this year was Jonas Gray. Cutting Jonas Gray means the Patriots are pleased with the development of James White and Dion Lewis duo, and though this running back corps lacks star power, LeGarrette Blount is one of the more underrated weapons in the NFL. Behind a young offensive line, expect another solid rushing attack from the Patriots this year.
Yes, the Patriots secondary is depleted. Yes losing Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner was huge. Yes the idea of Bradley Fletcher (barf) starting opposite Malcolm Butler isn’t my ideal secondary. But for those of you who can think back to 2007-2012, Bill Belichick is no stranger to crappy secondarys. Bill Belichick is going to use his front seven, arguably one of the most athletic units in the league, to mask any holes in his pass defense. Jerod Mayo comes back for what will hopefully be the entire season, and Jamie Collins is one of the most athletic linebackers in the league. Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard, and Dominque Easley will create pressure in the backfield, and Malcolm Brown will be Wilfork 2.0. And at the end of the day, the Patriots still have Devin McCourty roaming the secondary and creating havoc. And that’s why the Patriots are my pick to repeat as AFC East Champs.
That, and because I’m a dirty, no-good Pats fan.
Note from the Editor: He’s not wrong. Oh, I mean about being a dirty no-good Patriots fan. The rest of the stuff we can work out in a steel cage.
New York Jets:
I sat down to take a good, long look at the Jets’ roster, but had to avert my eyes because damn is it ugly. And it all starts with “QB1: Ryan Fitzpatrick.” Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker give the Jets the best WR corps they’ve had in years (which isn’t saying much) and the running back group has a surprising amount of talent. But at every point while I was reading this roster, my eyes just kept coming back to “QB1: Ryan Fitzpatrick” and I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Until Geno comes back, don’t expect a whole lot from this unit. In fact, don’t expect a whole lot from this unit even after he comes back.
The defense. Ohhhh boy. This defense is mildly frightening to say the least. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie reunite in New York as the backbone behind what is going to be one of the leagues nastiest secondaries. Up front you’ve got Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson (suspensions pending), and Muhammed Wilkerson, who are bound to give most offensive lineman nightmares for the next 16 or so weeks. The linebacking corps lacks any real star power, but it’s not a weak spot for the team either. All said and done, the Jets Defense is primed to be the best defense in the league. And yes, I’m looking at you, Seattle.
That being said, the Jets are still my pick as cellar team in the AFC East. They’re looking to go 6 weeks without Geno Smith, and I just don’t think 6 weeks with Ryan Fitzpatrick is something that this team is going to be able to recover from. Expect the Jets to be eliminated from the playoffs around Week 11.
Unless they were eliminated three weeks ago.
Get excited Bills fans!* I don’t think you’re going to suck the most in the AFC East! Because despite the fact that Buffalo’s offensive unit is paper-thin from a depth perspective, it’s actually not one of the worst units of the league. Maybe I’ve caught Tyrod-fever, but you can’t help but admit that the kid is exciting to watch. He gives the Bills a much better chance of making the playoffs than Matt Cassel or EJ Manuel could. Sammy Watkins is a talented wide receiver who had to put up with less-than-stellar quarterback play in his rookie year, and Percy Harvin is a talented burner who can produce when he’s not punching people in the locker room. LeSean McCoy is LeSean McCoy, and when he’s healthy, he’s a dangerous back. But that’s the issue with this unit. McCoy goes down, game over. Watkins goes down, game over. Taylor goes down, and Bills games become boring again. This unit is one injury away from plunging the Bills back into the cellar of the AFC East.
The Bills defense is still the Bills defense. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Their secondary leaves a lot to be desired, but man is that front seven dangerous. It’s hard to pass against Stephon Gilmore, and it’s damn near impossible to run the ball. All in all, a revamped offense and the same scary defense give the Bills not only a chance to take third in the AFC East, but maybe even a chance to potentially slide into a Wildcard spot for the playoffs.
Note from the Editor: The Rex Ryan hype will wear off within a few weeks of the season and the team will realize that their starting quarterback is STILL Tyrod Taylor. The Bills will be lucky if they can avoid becoming the cellar team in my opinion.
*I am very well aware that there are no Bills fans here
- New England Patriots
- Miami Dolphins
- Buffalo Bills
- New York Jets
This is a division where the teams are going to rough each other up. Patriots finish at number one after sweeping the Jets and Bills, and splitting the Dolphins. I believe that the Dolphins sweep the Bills and split the Jets, because the Jets always find a way to make it happen against Miami. Bills and Jets split each other. Miami will have a rough time making it to the wildcard spot, especially given the new talent in the AFC East and the constant challenge of the AFC North. But I could imagine a scenario where the Patriots clinch the division and the Miami Dolphins fight it out with the second place team in the AFC North for the final playoff spots.