Not sure how the rest of you feel, but I am full of excitement and have had September 14 marked on my calendar for a long time. For those unaware, it is opening night for the Patriots as well as the soon to be basement dweller Buffalo Bills.
Tom "Terrific" Brady is healthy which is only good things for Randy Moss and Wes Welker and absolutely terrifying for opposing defenses. A 90 percen healthy Tom Brady is still a top 10 quarterback and boy does he have his share of weapons.
Besides the two mentioned above, he has Joey Galloway, who may still have a few "go routs" left in the tank. If Galloway can become a valuable third option, question becomes, who do you cover?
Do you cover Moss going deep? Do you cover Welker over the middle? Do you cover Galloway also going deep? What about Ben Watson? Hopefully he who was on the verge of being cut will keep a little fire burning under him and become a red zone target.
Looking at the division, I can honestly say that I am not very scared. Last year I didn't think the Miami Dolphins were going to win the division but then again, I didn't think Matt Cassel was going to be the starting QB.
Don't get me wrong, the Jets have a very good running game and a above average D, however Mark Sanchez is NOT a Matt Ryan/Joe Flacco remake. He only started one year at USC and is going to struggle with the speed of the game and checking all his reads.
I DO believe Sanchez will be a good quarterback but it's not going to be this year. It is really too to bad for the Jets figuring since after 11 games a year ago, they were 8-3 and were looking like a force in the AFC. Then Brett Favre choked and the rest as they say is history.
I see the Jets going 9-7 based on how their defense plays and how Thomas Jones and Leon Washington running the ball.
The Jets will surely miss Laveranues Coles at wide out and will pray that someone out of the David Clowney, Chansi Stuckey, Wallace Wright mix will develop into a solid target. I like Dustin Keller at TE and he should be a safety blanket when Sanchez learns everyone outside of Jericho Cotchery will not be able to get open.
Lastly, I really really like the trade of Lito Sheppard. Sheppard, along with third year pro Darrelle Revis, makes them a top five pair of CB in all of football.
Last year in South Florida must have been very promising and very fun. Ronny Brown was healthy, Ricky stopped smoking pot (that we know of), Chad Pennington showed that you can win with a noodle arm, and Joey Porter led an inspired and well played defense from a 1-15 record in 2007 to an 11-5 record, and the AFC East crown.
This year, also some exciting news coming to the Dolphins. Legend and fan favorite Jason Taylor is back from a year in DC and "Dancing With The Stars", Pat White was drafted to make the WildCat offense even more dangerous and to be an exciting playmaker, and Ricky is still apparently not smoking pot.
All in all, I like the Dolphins I just don't feel as though they are ready. They have the right coach for that team in Tony Sparano. They have a very good talent in Ted Ginn Jr. and good defensive backs in Gibril Wilson and Will Allen. The loss of Vonnie Holliday will hurt as he was one of their leaders in sacks and an overall locker room guy and defensive captain.
I see the 'Fins finishing with a disappointing 6-10 record.
The fourth and final team the Pats must play twice is the Buffalo Bills. This team is in pure shambles. Let the record show, Dick Jauron might be the worst coach or at least the most overrated coach in football. He is in the Norv Turner category. Guy had one winning season and because of this and the fact he is an above average coordinator, automatically give him a head coaching job every five years it seems.
Anyways, Buffalo seemed like it was moving in the right direction with a 7-9 record in 2008, the Bills saw Trent Edwards grow and develop right in front of their eyes. Along with Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, and explosive wide receiver Lee Evans had very good years and FINALLY the Bills had a formidable offense.
Problems with the offensive line and inconsistent play from Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish turned what was a promising offense into one that just showed flashes of brilliancy.
Even though Buffalo signed T.O., he is not going to make them any better, which is really a shame. The Bills fired their offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and the reason he gave is because Jauron said Schonert's offense was too too tough to learn and that Jauron likes and wants a "pop warner" type of play.
If this is the case, Buffalo is going no where until Jauron gets his pink slip which I think he will regardless of how he does this season. I see the Bills finishing at 4-12, a T.O. comedy type meltdown on the sidelines and a complete staff overhaul in the the offseason. Might as well throw in a snow storm in October to make this a truly awful season.
Where Buffalo can give the Pats problems is with their speed on offense. No one is going to catch Lee Evans. Buffalo with their tough defensive line of Marcus Stroud and Aaron Schobel and Aaron Maybin could push the likes of Matt Light and Logan Mankins to the ground and have them sucking wind with their power and speed (for Maying anyways).
The Patriots should run away with this division and easily win 13 games. Another undefeated season is not out of reach, especially with this weak division schedule. Going to Buffalo in mid December could be a little tough, especially if the Gaile winds are coming and possibly the Sunday Night game on Dec. 6 in Miami.
The Pats always struggle there even when they win, and last time the Pats played there for a night game, they got smoked.
The team of the decade will add yet another piece of hardware to their collection with the AFC East crown and who knows, maybe the Vince Lombardi trophy as well.