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The AFC East this year is one of the most competitive divisions in football. Aside from the Bills, the division boasts three playoff-caliber football teams. As a result, we may end up seeing the Miami Dolphins turn into the Boston Red Sox of this season – better than other teams in the conference, but not good enough to make the playoffs because of their tough division.
The biggest storyline to watch will be the season-long chess game between the Jets and the Patriots. Rex Ryan put a lot on the table by putting his team out there on HBO, yapping about how they need a Super Bowl win this year. And the Patriots may be on their last straw of a dominant decade, as an aging Brady is still in contract talks and Randy Moss likely will be in a different uniform next year.
1. Patriots – Sure there are questions on the defense, but Brady has enough firepower left on offense to carry this team to another division title.
2. Jets – They might be the most entertaining team in the division, but that doesn’t always translate to wins every week.
3. Dolphins – The ‘Fins will be the best third place team in the NFL this season, and may still grab a wild card spot if the cards fall their way.
4. Bills – Buffalo’s seemingly constant rebuilding process continues for another year.
1. Patriots – Common trend these days is to pick the Jets, which will work in the Patriots’ favor by giving a contract-year Brady and Moss something to prove. They will go 12-4.
2. Jets – Everyone’s “team to pick” because their coach never shuts up. The unproven Shonn Greene is not enough for me to say their running game will be the same as the last few years, and they won’t win the division as long as their quarterback keeps giving the ball to the other team.
3. Dolphins – Potential division champions if they were in the NFC or on the west coast, but not big enough to slug it out with the AFC East heavyweights. The addition of pass-catcher/playmaker Brandon Marshall will make the Dolphins a spoiler for a lot of other players.
4. Bills – They keep shooting themselves in the foot. While drafting C.J. Spiller seems exciting, it was not necessary for their crowded and talented backfield, and doesn’t address their embarrassing offensive line nor their inadequate quarterback situation. They’re a top draft pick contender for the 2011 draft, and hopefully they don’t screw it up again.
1. Jets – Darrelle Revis is just one man, and the defense and rushing game is more than enough to make an impact.
2. Patriots – Contract talks aside, Tom Brady is too broken at this point to make the impact he once could.
3. Dolphins – Yeah, they have Brandon Marshall, but what will the Dolphins do once other defenses figure him out?
4. Bills – Without a clear quarterback, the Bills will be doomed to obscurity (again).
1. Patriots – The Pats are looking great so far in the preseason, and as long as the defense continues to take shape, no one in the East will usurp Tom Brady and co.
2. Jets – The flashy Jets are featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, but it remains to be seen if they can back up all the talk they’ve been spitting on the show. New arrivals LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes need to prove they’re not just veteran busts.
3. Dolphins – The acquisition of Brandon Marshall should help, but what is the real Dolphins offense? Will they use the Wild Cat, or will they go through the air with Marshall and a pocket passer like Chad Henne?
4. Bills – The Bills have been mediocre for far too long. They need a season where they are just plain bad so they can get an impact player in the draft, though CJ Spiller is a good start.