NFL Season Preview and Predictions: AFC East

Well, here we are, folks, just a month away from the start of yet another NFL Season. Many storylines are up in the air as get ready for another wild ride. Can anybody beat the New England Patriots? Can the Dallas Cowboys ride their now Sophmore Superstars? Can Aaron Rodgers finally lead the Green Bay Packers to another title? And much more. Let’s preview predict the season from all 32 NFL Teams by division.

AFC East

New England Patriots: 2016 Record 14-2: Result: Super Bowl Championship: Prediction: 16-0

Key Additions: Brandin Cooks, Stephon Gilmore, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, David Harris

Key Departures: Martellus Bennett, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Long, Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Logan Ryan, Michael Floyd. 

The head that wears the crown the Patriots coming off their fifth title this century. Of course once again led by the greatest coach and quarterback that have ever lived, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. With possibly the best receiving group in the NFL between Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan and the shiny new toy Brandin Cooks. Dwyane Allen comes over from Indianapolis to join Rob Gronkowski to form a fearsome Tight End duo. Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee join Dion Lewis and James White to form a four headed monster out of the backfield, and Nate Solder the left tackle anchors the OL. On defense, the Patriots retained Alan Branch and Donta Hightower their two best front seven players last season. They lost Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard in free agency and Rob Ninkovich to retirement. So if the Patriots are weak anywhere it’s getting to the Quarterback. In the secondary, the Patriots already had two Pro Bowlers in safety Devin McCourty and cornerback Malcolm Butler they added another one by handing Stephon Gilmore a five year sixty-five million dollar contract on the first day of free agency. Of the 16 games, only 4 I think will be competitive a Thursday Night game in Tampa Bay on October 5th will be a challenge. In week seven they will face the Falcons in a Super Bowl rematch. In back to back weeks, the Patriots will play a mile above sea level Week 10 in Denver, and Week 11 vs Oakland in Mexico City. Then in Week 15, they face the only team in the AFC I feel has a chance to beat them the Pittsburgh Steelers. Expectations have never been higher for the Patriots this year, time will tell if they can live up to the hype.

Miami Dolphins: 2016 Record 10-6: Result Lost Wild Card Weekend: 2017 Prediction 9-7

Key Additions: Julius Thomas, Lawrence Timmons, Anthony Fasano

Key Departures: Earl Mitchell, Dion Jordan, Mario Williams

Not much changed in the offseason for the Dolphins they will enter their 2nd year under Adam Gase as head coach, and Ryan Tannehill is coming off the finest year of his career. His receiving corps is the weak point of the team behind Jarvis Landry this team is pretty thin at receiver. Tannehill will have to depend on his two new tight ends Thomas and Fasano. On defense, the Dolphins continue to hope that Ndamukong Suh will eventually return to his form that locked up his spot in Canton. The linebacker group between Brandon Watts, Kiko Alonso, and Timmons the new addition. In the secondary Bryon Maxwell, a former member of Seattle’s Legion of Boom will team with safety Nate Allen to hope to boost a secondary that struggled last season. The Dolphins open the season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after that the schedule lightens for a while as they will only face one playoff team before week eight. From Week Eight on the Dolphins will face a team that expects the make the playoffs all but twice. The Dolphins have not won a playoff game in 2000 that might change this year but it will be tough to accomplish

Buffalo Bills: 2016 Record 7-9: Result Missed Playoffs for 17th straight season: 2017 Prediction 5-11

Key Additions: Andre Holmes, Mike Tolbert, Micah Hyde, Stephen Hauschka, T. J Yates

Key Departures: Stephon Gilmore, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Mike Gillislee, EJ Manuel

Well, unbelievably the Buffalo Bills have not been to the playoffs the entire time Tom Brady has been in the NFL, and it was Peyton Manning’s 2nd season to put it in perspective. They lost two of their best players, Gilmore and Gillislee to the division rival Patriots. Woods and Goodwin both found new homes on the west coast. The team enters this year under a new GM Brandon Beane and new coach Sean McDermott they added TJ Yates to the team to breathe down the neck of Tyrod Taylor. LeSean McCoy once again will lead the running back group, the receiver group will be all or nothing with talent in Sammy Watkins, Holmes, and Brandon Tate but a lack of height will hurt them. In the Tight End group, it will be up to Charles Clay. New defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will take over a defense that is very talented. Marcell Darrius and Kyle Williams will anchor a great DL, Lorenzo Alexander will lead the linebacker group. And it will be up Ronald Darby and Shareece Wright to fill the void left by the loss of Gilmore. The Bills open the season hosting the Jets, however after that their schedule turns brutal as on their 2nd game vs the Jets will be a game vs a team without playoff expectations. It is unreal how long it’s been since the Bills went to the postseason and it will take a miracle to change that now.

New York Jets: 2016 Record 5-11: Result Missed Playoffs for 6th straight season: 2017 Prediction 0-16

Key Additions: Josh McCown, Morris Claiborne

Key Departures: Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, Darrelle Revis, Nick Folk, David Harris, Marcus Gilchrist

Let’s just call it like it is folks, the Jets are tanking this season. With Quarterbacks expected to go 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the 2018 Draft the Jets are trying and will get one of those spots to get Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson or Josh Rosen. For this year McCown will battle Bryce Petty and Christan Hackenberg for the starting job. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell with lead out of the backfield, Quincy Enunwa will be the only real receiver threat. Austin Seferian-Jenkins will lead the tight end group. If there is any strength for the Jets its the DL between Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson. The Jets open the season in Buffalo, then travel to Oakland the very next week, they host the Super Bowl Champion Patriots in week 6, then host the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in week 8. From Week 10 the Jets will face all teams that expect to make the playoffs. The Jets are doing what they have to do to get back to glory in the NFL.

Cameron Vieira is a contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @CamInTaunton,“Like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google network

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