2017 AFC East Preview

1. New England Patriots– When you see how they simply go about business, you just sit here and ask yourself this one question: How in the world do they continue to do it? We all know how it all transpired last season. Brady is suspended for the first four games and the Patriots win three of those four. Brady comes back and in the 12 games he played, the Patriots go 11-1 and finish the season with a record of 14-2. They cruise through the AFC Playoffs and get to their seventh Super Bowl under Belichick. Down 28-3, the Patriots fight back and win the Super Bowl in overtime and with the win not only did they win their second Super Bowl title in three seasons and fifth in 16 years, Tom Brady established himself as the greatest quarterback of all time winning his fifth Super Bowl title, the most by a quarterback ever. They are the favorites to repeat as champions once again and this was the most active I’ve seen a Super Bowl champion active in the off-season. They signed Stephon Gilmore, acquired Kony Ealy from the Panthers in a trade, acquired Dwayne Allen from the Colts to give the offense that additional tight end and the biggest move was the team trading with the New Orleans Saints to acquire Brandin Cooks and the Patriots have their first true number one wide receiver since Randy Moss. We could be in for a really fun season in Foxborough.

2. Miami Dolphins– After a slow start last season, the Dolphins picked it up and went on a very impressive winning streak and made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Ryan Tannehill really took a big step forward after Adam Gase was hired as head coach. The biggest surprise was the emergence of running back Jay Ajayi who finished the season with 1,272 yards rushing. We also saw Jarvis Landry develop into more of the team’s number one receiver. The Dolphins defense was up and down at times last year. There were certain periods of time when they looked lights out and then, there were times when they struggled to get off the field. Heading into year two of the Adam Gase era, the Dolphins are looking to get back to the playoffs once again after winning ten games in 2016. The team re-signed defensive end Cameron Wake to a two-year deal, Suh is still there and they extended linebacker Kiko Alonzo’s contract.

3. Buffalo Bills– Just when we think this team can get over the hump and make something happen, they struggle and they are still the same Buffalo Bills. Rex Ryan was fired and the Buffalo Bills decided to hire former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as the new head coach. I’ve really enjoyed watching Tyrod Taylor and his growth at quarterback. At one point, he was their third-string quarterback and in just two years, he’s become their top passer recording 37 passing touchdowns to just 14 interceptions and posting passer ratings of 99.4 and 89.7 to go along with 10 rushing touchdowns. LeSean McCoy is still one of the best backs in the business and he will continue to get his carries. The biggest concern is the wide receiver position. Sammy Watkins struggles to stay healthy and the team as a whole took a big hit after losing some guys. The defense will be transitioning to a 4-3 look hoping to put emphasis on stopping the run. It’s a new year with yet another head coach in Orchard Park.

4. New York Jets– In 2015, they were 10-6 and missed the playoffs and they were a shoe-in to make it. 2016, they just couldn’t get anything going and they finished with a 5-11 mark in Todd Bowles’ sophomore year as head coach. The biggest problem with the Jets was their lack of explosiveness on offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall are both gone and Matt Forte has been limited in OTA’s with a knee injury. The Jets signed Josh McCown in free agency and in the draft, they selected Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett, Alabama wide receiver ArDarius Stewart. The defense will have to be the backbone of this team once again and they will look to improve after regressing in 2016. They decided to part ways with Darrelle Revis but found a way to bolster their secondary with the selection of safety Jamal Adams from LSU. The Jets struggled to stop the run and rush the passer and that’s crazy to type because of the talent they have up front with Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams. It’s safe to say that the Jets are in full rebuild mode right now.

2017 Predictions

1. Patriots (14-2)
2. Dolphins (9-7)
3. Bills (4-12)
4. Jets (3-13)

Once again, the New England Patriots will be victorious and win the AFC East for the fifteenth time in the Bill Belichick era. I see a lot of similarities with the 2007 team that made history and became the first team to complete a perfect 16-0 record. They have that true number one receiver in Cooks and with the way this offense is set up, they will get theirs and get it with ease. Brady will start the season this time around, after losing LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots replaced him with Mike Gillislee and after losing Logan Ryan, they replaced him with an upgrade of itself in Stephon Gilmore. I can see the tandem of Gilmore and Malcolm Butler becoming the top cornerback duo in the NFL. They may lose guys here and there in free agency, but they have a way of regaining what they lost. This is hands down the favorite to get back to the AFC Championship game and possibly win the whole thing.