By Maximillian C. Burgos | Contributing Writer
New England Patriots (10-6):
For a long time, the Patriots have remained at the top of the AFC East, but their days are numbered. Tom Brady is not getting any younger, as he recently turned 40-years-old, and the Patriots don’t give their defense the same attention to detail that they give their offense. The simple fact of the matter is that once a QB turns 40, they just can’t compete the same way they used to, except in very rare cases.
The Patriots will still defiantly be competitive, but they will not be the same dominant presence they have been in recent years. Too many things need to take place in order for them to return to the same machine they were last year and it just does not seem likely. Julian Edelman is only getting older, Rob Gronkowski struggles every year to stay healthy, and the Patriots lost work horse RB in LeGarrette Blount. Blount signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles after the Patriots failed to make a competitive offer.
The Patriots will have a good year, but they will suffer from the Championship hangover and fail to reproduce the same results they had last year.
Miami Dolphins (8-8):
The Miami Dolphins really stepped it up last season making it into the playoffs in head coach Adam Gase’s first-year with the team. But, if Ryan Tannehill does not play, as he was recently injured in the preseason, the Dolphins lost a large offensive contributor. The team is still unsure if he’ll have to undergo season-ending surgery.
Tannehill risked his skin many times last year with his legs to put the Dolphins in position to win games. Matt Moore is one of the better backup quarterback’s in the league at the moment, but he is no Tannehill.
If the Dolphins are going to be more competitive this year, their defense needs to play better than it did last year. They need to keep games close if Tannehill does not play. Their rushing attack also needs to be strong this year to make up for the drop-off in passing stats. They should have an average year after everything is all said and done.
Buffalo Bills (7-9):
The Buffalo Bills are under a new regime with new expectations and play-styles. Sean McDermott has made many changes to the culture of the team and made it a more business-like environment, but his tactics have yet to be proven on the field. The Bills have a lot of talent, but with an aging offensive line and running back, the Bills may have a mediocre year with such a tough schedule.
The Bills also struggle to stay healthy. As we get closer to the season: Cordy Glenn, Shaq Lawson, Micah Hyde, Corey Brown and LeSean McCoy are all questionable on the injury list. If the Bills manage to stay healthy and perform under a more serious regime, they may have a good year, maybe even have a shot at the Wild Card game. But, as things stand at the moment, 7-9 is generous. Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins, and other talented player also need to step up this year to prove their worth.
New York Jets (4-12):
The New York Jets are quickly becoming the punchline of many jokes in the AFC East. They had a horrible season last year. They still have many questions at quarterbacks — Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty presently on the depth chart — a running back on the wrong side of 30 [Matt Forte], and no real notable players on offense. The Jets were not good on either side of the ball last year and did not do nearly enough this off-season to right its wrongs.
The Jets do not look like a competitive unit. They have the look and feel of another mediocre team rebuilding itself for another year. The team could make some noise and play hard against some of its Division rivals, but they won’t make any waves in the League this year and may be looking for a new head coach by the end of the year, along with yet another high draft pick.
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