"The Jets didn’t even win the division and now they’re all talking about how [the AFC East] goes through New England. That’s what gets me bothered. I don’t care about the other stuff, but don’t say the division goes through New England. It goes through Miami."
-Miami Dolphins' linebacker Channing Crowder to The Miami Herald on June 10, '09
Memo to Channing Crowder: The AFC East does go through New England.
In case he hasn't paid attention, or as Roger Clemens would say "misremembered", the New England Patriots have won the division six of the past eight seasons.
The Dolphins had been irrelevant in the division since 2001 when they were 11-5 and finished second. The season before that was their last division championship.
And let's be honest, while they were 11-5 last season, they were just 2-5 against teams with a winning record. That includes the opening round playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
As Crowder says, the Jets didn't win the division last season, but he better recognize that if his team is going to have any chance at repeating, they will have to beat the Jets. A team that the Dolphins have played the role of "stepchild" for since 2001 as Gang Green has won 17 of the past 22 matchups.
And it's not like Miami swept the Jets last season. In fact, they haven't swept them since the 2003 season. While the Jets have swept the series in '04, '06, and '07. Furthermore, Crowder gloated that their season-ending victory against the Jets last season kept them out of the playoffs.
The truth is that even if the Jets won that game, they still would've missed out on the postseason due to wins by the Patriots and Ravens that day.
Speaking of the Patriots, they finished with the same 11-5 record as the Dolphins, but lost out on the division due to tiebreakers—and that was without Tom Brady.
With Brady's return, New England is ten times better than last season. Throw a little Bart Scott and Mark Sanchez into a mix that also includes Terrell Owens, and you've got yourself an extremely competitive division.
So, Crowder can go on television and proclaim to his local newspaper that "Miami is the team to beat" in the AFC East and that's fine. Let him walk around with that false sense of confidence, because when the season starts in September he's going to realize he was sadly mistaken.