Here we are with another NFL season and as usual, not much has changed in the dismal AFC East. It’s 2017 but if you have been sleeping under a rock for the past ten years, the division still looks the same as it did back in 2007. It’s the New England Patriots kingdom while the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets all compete to see who will be the best peasant to finish in second place. Heading into this offseason, the Dolphins were convinced this could be the year they dethrone the Patriots but with the loss of starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill to a knee injury that will force him to miss the entire season, everything is now in doubt. The Dolphins were lucky enough to bring in a quarterback in Jay Cutler, who despite receiving a lot of criticism, is at least an experienced starting quarterback but with a short time to get to know the offense, as well as his teammates, it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will play out. As I mentioned earlier however, it really doesn’t matter because they are all playing for second place after the Patriots.
Patriots – Predicted Record (13-3) I feel like I’m almost disrespecting the Pats by saying they will lose three games this year. It’s very likely that one or two of those losses could come late in the season as the Patriots rest many of their important players to make sure they’re healthy for the playoffs. Their second half schedule is actually pretty tough as it includes away games at Oakland, Denver and Pittsburgh and home field advantage could be riding on games like those. Expect the feel of that monster comeback in the Super Bowl to carry into this season. Tom Brady still looks like he is drinking from the fountain of youth and this year he is reloaded with more weapons. While the Pats did unfortunately lose Julian Edelman for the season with a knee injury, they covered that loss by bringing in Brandin Cooks from the Saints, as well as trading for Phillip Dorsett from the Colts, in a move that saw them send third string quarterback, Jacob Brissett to Indianapolis in return. Rob Gronkowski staying on the field is always a concern but they went out and got Martellus Bennett from the Packers as insurance at tight end. The defense remains as good as it was last year and they will likely be even better with the addition of Stephon Gilmore in the defensive backfield. The Patriots aren’t concerned with the division in the least bit. They have their eyes on much bigger things, such as a return trip to the Super Bowl and it doesn’t seem like there is any team in the AFC as a whole that will be able to prevent that from happening.
Dolphins – Predicted Record (8-8) The Dolphins do have a talented roster but in reality they are at least another year away from really scaring the Patriots and that was BEFORE Ryan Tannehill was lost for the season. Jay Cutler was brought in due to his relationship with head coach, Adam Gase and the familiarity with the offense but there is a lot that remains to be seen about what Cutler can do on the field this season. He was terrible in Chicago last year and was well on his way to an analyst job this year before the Dolphins came calling. He has weapons like Jarvis Landry at his disposal but most experts don’t even have the Dolphins finishing at .500 for the year. If they want to have any type of chance at a wild card spot, they are going to rely heavily on their defense, led by Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake.
Bills – Predicted Record (6-10) The Bills haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999 and that streak will definitely continue for the 2017 campaign. Buffalo at one point this offseason, seemed to be in tank mode when they let the Patriots take their best defensive player in Stephon Gilmore and then they traded their best wide receiver in Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams and really got crumbs in return. Tyrod Taylor is still full of question marks at the quarterback position and although having LeSean McCoy as a safety net to help Taylor throughout the year, first year coach, Sean McDermott is going to have his hands full with a roster that saw more than half the players from last year’s team not stick around for 2017. There will be a handful of games there the Bills are competitive but even reaching six wins could be tough.
Jets – Predicted Record (2-14) I’m going to try and keep this short about the Jets because they don’t deserve a lot of words. Even getting two wins on their schedule could be a stretch. This is going to be one of the worst teams we have seen in years. They are bad, real bad from top to bottom. It’s clearly a tank season for the franchise as they hope to rebuild by landing the #1 pick in the 2018 draft where they will definitely be drafting one of the prized quarterbacks who will be in the draft. The 2017 season doesn’t matter for them for anything other than accomplishing the tank. Their quarterback situation is laughable with Josh McCown and Christian Hackenberg and there are no weapons to throw the ball to even if the quarterbacks were any good. Trading Sheldon Richardson to the Seahawks was the final move in cementing the tank for 2017. If there is anything to feel good about as a Jets fan, it’s that they did draft well this past April, adding two safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Hayes, who could both become big time players in the next few years.