Is it too soon to pencil in the New England Patriots as the AFC representative of the next Super Bowl? Yes.
Is it too early to declare the Patriots the AFC East Champions? Probably not.
A season ago, the New England Patriots won 11 games without QB Tom Brady. With Brady in full health, the Patriots are obvious favorites to win the AFC East.
New England is easily the most talented team of this division An offense featuring one of the best offensive lines, a core of weapons at WRs, and an improving group of RBs will dominate the AFC, much less the AFC East.
Youth has been added on defense, and that means quickness and durability. The Pats finished strongly in 2008, going 5-1 in their final six games, including 4-0 on the road.
Notice I didn't mention the Indianapolis Colts. More anlaysis of the Colts will be given in my AFC South preview article.
The AFC East Division is a real challenge as far as predicting which teams will finish second, third, and last.
While the Miami Dolphins had a great bounce back season in 2008, they are “rewarded” with a tough 2009 schedule. Opposing coaches have had an entire offseason to adjust and prepare their defenses for the Wildcat offense.
There is also the question of whether Chad Pennington will repeat his fine performance of last year. The way they play defense and pound the ball on the ground, I like their chances of finishing 9-7 or 10-6.
The Buffalo Bills have the talent to finish second in the AFC East and to compete for a wildcard playoff position; however, their mediocre coaching annually interferes with potential success on the field.
The Bills have a reliable rushing attack, and I expect Terrell Owens to play well until the bitter cold and wind of winter settles in. Buffalo has a solid core of WRs.
Their defense is good enough to keep the offense in the game, but it seems that the Bills tend to snag defeat from the jaws of victory, especially in games they need to win the most. The Bills look like an 8-8 or 9-7 team.
The Jets, on the other hand, appear to me as a 7-9 or 6-10 type of team. Rex Ryan will change the New York Jets into the Baltimore Ravens of the AFC East—that means a fun-to-watch, dominating 3-4 defense and a conservative, limited offense.
However, with their solid offensive line and decent cast of skills players, I expect rookie QB Mark Sanchez to start and have a better season than the Detroit Lions rookie QB, Matthew Stafford. It’s interesting that these two first-round draftees have become friends and support one another.
In summary, the AFC East belongs to the Patriots, as long as Tom Brady stays healthy. The Dolphins, Bills, and Jets are solid teams who at times will be fun to watch, but are nowhere near the elite levels of New England and Pittsburgh.
Quote of the Day:
A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently.
--Saint Augustine of Hippo