I think the Miami Dolphins (2008 AFC East Champs) and the New England Patriots (2007 AFC East Champs) built their teams in the offseason for the upcoming quest to be AFC East Champ for the 2009 NFL season.
The battle lines have been drawn and both teams have added players on both sides.
Key additions to the New England Patriots include recently signed LB Paris Lenon, WR Greg Lewis, WR Joey Galloway, CB Shawn Springs, CB Leigh Bodden, RB Fred Taylor (who is not done and is a perfect complement to Lawrence Maroney), WR Brandon Tate (rookie), DB Darius Butler (rookie), S Brandon McGowan, and TE Chris Baker (formerly of the NY Jets).
Sounds to me like the the Patriots are on the attack for an offensive and defensive beatdown of the AFC East. They have trimmed the fat (getting rid of older players) and adding younger, speedier and coachable players. Coach Belichick is not taking any chances on being surprised or underestimating the Dolphins once again.
QB Tom Brady is back and is thirsty after missing the entire 2008 season and watching Matt Cassel lead the team and then be traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Expanding the offense with veterans receivers and running backs will make the Patriots very hard to stop.
The depth chart is stacking up in New England's favor, which means they have learned from the injury issues that have slowed them down in the past. The new defensive backfield should gel in enough time to cover every aspect of the Dolphins by Nov. 8's first showdown in Foxboro, Mass.
In a contrast of style and tone, but keeping up with the Patriots' changes, the Miami Dolphins have welcomed back Jason Taylor (who was actually courted by Pats' owner Bob Kraft) and added young pieces to a defensive secondary that will be severely tested by the offenses of the AFC East.
Coach Sparano has focused his Dolphin team on toughness in offseason OTA's (Organized Team Activities).
Ushering in rookies like Vontae Davis, Chris Clemons, Sean Smith and veteran Eric Green into the schemes that will try to slow down the Patriot receivers, the Dolphins are confident the season's schedule will force the defense to be excellent quickly.
Having little known but effective Yeremiah Bell back again at safety should stabilize any fears of Dolphin doubters.
Pat White was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round out of West Virginia.
White is certainly an "X factor", so the Dolphins will add some new wrinkles to "The Wildcat," which worked well against most defenses last year.
QB Chad Pennington is the general who will lead the team again in 2009 and read the Patriot defense with their new changes.
His knowledge and veteran leadership in the AFC East cannot be questioned after last year's crafty display in the last game of the season, a 24-17 victory in New York.
The most important glaring weakness in the Dolphin offense is the wide receiver position.
Greg Camarillo will be back after injury along with Ted Ginn, Jr and Davone Bess. Dolphin rookies Patrick Turner, Brian Hartline, Brennan Marion and veterans Anthony Armstrong, Todd Lowber and Brandon London will compete for time on the field, spots in the lineup and a plunge into the hearts of Dol-fans everywhere.
Pennington must work very hard to get the passing game up to speed quickly to balance the powerful running attack and give the Dolphins a chance to win every game.
Ball control was highly effective for the Miami Dolphins' offense last year as well as coming up with the Big Play at the right time.
The Dolphins will need to do it again to capture the 2009 AFC East title.
Line play of both teams is strong and it just depends on turnovers and field position how the score will turn out.
For sure, the two games these teams play against each other in November and December will be battles with hopes of going to the Super Bowl.