Any so-called analyst or prognosticator of results for the 2009 NFL season who does NOT select the New England Patriots as the favorites to the win the AFC East should lose his or her job immediately.
While other divisions across the league seem to have more questions than answers, the AFC East subscribes to the good old-fashioned KISS method:
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
The Patriots have the best, most experienced head coach in the division. They have the best, most experienced quarterback in the division. They have the most dynamic wide recievers, the most experienced offensive line, and, oh yeah, THE BEST COACH IN THE NFL.
No other team can come close to matching the weapons New England has on offense. On defense, the Jets, Dolphins and Bills can compare, sometimes even favorably, but not enough to overcome the gap in talent on offense.
Despite winning the AFC East title a year ago, the Dolphins aren't sneaking up on anybody this season. Their overall schedule is tougher, with Miami having to play the AFC's division winners from a year ago, as well as the NFC South, much tougher than the NFC West.
Also, two of the key players in the Dolphins emergence, Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown, managed to play through an entire season without injury. Given their past history of not being able to stay on the field, how likely is that to happen again and how prepared is Miami to handle it?
Over the course of last season, the argument could be made that the Jets were the most talented team in the division, and it certainly looked that way at times. Unfortunately, New York's big changes have to do with the two most important positions in football: the head coach and the quarterback.
With all due respect to Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, rookie quarterbacks hardly ever really succeed, let alone make the playoffs. Mark Sanchez will have a solid run game to lean on with Thomas Jones and Leon Washington—but unlike Flacco and Ryan, Sanchez only started one full year in college and may have a bit more trouble making the transition.
Rex Ryan certainly has brought a new brand of attitude to New York, along with some of his favorite defensive players. All signs point to the Jets defense as one of the league's elite once again. Health is again a question because one of the keys to that defense is Kris Jenkins, another player who's notorious for his inability to stay on the field.
If anyone has any delusions that the Bills are anywhere close to competing for the AFC East crown, they need to stop now. Dick Jauron should've been fired after the team went into the tank following a 4-0 start in 2008. The big new addition is Terrell Owens, a wide receiver who's more reputed for his mouth than his skills as of late.
The problems don't end there. Their best running back, Marshawn Lynch, is suspended for the first few weeks. The offensive line is patchwork and is going to be severely tested with the incorporation of a no-huddle offense, who's coordinator was fired this past week.
Add all that up and no team seems fully prepared to challenge the Patriots for the AFC East this year.
The Jets have promise, but need to grow up fast. The Dolphins got all the breaks a year ago and likely won't get them again. The Bills just fall flat in nearly all aspects in comparison not just to New England, but to the other two teams as well.