AFC East Preview by Jim Feist
New England Patriots: Of course, we will begin here. When you think of domination, the Patriots control of the AFC East is unprecedented. We all know who the key cast members are but what most don’t talk about is how little this team is challenged by the other members of this conference. No matter how good the Pats are, the issue at playoff time is how poorly the Pats schedule ranks vs the other opponents they must face to get to and win the Super Bowl.
Be that as it may, the Patriots with Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck are not to be disregarded. Even in last year’s loss to the Eagles the Pats offense, run by Brady was magnificent. It was the lack of defense vs Nick Foles and the Eagles that did them in.
Again, this year the Pats are favored to with the AFC East by a wide margin and again Vegas sees them as the best in the overall AFC. And, they are very likely correct in their assumption. The Patriots did lose some talent that will need to be addressed if they are to maintain their dominance. They lost LT Nate Solder, RB Dion Lewis, two WR’s Cooks and Amendola and their defense is lacking a pass rush that will matter when facing talented offensive teams. In addition, the defense lost defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who takes over as head coach of the Detroit Lions.
Who will challenge them? In the East no one is even close. Overall in the AFC, someone could emerge. Perhaps the Steelers or Jags, who were both good enough last season to compete, will rise up to take them down.
The Pats will win the division again but will not be as good overall.
Buffalo Bills: This is for sure a team in transition, as they always seem to be. QB Tyrod Taylor is gone to Cleveland and with him goes stability, if not greatness at the key position. QB AJ McCarron and Josh Allen do not inspire and the OL is a total rebuild. RB Leshon Mccoy has some legal problems that could end his season or his career. I don’t see this team winning five games this year.
Miami Dolphins: Gone for good from the NFL is Jay Cutler and I’m sad to see him go. Why? Because I could mostly depend on him under performing, which always gave me some juicy betting opportunities. The Fish are the only other club in the division, besides the Pats, with a solid starting QB situation. Ryan Tannehill, in my opinion, is step up over Jay Cutler. He will bring much more passion to the position than Jay ever did. They did lose Mike Pouncey and Suh and WR Jarvis Landry. And I have not been impressed at all by HC Adam Gase. Basically their ownership and management leaves a lot to be desired.
New York Jets: HC Todd Bowles did a good job last year with a limited squad. Because of Bowles coaching, the Jets could be a second place team behind the Pats. The Jets continued their search for a top tier quarterback as they missed the playoffs last year with a 5-11 record. So the Jets went out and drafted Sam Darnold, QB out of USC in the first round with the third overall pick. They had to trade a lot to get Darnold. Many rated Darnold the best QB in the draft and the Jets are very happy to have landed him. He still needs weapons to throw to though and they really didn’t address that with the remainder of the draft. Only time will tell if Darnold translates from paper to the NFL field, but the Jets could be the team to push the Patriots if Darnold does live up to expectations.