8 Division 8 Days: AFC East Preview

With Deflategate behind them, Tom Brady and the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East. Photo Courtesy: Rick Leal
With Deflategate behind them, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East. Photo Courtesy: Rick Leal

By Matthew Behrndt

The AFC East has had a very interesting off season. Both on and off the field the entire AFC East has been making story lines the last eight days. On the field, a lot of different changes have been made, in both free agency and trading. Big pieces were acquired by AFC East teams as well as many big pieces have left their respective teams in the East.

The off season story was the big one. Everybody, even non sports fans, know what has been going on with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In case you don’t know what has been going on, here’s what happened:

Basically the NFL found Tom Brady guilty of knowing that the footballs in the AFC championship were under-inflated in order to get a better grip on the ball. Tom Brady contested the findings in court and over a two week span of deliberating with each other they made the judge decide. The judge found that since the NFL could not provide sufficient evidence that Tom Brady’s four game ban would be dropped.

All that being said, the Patriots would have been and are definitely now the favorites to win the division. The Patriots are no longer in an easy division where they could just roll through their opponents, now they are going to have to actually earn a division title.

New York Jets: Record (5-11)
The Jets had a really good off season. They drafted a potential star in Leonard Williams. They also acquired Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, and Antonio Cromartie. On offense is where the Jets are going to struggle. They are planning on starting Ryan Fitzpatrick since Geno Smith got sucker punched in the jaw by one of his own former teammates and will be out for half the season. While Fitzpatrick isn’t terrible he’s not good enough to lead this team to a winning record, especially because the offensive line isn’t very stable either. The defense will help keep scores down giving them a chance to win games. Against high powered offenses, the defense might not be enough.

Buffalo Bills: Record (7-9)
The Bills could be very good, if they just had a capable quarterback. The disciplined, tough-natured Rex Ryan is going to elevate this defense even higher than it already is. With probably the best defensive line in the game, getting pressure on the quarterback is going to be easy. With safety Aaron Williams leading the secondary, they won’t be too bad back there but the linebackers are something to worry about. The offense with Sammy Watkins and Percy Harvin¬†along with newly added LeSean McCoy and a rejuvenated o-line would be very dangerous. The only problem they have is below average quarterbacks leading the way. Tyrod Taylor just isn’t going to get the job done if they want to elevate to the top of the AFC East.

Miami Dolphins: Record (9-7)
The Dolphins would be in more contention if the Brady suspension was held up. Those four games could have really hurt the Patriots in terms of a wins and loses. However, the Dolphins are still going to be good and in contention for a playoff spot. Ryan Tannehill is looking like he is going to be a solid quarterback in this league. He has weapons like Kenny Stills Lamar Miller, DeVante Parker and newly acquired Jordan Cameron, meaning he and the Dolphins should have no problem putting the ball in the end zone. The defense has upgraded significantly since signing Ndamukong Suh. The d-line is going to be be very good but the rest of the defense is spotty. The Dolphins need to have players step up on defense in order to be a real contender in the playoff race.

New England Patriots: Record (12-4)
Patriot fans, once again have won the lottery with the NFL. If the Patriots had lost Tom Brady for the first four games the division would look very different. Since they will have Brady, the Patriots have a very good team. No disrespect to Garoppolo, but Tom Brady brings this team to a much higher level. They have a good receiving core and the best TE in the league, Rob Gronkowski. LeGarrette Blount will be back after he serves his suspension making the running attack an actual threat. The offensive line will have to protect an older Tom Brady in order for this team to be a Super Bowl contender. The defense for this team is going to be pretty good. The secondary is very solid and the linebackers are very good as well. The only question will be can the d-line get enough pressure on the quarterback so that the Patriots can play that tough man to man defense.