AFC East Preview: The Best Division In The NFL
Since 2001, there hasn't been a division in the NFL comparable to the AFC East.
The four teams who compete regularly in this division are among the toughest and most polished teams in the league.
The most prestigious member of the division is without a doubt the New England Patriots.
With three Super Bowl wins in four years, they are the best team of the decade.
They were defense-heavy for many years until Robert Kraft obtained the great Randy Moss. Tom Brady then had the best single-season for a quarterback in NFL history in 2007, throwing for 50 touchdowns and breaking Peyton Manning's previous record of 49.
In 2009, look for the Patriots to be back to their high scoring ways with Brady's return and the addition of Fred Taylor. Stopping this offense will be tough. The defense has aged, but Bill Belichick and Co. are working to fix that with Jerod Mayo and Adalius Thomas.
Predicted Finish: 11-5, First in Division
The New York Jets are the team of the moment in this division.
Mark Sanchez arrives as a franchise quarterback for the Jets that the Big Apple hasn't seen since Broadway Joe Namath (but that's what we said about Richard Todd and Ken O'Brien).
Thomas Jones was the leading AFC rusher last season, and the offensive line has done nothing but get better this offseason.
However, on defense, there are a lot of new faces—Bart Scott being the most recognizable. He brings the aggressive mentality the Jets have been missing. The addition of Lito Sheppard will definitely help boost the 26th rated pass defense. Look for Kris Jenkins to have a huge year.
The only hole on this team is that there is no deep threat for Sanchez. The loss of Laveraneus Coles was a tough. Jericho Cotchery is a good receiver, but he lacks the acceleration to beat the prime corner-backs of the league down field. There have been whispers of a trade that bring Braylon Edwards to the Jets, but we'll see.
Predicted Finish: 10-6, Second in Division and Wild Card
The Buffalo Bills are the biggest toss-up in the division.
With the loss of Jason Peters and the addition of T.O., has this team become supercharged or defunct?
Owens typically has become a distraction if he doesn't get the ball enough. Lee Evans is a speedy receiver who has good hands and has no durability issues. Evans will almost certainly be the primary target for Trent Edwards.
The Bills are definitly a team on the rise. Edwards has proven he is a starter in the league, and Marshawn Lynch is a tough downhill runner.
Look for this team to be the AFC's surprise No. 6 playoff seed.
Predicted Finish: 10-6, Third in Division and Wild Card
Last year's division champs, the Miami Dolphins have risen from the grave.
Going 1-15 in 2007 was plenty of incentive to come back and start winning again. With two Super Bowl victories in their past, the Dolphins know what it's like to win the big game.
With Tony Sparano and Co. creating the "Wildcat" formation, Miami is a formidable opponent. Chad Pennington is the undisputed leader of this team, and with a young defense, Miami is certainly going to have some fireworks.
However, the NFL is now wise to the "Wildcat" and the lack of true veteran experience (outside of Joey Porter and Pennington) could create problems toward the end of the season.
Predicted Finish: 9-7, Fourth in Division
Yes, the AFC East should have both of the AFC wild card spots.
And why not? These are four of the best teams in the NFL, and they aren't going anywhere but up.
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