AFC East Breakdown

By Andy Goddard (@godsy1985)

Last Season

New England Patriots  11-5

Miami Dolphins  7-9

Buffalo Bills  6-10

New York Jets  4-12

New England Patriots:

Draft selections: N’Keal Harry, WR (1.32), Joejuan Williams, CB (2.45), Chase Winovich, DE (3.77), Damien Harris, RB (3.87), Yodny Cajuste, T (3.101), Hjalte Froholdt, OL (4.118), Jarrett Stidham, QB (4.133), Byron Cowart, DT (5.159), Jake Bailey, P (5.163), Ken Webster, CB (7.252).

Offseason key additions: Michael Bennett, DE (Philadelphia Eagles), Mike Pennel, DL (New York Jets), Ben Watson, TE (New Orleans Saints), Jamie Collins, LB (Cleveland Browns), Demaryius Thomas, WR (Houston Texans).

Offseason key departures: Rob Gronkowski, TE (retired), Dwayne Allen, TE (Miami Dolphins), Adrian Clayborn, DE (Atlanta Falcons), Trent Brown, LT (Oakland Raiders), Trey Flowers, DE (Detroit Lions).

Super Bowl odds: 6/1

Analysis:

The New England Patriots, and coach Bill Belichick, have had their annual off-season shake up but this year it just feels …… different. Rob Gronkowski’s retirement has left the Patriots very bare at the tight end position, especially with Ben Watson being handed a 4 game suspension to start the season. On the defensive side, Trey Flowers has joined Matt Patricia in Detroit and Trent Brown got his big payday in Oakland. The addition of Michael Bennett (DE) from Philadelphia as well as resigning Jamie Collins (LB) has covered some of the losses. The strength of the defense is clearly in the secondary and the resigning of Jason McCourty along with the emergence of J.C. Jackson to play alongside Stephon Gilmore should help give the front seven time to pressure. The Patriots have signed a catalogue of wide receivers for training camp as well as drafting N’Keal Harry (WR) in the first round. If Josh Gordon does get reinstated, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady will have a much more dangerous receiving core. But let’s be honest, the AFC East, as a division, is still pretty awful beyond the Patriots!

Look out for:

The Patriots to start the season 2-2 and everyone to have a melt down! Brady is finished, the dynasty is over, the world is ending! Back in the real world; Sony Michel to lead the offense with a 1000+ yard season as the Pats become a run first team behind a very strong offensive line. New England should win the division at a canter but an early exit in the playoffs could end the chance at a fourth straight Super Bowl appearance but who would ever bet against Brady and Belichick?!

Miami Dolphins:

Draft selections: Christian Wilkins, DT (1.13), Michael Deiter, OL (3.78), Andrew Van Ginkel, LB (5.151), Isaiah Prince, T (6.202), Chandler Cox, RB (7.233), Myles Gaskin, RB (7.234).

Offseason key additions: Dwayne Allen, TE (New England Patriots), Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Josh Rosen, QB (Arizona Cardinals), Chris Reed, G (Jacksonville Jaguars), Eric Rowe, CB (New England Patriots).

Offseason key departures: Danny Amendola, WR (Detroit Lions), Brandon Bolden, RB (New England Patriots), Ryan Tannehill, QB (Tennessee Titans), Andre Branch, DE (Arizona Cardinals), Robert Quinn, DE (Dallas Cowboys).

Super Bowl odds: 500/1

Analysis:

The Dolphins have made big changes during the off-season. New head coach Brian Flores has moved over from divisional rivals New England and quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been traded to the Tennessee Titans. Miami made a very smart move bringing in Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick to battle it out for the starting QB job. ‘Fitzmagic’ (as he was known during a spell in Tampa) averaged 9.6 yards per attempt during the 2018 season. The highest mark recorded by PFF for a QB in 13 seasons! But he suffers massively from consistency issues. Kenyon Drake is a decent but not elite running back and losing Danny Amendola could prove to be a big mistake. Defensively, Miami ranked 29th in the 2018 season but Brian Flores is a defensive guy and has a young group to work with. The Dolphins do boast an elite corner back in Xavien Howard and have a solid linebacking group containing Kiko Alonso. They are a team in transition and should be picking quite early in next years draft.

Look out for:

Fitzpatrick to start the season as QB1 but Rosen to take over by week 8. The dolphins are building for the future and although Super Bowl 54 will be held at the Hard Rock Stadium (home of the Dolphins), do not expect to see the Dolphins competing in the big game. A fourth place finish in the AFC East beckons although they should pick up their obligatory win, at home, against the Patriots!

Buffalo Bills:

Draft selections: Ed Oliver, DT (1.09), Cody Ford, T (2.38), Devin Singletary, RB (3.74), Dawson Knox, TE (3.96), Vosean Joseph, LB (5.147), Jaquan Johnson, S (6.181), Darryl Johnson, DE (7.225), Tommy Sweeney, TE (7.228).

Offseason key additions: Cole Beasley, WR (Dallas Cowboys), Frank Gore, RB (Indianapolis Colts), LaAdrian Waddle, T (New England Patriots), John Brown, WR (Baltimore Ravens), Tyler Kroft, TE (Cincinnati Bengals).

Offseason key departures: Charles Clay, TE (Arizona Cardinals), Chris Ivory, RB (Free Agent), John Miller, G (Cincinnati Bengals), Logan Thomas, TE (Detroit Lions).

Super Bowl odds: 100/1

Analysis:

The Bills are built around their defense and they strengthened it further by adding quality through the draft, but they have also improve the offense with some key additions as well. Ed Oliver is a play wrecking defensive tackle and on the opposite side of the ball, Cody Ford could be used at either right tackle or guard to improve a struggling O-line. The Bills pressured opposing quarterbacks on 37% of drop backs last season (6th in the NFL) and there is no reason to think that this stat won’t be similar in 2019. Buffalo worked their salary cap in 2018 to allow them to build for the future and they appear well placed to make steps this season. The addition of Cole Beasley from the Cowboys should give quarterback Josh Allen a prime receiver to keep the chains moving. At running back the Bills have plenty of options led by LeSean McCoy. McCoy averaged just 3.2 yard per carry in 2018 but the offensive line has been greatly improved. As with most teams, the offensive development with very much depend of the progress of Josh Allen.

Look out for:

The Buffalo bills to be around the .500 mark. If Josh Allen can make decent progress, then a record slightly better than this could be achievable with an outside shot at the playoffs. Their run of games from week 13-16 are brutal (@Dallas, vs Baltimore, @Pittsburgh, @New England) and should be a good indicator of how far this team has developed throughout the season. Look for the Bills to cause some upsets along the way but consistency could be their undoing.

New York Jets

Draft selections: Quinnen Williams, DT (1.03), Jachai Polite, DE (3.68), Chuma Edoga, OT (3.92), Trevon Wesco, TE (4.121), Blake Cashman, LB (5.157), Blessuan Austin, CB (6.196).

Offseason key additions: Le’Veon Bell, RB (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tom Crompton, G (Minnesota Vikings), Jamison Crowder, WR (Washington Redskins), C.J. Mosley, LB (Baltimore Ravens), Kelechi Osemele, G (Oakland Raiders), Trevor Siemian, QB (Minnesota Vikings)

Offseason key departures: James Carpenter, G (Atlanta Falcons), Isaiah Crowell, RB (Oakland Raiders), Spencer Long, G (Buffalo Bills), Mike Pennel, DT (New England Patriots), Buster Skrine, CB (Chicago Bears).

Super Bowl odds: 100/1

Analysis:

Adam Gase has moved into the role of head coach after spending three seasons at their divisional rivals, Miami Dolphins. The Jets have made massive improvements to their roster but it was desperately needed! Through the draft, the Jets used four of their six selections on defensive players, selecting Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick. Greg Williams has also joined as defensive co-ordinator and on paper, the front seven looks promising. However, cornerback is still a big cause for concern. Trumaine Johnson picked up a very lucrative contract and needs to start earning that money if the Jets defence are going to take big strides forward. Offensively the addition of Le’Veon Bell at running back is a big upgrade. The Jets offense ranked 29th in 2018 but with Sam Darnold entering his second year with an elite running back and an explosive receiver in Bobby Anderson, I’m expecting to see the Jets finish 2nd in the AFC East and the offense to be ranked much higher in 2019.

Look out for:

The Jets have the personnel on the roster to be a challenger in the AFC. They have a solid defense, playmakers on offense and are building a strong team for the future. However, it may be a season too early for ‘Gang Green’ and I am seriously worried about head coach, Adam Gase! Seriously, what head coach sniffs smelling salts on the sidelines before a preseason game! The Jets were one of my ‘worst to first’ candidates (shameless plug of my last article) and I truly believe they will be very close to a wild card spot in 2019!

2019 Season Prediction

New England Patriots 11-5

New York Jets 9-7

Buffalo Bills 8-8

Miami Dolphins 4-12

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