The AFC East has three genuine contenders this season and after a near decade of New England dominating it many pundits are forecasting a changing of the guard. However writing the Patriots off is not always a wise thing to do and the only thing that looks certain in the is that they will beat up on each other meaning only one wild card if any is likely to come out of the East.
The New York Jets have really splashed out this season in what looks like a who cares about tomorrow move. They look strong all over but picking up veterans like Jason Taylor and LaDanian Thomlinson (LT) is not the way to long term success and with only 4 draft picks this year the future looks a little dimmer. Still I am sure that Jets fans wont mind a few doldrums seasons in the future if they can end their 41 year Super Bowl drought this year.
So what can go wrong for the Jets? Well Mark Sanchez still has to step up and deliver, and he will have no excuses this year thanks to a potent receiving corp, reinforced by the addition of Santonio Holmes. With Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchey also in the line up he has plenty of weapons but he will have to show he is a true franchise QB in 2010.
Overall the Jets have a great offensive line and on defense their secondary is possibly the best in the NFL, especially in Cromartie gets anywhere near his 2007 form. The loss of Thomas Jones could tell latter in the season and they are asking a lot of the inexperienced Shonn Greene who will be expected to put in the majority of the ground work. Although they will expect a lot of LT he is probably going to manage no more than 10-15 carries in a game.
Still QB and Running back concerns aside the Jets look like genuine contenders and they should be good enough to finally take the AFC East crown for the first time since 2002. Whether they are good enough to go all the way is a different matter,
The New England Patriots have had a bit of a strangle hold on the AFC east having won it seven times in the last nine years and they are probably the team of the decade having collected 3 Super Bowls. However over the last few seasons they have started to look a bit less formidable as the squad aged and household name starters began to retire. Still the coaching staff still seem to manage to take players who looked ordinary at other franchises and make them better, and they have loaded up in the draft this year adding depth all over the field with their 12 picks. Second round Pick Brandon Spikes looks like fitting right into the defense and should bring a bit of instinctive line play which has been lacking since Teddy Bruschi retired. They will need to address their WR needs next year but both Randy Moss and Torry Holt look to have a season or two in them yet so this shouldn’t be a problem, and in Tom Brady they have one of the best QB’s in the NFL. The Patriots might just revel in their underdog status and it will be a brave person who wagers too much against them making the post season. The Games against the jets will be crucial and the December meeting could decide the destination of the division.
The Miami Dolphins are on the up and they could become the Patriots main challengers next season. This year they will be hard to beat and in Brandon Marshall they have a class wide receiver who could give Chad Henne that weapon he lacked in 2009. However he cant do the job on his own and nothing else has been done to improve what was the teams big weakness in 2009. Overall they look solid and will be hard to score against, but against the elite passing teams they will probably find themselves out scored too often and this will cost them a play off place in 2010. An 8-8 or 9-7 season looks the most likely outcome for them however if they use the 2011 draft to sort the offense they will be a good bet for success going forward.
The Buffalo Bills are a bit unlucky being in such a strong division and they will struggle to win any of their divisional games this year. They found it hard to score points in 2009 and have reacted to this by dumping their best two receivers! things are unlikely to improve in 2010 although rookie running back CJ Spiller will add a bit of excitement if he gets the ball. Overall the Bills have no receiving corp a glaring gap at QB and a poor offensive line so don’t expect any excitement from them in 2010. Defensively they look much better however having a solid crew in the back field and looking ok on the line. Expect lots of low scoring games in Buffalo this season. They will finish bottom and might not match last seasons 6-10 record.
Overall we expect the Jets to win the division but it might be on conference record as they could end up tying with the Patriots at around 11-5.
Predicted Finishing Order:
1 New York Jets*
2 New England Patriots*
3 Miami Dolphins
4 Buffalo Bills
* we expect the same win loss record.