Previewing the 2010 NFL Season – AFC EAST (FINAL) EDITION

In this segment I am going to preview every team in the NFL, division by division, and predict their level of success throughout the season.  Today, in the final edition, I will be covering the AFC East.

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots (11-5)

(Notable games: Week 1 – September 12th vs. Cincinnati, Week 2 – September 19th at New York Jets, Week 4 – October 4th at Miami, Week 6 – October 17th vs. Baltimore, Week 7 – October 24th at San Diego, Week 8 – October 31st vs. Minnesota, Week 10 – November 14th at Pittsburgh, Week 11 – November 21st vs. Indianapolis, Week 13 – December 6th vs. New York Jets, Week 15 – December 19th vs. Green Bay, Week 17 – January 2nd vs. Miami)

Don’t worry, I’ve already heard all of the reasons why the Patriots won’t be good this season.  Randy Moss is uninspired.  The defense is too young.  They have no pass rush.  They cannot run the ball.  Wes Welker isn’t ready to play yet.  Even Tedy Bruschi picked the Bengals to win their week 1 match up (but I think that was done purely to inspire the team).  What people fail to recognize year in and year out is that there are two key members of the New England Patriots that will make sure the team experiences a certain level of success.  Tom Brady is too good of a quarterback and Bill Belichick is too good of a coach (best in the league in my opinion) for the Patriots not to win the AFC East.  And let me just send out a little notice to all of the “experts” out there proclaiming the Jets as the greatest team since the ’72 Dolphins…THEY WERE 9-7 LAST SEASON!  THEIR LAST TWO REGULAR SEASON GAMES WERE AGAINST THE COLTS AND THE BENGALS, WHO SAT THEIR STARTERS BECAUSE THEY HAD THEIR POSTSEASON SPOTS WRAPPED UP!  Mark Sanchez has shown no indication that he looks to improve in his second year in the league…but now I’m getting off topic.  I’m not concerned about the offense.  They may struggle to run the ball with the absence of Mankins, but they will have no problem being one of the best passing teams in the NFL.  As for the defense, their line really doesn’t worry me.  They have spent so many draft picks to gain depth on the d-line that Warren’s injury doesn’t bother me.  Mayo and Spikes are my two favorite defensive players on the team and both will be solid up the middle.  Pressuring the quarterback will be a huge issue, but how is that different from last season.  I’m not at all worried about Butler and McCourty out wide.  These kids are good, young, talented players that performed well throughout the preseason.  While some inconsistencies may be present, the experience gained will benefit the team greatly later this season and in the future.  I expect the Pats to win the AFC East and make their way deep into the playoffs, possibly a trip to the AFC Championship game.  While I think the Super Bowl is a bit out of reach, I never count out Brady, Belichick and the Pats.

2. New York Jets (9-7)

(Notable games: Week 1 – September 13th vs. Baltimore, Week 2 – September 19th vs. New England, Week 3 – September 26th at Miami, Week 5 – October 11th vs. Minnesota, Week 8 – October 31st vs. Green Bay, Week 11 – November 21st vs. Houston, Week 12 – November 25th vs. Cincinnati, Week 13-15 – at New England, vs. Miami, at Pittsburgh)

Much has been made of the Jets playoff run last season.  They are already being anointed as the kings of the AFC East.  But, I think that the Jets have one big question mark that can’t be overlooked.  Mark Sanchez just doesn’t strike me as a successful quarterback, at least so far in his NFL career.  The show Hard Knocks gave many of us an inside look into the Jets training camp, and therefore unprecedented access to their players.  Sanchez strikes me as immature, childish, and lacks the self confidence to be a great quarterback in this league.  Aside from Sanchez, the Jets offense will struggle at wide receiver before Santonio Holmes returns from suspension.  On the defensive side, the Jets are very sound, especially now that Revis has signed his deal, and they look to again be one of the top units in the league.  But, I think Sanchez’s lack of maturity will be a huge hindrance to the Jets’ success.  I expect a similar season for the Jets as last season, but if they manage to make the playoffs a good defense always proves to be dangerous.

3. Miami Dolphins (8-8)

(Notable games: Week 2 – September 19th at Minnesota, Week 3 – September 26th vs. New York Jets, Week 4 – October 4th vs. New England, Week 6 – October 17th at Green Bay, Week 9 – November 7th at Baltimore, Week 14 – December 12th at New York Jets, Week 17 – January 2nd at New England)

The Brandon Marshall addition was one of the biggest moves in the NFL this off season.  Wide receiver, prior to the Marshall deal, was their biggest weak spot.  But, the addition of Marshall provides an added offensive threat, besides Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and the wildcat offense, that they Dolphins have not had in a very long time.  The problem in Miami is who will be throwing Marshall the ball all season.  Chad Henne was decent last season, but how much better is he going to get in the Dolphins’ run first offense?  Apparently Jake Long is experiencing some sort of knee problems, which doesn’t help the pass game either.  On defense the Dolphins are decent, but getting to the quarterback again is a big concern.  I expect the Dolphins to finish the season at .500, but the last game of the season (vs. New England) be of exceptional importance as the Patriots will be fighting for playoff position and the Dolphins for their playoff lives.

4. Buffalo Bills (4-12)

(Notable games: Week 2 – September 19th at Green Bay, Week 3 – September 26th at New England, Week 4 – October 3rd vs. New York Jets, Week 7 – October 24th at Baltimore, Week 11 – November 21st at Cincinnati, Week 13 – December 5th at Minnesota, Week 16-17 – vs. New England, at New York Jets)

The Bills will be challenging other teams in the NFL as to who will be the worst.  C.J. Spiller is an electric young running back that will be a spark in the Bills’ offense.  Sadly, that is about the only sign of offensive fire power that the Bills will have.  They have yet to figure out their quarterback situation, their offensive line is among the worst in the league, and Lee Evans is the only notable wide receiver on the roster.  Their defensive transition to the 3-4 defense will take some time.  Buffalo’s personnel, as currently constituted, doesn’t suit a 3-4 defense perfectly.  But, young linebackers Paul Posluszny and Aaron Maybin will benefit from all of the experience that they will gain in Buffalo this season.  I expect a pretty dismal season for the Bills, but similar to other bad teams, they can look forward to a high draft pick.

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