2018 AFC East Preview

1. New England Patriots– Another year with the same results. They win 13 games, clinch the division yet again and wrapped up home-field advantage in the AFC once again along with another first-round bye. You almost expect this from them and it happens. 2017 got off to a rocky start. They were stunned in their first game of the season and found themselves at 2-2 in their first four games. In typical Patriot fashion, they win eight in a row and everything just took off from there. Even without Julian Edelman, the offense was still able to score points and that will happen especially when you have Tom Brady as your quarterback and he was named the league’s MVP for the third time in his career adding to his resume of accomplishments and he became the oldest player ever to win the award at 40. The defense will have a different identity this year. Matt Patricia left to become a head coach and they lost Malcolm Butler to free agency. Until Bill and Brady are both gone, this is still the Patriots division.

2. Buffalo Bills– For the first time since 1998, the Bills were playing postseason football and it came completely out of left field. It was definitely a shaky year at times when Sean McDermott decided to bench Tyrod Taylor, the guy who had them in contention for the playoffs throughout the year for Nathan Peterman. Let me put it to you like this: If Tyrod doesn’t play last year, the Bills don’t see January Football. We also saw LeSean McCoy return back to the guy we knew him to be back in Philadelphia. Tyrod has been traded to Cleveland and the Bills signed former Bengals quarterback to a free-agent contract and in April, they traded up and drafted Josh Allen from Wyoming hoping he’s their quarterback of the future. The defense will still be a strength under McDermott along with a consistent running game until their passing game can get comfortable.

3. Miami Dolphins– After making the playoffs in 2016, the Dolphins failed to qualify for the postseason the following year in 2017 and Ryan Tannehill was out with a knee injury. They were active this off-season. We saw them first use the franchise tag on Jarvis Landry and they eventually end up trading him to the Browns and to replace him, they signed Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola, a solid signing and he’s a guy that knows the division well after playing for the Patriots the last five seasons. The team decided to release Mike Pouncey and Ndamukong Suh. I was impressed with their a few of their draft picks. They selected Minkah Fitzpatrick out of Alabama and Mike Gesicki, the towering tight end from Penn State. Under Adam Gase, Tannehill put together the best season of his career in 2016, can he return to that again? Only time will tell.

4. New York Jets– Heading into the 2017 season, some of the experts said they’d be the worst team in the NFL and they wouldn’t stand a chance at winning anything this year. They had a down year with a record of 5-11, but they played a lot better than people anticipated them to play. When you look at the Jets roster especially on offense, they really don’t have a guy that wows you on that side of the football. Robbie Anderson had a great year, but can that carry over to this season? The Jets held the third pick in the 2018 NFL Draft this year and drafted the guy they were linked to since last fall and that was Sam Darnold out of USC. On the defensive side, they added Trumaine Johnson from the Los Angeles Rams. This is still a team that’s in rebuild mode and I feel they are a few years away from really making some noise once again.

2018 Predictions

1. Patriots (12-4)
2. Dolphins (8-8)
3. Bills (7-9)
4. Jets (5-11)

Did you expect me to predict anything different here? For the sixteenth time under Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots will win the AFC East. This team will receive a boost from two players on both sides of the football who were out with injuries last year. Julian Edelman will be back after tearing his ACL in the preseason last Summer and I’ve stated that he’s just as important as Gronk is to that offense and on defense, Dont’a Hightower will also return. They enter the year once again as the defending AFC champions and they will look to get back to the Super Bowl for the ninth time in the Belichick era and the third year in a row. There are many things we can count on to happen each year and the Patriots winning their division is one of them.