A lot of things have happened to each time in the AFC East this offseason, and we may see a different division champion this year. For New England, Cam Newton is the new starter after Tom Brady departed. As for the Bills, they have added two veteran pieces on both sides of the ball. They traded for wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and also acquired cornerback Josh Norman from Washington. The Jets traded first team All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the Seahaws, as New York just wasn’t the best place for him to thrive in. The Dolphins drafted National Champion Tua Tagovailoa with the 5th overall pick, but they will be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick.
- New England Patriots
Yes, the future hall of fame quarterback for the Patriots is no longer in New England, but the Pats are still in good hands. We all know that both Bill Bellicheck and Tom Brady are looking to prove that they can both win without each other. Well, new starter Cam Newton is also out to prove that he isn’t an old, rusty quarterback, and that he has a lot more to give to this game. Newton made the Superbowl once with the Panthers, and has some playoff experience. Many reporters looked at the Patriots as a team that will never be able to meet past expectations, but I think that they can still make a decent playoff run in the AFC, and prove doubters wrong. You have one of the greatest coaches of all time, and a great leader in Cam Newton, not to mention a rising star in Sony Michel. My bold prediction for this division is that the New England Patriots will win the AFC East once again, and make a run to the conference championship. This year is anything but a championship or bust for New England. They are bringing in a leader who is coming off of a season-long injury, and their roster isn’t too good on paper. But knowing Bill Bellicheck, he will always find a way towards success.
Record Prediction: 10-6 (1-1 vs Bills, better overall division record)
- Buffalo Bills
The Bills have received all the hype for winning the division this year, and possibly ending the AFC East dominance by the New England Patriots. They traded for a star receiver in Stefon Diggs, who will be a key target for the young Josh Allen. Diggs has experience being the veteran leader, and has shown that he can excel in key moments. Diggs had a nice game against the Jets, recording 86 yards on 8 receptions, as the Bills started the season with a good win. On paper, Buffalo has a good team, but they need to be able to compete at a high level, consistently, if they want to make a run for the Super Bowl. What needs to happen for a possible Super Bowl appearance is a breakout season from both Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen, the same, tough, Bills defense as last season, and a very, very productive season from Devin Singletary. My prediction is that they will still clinch a playoff spot, in the wildcard round, and may be able to surprise people this year. But a lot needs to happen in order for the Bills to prove people wrong. A couple of questions for this season for Buffalo fans are: Can this offense get to top 10, maybe even a top 5 level? Will Josh Norman be a good fit under Leslie Frazier?
Record Prediction: 10-6
- Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are hoping to make something big happen this year, but it just seems like Miami fans will have to wait a little longer. For one, we don’t know if the Dolphins will give rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa a chance to start this year, or if he will be getting knowledge from Ryan Fitzpatrick on the bench. Miami had a pretty good offseason, landed a top 5 cornerback in Byron Jones, a veteran linebacker in Kyle Van Noy, and a former Pro Bowl running back in Jordan Howard. This all looks good on paper, but will it make that big of a difference this year? In reality, the answer is no because the Dolphins organization seems as if they want to wait it out to push all their options towards winning. They don’t want to risk re-injuring Tua (which will be a good decision in the long run), and they are still a couple veterans away from making playoff noise. This season is still important for a few players on the roster than others. DeVante Parker had an outstanding season last year, being one of the most underrated receivers to have. Parker had 72 receptions for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. His best year before that was in 2016, where he had 744 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 56 receptions. As you can see, if he wants to reach the next tier, he needs to have another great season. Parker is the main source of production on the offensive end for Miami, so they’ll be counting on him to make tough plays, and put Miami on the spot. Although the Dolphins as a group may not be able to go far this year, Tua will know who his guy will be, come next season. And, let’s say that Miami does make a run. That would only happen if Parker can give this offense a boost. Not to mention, Miami extended him last December, with a four year extension worth up to $40 million, and $20 million guaranteed. Maybe Miami could do something special this year, but I just don’t think it can happen.
Record Prediction: 6-10
- New York Jets
The Jets have continued to disappoint year in and year out, and this year will be like every other. New York traded away All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, and it looks like they are going to continue into the wrong direction. There is no consistency with this team, nor is there any form of chemistry. One goal for them this season should be to be consistent on at least one side of the ball. They have Le’Veon Bell, who can hurt you with the run or pass game. They have a young Josh Doctson, and Jamison Crowder. The Jets need to find a way to give this team confidence that they can win. Confidence can give Sam Darnold all he needs to trust his receivers. It’s the little things that hurt the Jets, and corrections need to be made soon. Simple as that.
Record Prediction: 4-12
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