1. Miami Dolphins—13-14 Ws
2. NY Jets—10-12 Ws (wildcard)
3. NE Patriots—7-10 Ws
4. Buffalo Bills—1-2Ws
Could the Dolphins really surpass the Jets as No. One in the AFC East? I believe they can primarily because of better QB play.
Henne really impressed me in his first full year as a starter and with the combination of Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall at receiver, the Phins now have the requisite playmakers.
They have a good blocking TE in Anthony Fasano and a great offensive line. Long and Carey are bookend OTs while Grove is a pro bowl C. Smiley is adequate and Berger showed great promise in limited playing time.
At RB the injury to Ronnie Brown is an issue, but the line is good enough to create holes for Williams or Hilliard if they happen to be in the backfield.
The biggest addition the Dolphins made this year on D was the addition of coordinator Mike Nolan. How the Phins were able to get him I'm not sure but while he isn't a great HC and is a genius as a DC.
The Phins have a ridiculous group of Parcells, Sparano and Nolan as their football minds. At DE the rotation of Starks, Langford and Merling is incredibly solid (plus they added Odrick via the draft) and Soliai can be solid at NT until Ferguson returns from his suspension.
Cameron Wake was a beast of an OLB when rushing the passer and the addition of Misi should help with that, too. Miami's biggest problem last year was poor play at ILB but they added Dansby to help cure that issue. They still need a second guy though.
At CB Davis and Smith were very solid in year one and should improve with more experience. Bell is entrenched at one of the S spots but they need another guy (potentially Darren Sharper.)
The Jets are incredibly similar to the Dolphins. They have a dominant O-line with D'Brick and Woody at OT as well as the best C in the league in Nick Mangold. They have a very good OG in one spot with Moore but they also need Vlad Ducasse to play in year one to replace the released Alan Faneca.
At WR they have one of the most underrated players in the NFL in Jerricho Cotchery but Braylon Edwards' inconsistent hands may end up hurting the Jets.
They will have Santonio Holmes coming out the slot (after week four)—that is, if he's not suspended again.
Shonn Greene showed great potential as a rookie but will need to be spelled by McKnight to be truly effective as a grinding runner.
Rex Ryan also finds a way to make average players look great. The Jets are set at DT with Pouha and Green.
They also have a dominant DE in Calvin Pace but he is beginning to age and they have no one else across from him. Ellis and Jenkins are ageing and could be replaced. At LB the Jets have a solid group in Harris, Scott and Thomas who provide veteran leadership and dominant run defence.
Finally on the back end the Jets have the best CB in the game in Darelle Revis but Antonio Cromartie refuses to tackle and isn't the best cover guy. Kyle Wilson may be able to contribute as a rookie but we'll see. Jim Leonhard is a nice S but the Jets need another guy and oft injured Brodney Pool is unlikely to be that guy.
On the balance of things the Phins will win out because of better pass rush and QB play.
The Patriots are a difficult team to predict. They will need a strong contribution from second year players to make a push for the division or a wildcard place.
On the offensive side Mankins and Neal combine for two of the better OGs in the game having bounced back from an average 08 and there is solid play from the rest of the line.
Vollmer is one to look out for in 2010. He was one of the few players to tie a matchup with Dwight Freeney allowing just one hit and three pressures.
The TEs were improved with Gronkowski via the draft, but his back is still an issue as is Welker's leg. Moss isn't what he once was so the Pats will guys like Edelmen and Aiken to step up. Maroney might be on his way out and there is no one else to step up and carry the load.
On Defense the Pats got made some important resignings with NT Vince Wilfork and CB Leigh Bodden. The trade of Seymour leaves a hole at DE however which is still yet to be filled and Ty Warren is continuing to age on the other side.
The Pats biggest problem in 2009 was an inability to get to the QB. Their D line isn't great at it and their OLBs aren't much better. When a 400 year old Banta-Cain is your best guy, you're in trouble.
Cunningham will try to help but how much time he gets on rounds one and two will be interesting considering he's not the best run stuffer. Mayo didn't have his best year at ILB and how well Spikes takes to the speed of the NFL should be interesting.
The Pats have two very solid DBs in Merriweather and Bodden but the other two spots remain question marks. Hopefully McCourty will fill that role but he might be a SCB early in his career and the Pats need second year guy Pat Chung to step up.
Buffalo had a chance to make a big stride this off-season. They made some shrewd acquisitions but didn't capitalize. They could have taken Jimmy Clausen, twice! But they failed to so and will now be limited by poor QB play.
They also could have gone O-line in round one or two but instead took a back to add to a bursting full backfield and reached for a NT.
They needed both of those guys and they may help in the long run but right now who do Buffalo have at OT or QB? Eric Wood showed potential but they have no one else.
At WR Evans is underrated but they lack a number two guy. Shawn Nelson also suffered a season ending injury and was asked to pass block a lot anyway.The Bills seem to want to be a running team but don't have the line to become one.
On D Kyle Williams had a very good year but can he transition to the 3-4?
Maybin will be better suited to OLB but will he produce?
How does Troup do in year one?
All important questions that remain to be answered for me. The Bills might have the top ILB duo in Posluzny and Davis, but there'll be only so much they can do. The safeties Wilson and Byrd are solid and compliment each other well but the CBs are merely average despite the fact there's good depth. Will McKelvin step up to become a starter in year three?