This is the 2016 NFL Season Preview of the AFC East. This division has been dominated by one team last 15 years. The New England Patriots have 13 division titles and 4 Superbowls within that period. They have also gone to 2 other Superbowls and went to the AFC Championship 4 other times. Yes, that’s 10 appearances in the AFC Championship game over the last 15 years. When talking about the AFC overall, much less the AFC East, the talk is about the New England Patriots.
You can expect the same in 2016, but with star Quarterback Tom Brady suspended for four games, can the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills at least give the Patriots a run? Let’s go through them team by team.
Buffalo Bills – The Bills have not won a division title since 1995 and have not made the playoffs since 1999. The biggest hit to the Bills this offseason came on defense as they lost defensive end Mario Williams and will be without NT Marcell Dareus for the 1st four games of the season. On a good note, they did finalize a long-term contract with starting QB Tyrod Taylor.
The biggest issue with the Bills this year will be finding an identity. Rex Ryan usually has a team that will run the ball and play top 5 defense; that was not the case last year. Since he is more scheme that individual talent, he hopes that the losses on defense won’t be too bad, but they need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball, or they could be in for a long, rough year.
Last Year Record 8-8
Vegas Win Prediction 8
My Prediction 5-11
Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The problem is the chemistry of the team seems to be off. They lost LB Vernon Oliver but gained LB Mario Williams. By putting Williams with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh on the same defense, it can be scary for opposing offense, but their team will still come down to the play of their starting QB Ryan Tannehill.
2015 1st round pick, WR DeVante Parker, looks like he is starting to catch up after having a slow start last year due to injuries. He’s not there yet, but you can see flashes of his big-time talent. Starting Center, Mike Pouncey has hurt again. It’s hard to get a good rhythm when the Center and QB are not dependable. They will struggle until that gets sorted out. Their one playoff appearance in 15 years isn’t exactly comforting for fans.
Last Year Record 6-10
Vegas Win Prediction 7
My Prediction 5-11
New England Patriots – There isn’t much more I can say about the Pats others than what I mentioned earlier. They have been the pinnacle and prototype of success in the NFL. They made it to the AFC Title game last year with a below average offensive line, no star WRs, all the controversies of DeflateGate, losing stud CB Darrelle Revis and longtime run stuffing NT Vince Wolfork, and losing RB Dion Lewis to a torn ACL mid-season.
This year appears to be business as usual for the Patriots. They are expected to win the division, despite Brady missing the 1st four games of the year due to suspension. QB Jimmy Garoppolo will start and from everything you hear in camp, they are confident that the 24-year-old, in his 3rd season out of Eastern Illinois, can handle the load despite never starting an NFL game as of yet. No matter what, the Pats always find a way to come out on top in the end.
Last Year Record 12-4
Vegas Win Prediction 10.5
My Prediction 11-5
New York Jets – The Jets were one game away from being a playoff team. In the game that meant the most to them, their QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had the year of his life, had the worst game. Fitzpatrick threw for over 3900 yards and had 31 TDs, but 3 INTs in the final game of the season sealed the Jets fate. And to have that final loss come from 2014 Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, and the Buffalo Bills, made the loss hurt even worse.
The Jets lost their NT Damon “Snacks” Harrison, arguably the best NT in the league. They also lost their starting RB Chris Ivory, who they replaced with aging Matt Forte. The biggest loss may be their All-Pro LT D’Brickshaw Ferguson, who retired this offseason. Can Head Coach Todd Bowles keep the momentum of last year? He’s got a larger hill to climb than even last year because the expectations have now been laid out. The offense is almost all over 30, and that side of the ball is in playoff or bust mode.
Last Year Record 10-6
Vegas Win Prediction 9
My Prediction 7-9
Can the Patriots survive the 1st quarter of the season without their future Hall of Fame Quarterback? Can the Jets finally make the leap into being a playoff team despite the losses on the o-line and d-line? Will Rex Ryan be able to do with the Bills defense what he did with the Jets and Ravens defenses previously? Can Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins finally put everything together and show the talent that they have? All of these questions will be answered during the 2016 NFL Season.