2009 NFL Preview and Prediction: AFC East

Bryan FlynnAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2009

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 28:  Tom Brady #12 and Randy Moss #81 of the New England Patriots celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 28, 2009 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The NFL season is fast approaching with the first kickoff Sept. 10. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the defending champions.

Before you start thinking repeat in Steelers land, remember there have only been seven repeat champions. The Steelers have the players to repeat and can certainly win it all again.

The problem is, no matter if you are an NFC supporter or an AFC supporter, the Steelers play in the tougher conference.

The Steelers will have to get past the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, and the New England Patriots. The Steelers will be well tested before they make it to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.

Now let’s try to break every team down and see who will challenge the Steelers for their Super Bowl Crown. Starting with the AFC East and moving though the AFC in each post.

This time we will look at teams in order of finish.

New England Patriots: Prediction 12-4

The Patriots hope to turn the calendar back to 2007, when they rode roughshod over the NFL and went perfect until the Super Bowl. That was before the first game of 2008, when quarterback Tom Brady went down for the season.

As long as the offence can return to a close resemblance to the 2007 offense New England will be fine. The biggest question for this team is how Tom Brady plays after the injury.

The retirement of Tedy Bruschi and the trade of Richard Seymour and other players will leave some holes in the defense that will have to be replaced. The Patriots are moving to a younger defense.

New England’s defense has been spotty during the pre-season but should come together. The first four games of the season are very winnable, so the Patriots can get off to a fast start.

New England has one of the best coaches in the NFL. Head coach Bill Belichick always has his team ready to play and a good game plan.

The schedule looks nice for the Patriots. They get three of the first four games at home, and the rest of the season does not look too bad.

New England opens up at home against the Bills who have fired their offensive coordinator and Terrell Owens has not even started up yet. The Patriots go to the Jets in week 2 and a rookie quarterback in his second game.

The next two games are against two playoff teams from last year. The Falcons and the Ravens will be a good early-season test for the Patriots.

There is no question that the Patriots could be 4-0 or 3-1 in their first quarter of the season. The next stretch of four games is all winnable.

The first road game of the year is against Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos. Denver could be down this year after all the off-season drama.

The Patriots return home to play the Titans, another playoff team from last season. New England heads across the pond for a game in England against Tampa Bay.

New England gets a bye week next, then the Dolphins at home. The Patriots could be 8-0 to 6-2 half way through the season.

The next four games feature road tests against the Colts, Saints, and Miami. All three very good teams from last season and the two of the three made the playoffs.

A home game with the Jets is sandwiched between the New Orleans and Indianapolis. Three quarters into the season, the Patriots could be in very good shape heading into the final four games of the season.

The final four games have only one divisional game against the Bills on the road. There are two home games against the Jaguars and Panthers.

The last game of the season is against a very much improved Houston Texans team on the road.

The Patriots seem to get all the really tough games at home. New England is playing the Falcons, Ravens, Titans, Panthers, and Jaguars all at home.

These games are winnable with the home field advantage, especially the late season games against Carolina and Jacksonville.

Road games against the Colts, Saints, and Texans will test the Patriots but can be won.

As far as the division goes, the Dolphins should be the second-best team in this division with the Jets starting a rookie at quarterback and the drama in Buffalo.

As long as New England has Belichick, Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and a decent defense, it is hard to go against the Patriots. The Patriots want to prove they are still the best in the division after losing it to Miami last season.

After missing the playoffs last season and winning 11 games without Brady, a division title and 12 to 13 wins should not be a problem.

Miami Dolphins: Prediction 8-8

It’s year two under head coach Tony Sparano and the wildcat with high expectations in Miami. The Dolphins made a 10-win jump from 2007 to 2008.

Some of the credit has to go to a weak schedule, the Patriots without Tom Brady and the introduction of the wildcat. This is a very solid Miami team, but how well will they do against a much tougher schedule this season?

The Dolphins will run the ball and will use Chad Pennington to do what he does best accurate passes and little to no mistakes in the passing game. Then relay on a good defense to win ball games. Much like the teams Bill Parcels built in New York.

Miami did not have any huge key losses this season except maybe Vonnie Holliday. The Dolphins re-signed Jason Taylor, and Pat White could see some time running the wildcat.

The brutal schedule could be the downfall for the Dolphins this season. Out of the division schedule, only one team (Jacksonville) finished 2008 with a sub-.500 record. The schedule also has six playoff teams from 2008.

The Dolphins first four games are against three playoff teams from last season. Miami opens on the road against the Falcons.

The next game is at home vs. the Colts and another away game against the Chargers. The last of the first four games is a home game against the Bills.

The Dolphins could be 2-2 or 1-3 one quarter into the season. Miami does not get any breaks in the schedule, so a fast start is a must.

The next four games include three with divisional implications. Miami gets the Jets at home then away, with a bye week and home game with the Saints in between the New York games.

The biggest game in the second quarter stretch will be a road game against the Patriots. After burning New England last season with the wildcat and taking the division from them this could be a statement game by either team.

The Dolphins could be 4-4 halfway through the season. The third quarter of the season has two games against the NFC South: against Tampa Bay on the road and Carolina at home.

Miami plays its last two divisional games in the final two games of the third quarter of the season. The Dolphins play the Bills at away and the Patriots at home.

Miami has what has to be one of the toughest four games to end the season in the NFL. The Dolphins play three AFC South teams at home against the Jaguars, and the Titans.

The last two games for the Dolphins are at home against the Texans and defending champion Steelers.

The Dolphins will be a very good team in 2009 but the schedule will be tough. An 8-8 record should not be too hard to reach.

The Patriots should be healthy and Miami will not catch anyone off guard with the wild cat this season.

New York Jets: Prediction 7-9

The Jets have spent the off-season making noise from new head coach Rex Ryan, who is a sound bite a minute, and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez out of USC. The Brett Favre and Eric Mangini era is over after one season.

Two key departures for the Jets are wide receiver Laveranues Coles and kicker Mike Nugent. The Jets did add Bart Scott at linebacker in the free agent signing period.

Ryan named Sanchez the starter for the season after an impressive preseason. Typically, rookies do not do well in their first NFL season, but after Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco played well last season it’s worth the risk.

The opening schedule is rough. The Jets start out on the road against an improved Texans team. They next play at home against the Patriots after an off-season of Rex Ryan yapping about Belichick.

Then the Jets get another home game against the Titans and on to the road against the Saints. The Jets could start the season 1-3 or 0-4.

The next quarter of the season is much easier but not at the start with a road game versus Miami. The Jets then get a very winnable game against the Bills.

The Jets have trip to Oakland to play the dysfunctional Raiders and a home game against the Dolphins. Heading in to the bye week the Jets could turn things around and be 4-4 or 3-5 half way through the season.

The second half of the season could give Jets fans a peak in the future of year two under Sanchez. The third quarter of the season starts at home against two warm weather teams.

The Jets get both Jacksonville and Carolina at home in mid to late November and the New York weather could help the Jets. Sandwiched between the Jaguars and Panthers game is a road trip to New England.

The third quarter of the season ends on the road against the Bills. The Jets could be a .500 team heading in to the final quarters of the season.

The last four games are tricky. The Jets go on the road to play Tampa Bay in the warmer Florida weather.

Then the Falcons leave the dome to play in the cold of New York. The Jets have to travel to a dome to play the Colts.

The last game of the season is winnable against the Bengals. The Jets could be as good as 7-9 with a rookie quarterback.

The Jets might only win 4 to 5 games but the defense is good and the Jets have a running game to take the pressure off Sanchez.

The 2010 season could be huge for the Jets depending on how well Sanchez progresses this season.

Buffalo Bills: Prediction 4-12

The Bills made a big splash early in the off-season by signing Terrell Owens and late in the off-season by firing their offensive coordinator. The other big news was a trade of tackle Jason Peters to the Eagles.

Buffalo was a very close to turning in a winning season since the team finished over .500 in 2004. Trent Edwards is the quarterback, since the Bills did not re-sign P.J. Losman.

The Bills head coach Dick Jauron will be on the hot seat after the firing of the offensive coordinator. Terrell Owens is normally a good teammate his first season at a new home but can turn quickly on his fellow players and coaches.

Buffalo’s starting offense did not score a touchdown the entire preseason. Things could go wrong quickly for the Bills in 2009.

The Bills open their season on the road against the Patriots in Tom Brady’s return after an injury ended his 2008 season. Buffalo’s second game will be at home against Tampa Bay in a show down between two teams that have fired their offensive coordinators.

Buffalo gets to stay at home to play the very offensive-minded Saints. The Bills then travel to the 2008 divisional champion Dolphins.

The Bills could be 1-3 after a quarter of the season is done. With no off-season to work with a new offensive coordinator, Buffalo could struggle early.

The Bills start the second quarter of the season at home vs. the Browns a winnable game. Next up for Buffalo is a trip to New York to play the Jets.

Buffalo stays on the road next, traveling to the Carolinas to play the Panthers, followed by what could be an upset at home against the Texans.

As Buffalo enters the halfway mark of the season, they could be as bad as 2-6 and at best 3-5. If the start is as bad as 2-6 record look for Owens will wreck this team in the second half of the season.

Buffalo comes back from the bye week to play against the Titans in Nashville and stays on the road the next week to play the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Both games will be hard for the Bills to win on the road.

The Bills get to stay at home the next two weeks, playing the Dolphins and the Jets to round out the third quarter of the season.

The Bills get to complete the round-robin tournament for teams who fired offensive coordinators in the pre-season. At the start of the fourth quarter of the season the Bills play on the road vs. the Chiefs.

Buffalo finishes up the season playing the Patriots and Colts at home with an away game against the Falcons in between. The Bills should beat the Chiefs but more than likely lose the last three.

The good thing for the Bills is that they will not have a fourth straight 7-9 season. Everything is in place for the wheels to come off quickly for Buffalo.

The Bills will not make the playoffs and will finish last in the division. Things could be better with the Jets starting a rookie at quarterback, but with the firing of their offensive coordinator and adding Owens. Do not count on it.

Buffalo will be looking for a new coach after Jauron and the Bills go 4-12.

The Dolphins will get tripped up by their schedule and not being able to sneak up on anyone. The Jets will struggle with a rookie quarterback but by the end of the year hopes will be high.

The Bills will fall apart with no offensive cohesion. The firing of Turk Schonert and if he is ever healthy, the volatility of Terrell Owens will sink Buffalo.

The Patriots will be the favorite to win the AFC East with the return of Tom Brady, while the defense will be younger it will make mistakes.

New England is one of the best-run franchises in the NFL, and they will pull this team together and return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Patriots are just too good to bet against.


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