2010 AFC East Preview: New England Patriots and New York Jets Still on Top?

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2010 AFC East Preview: New England Patriots and New York Jets Still on Top?
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Now that I've previewed the NFC , it's time to move on to the AFC.

The AFC East is comprised of two competitors in the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Then there are Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills.

Rookie QB Mark Sanchez led the surprising Jets to a 9-7 regular season schedule, and then followed that up with two playoff wins, only to lose by two TDs to the eventual conference champion Indianapolis Colts.

The Jets actually went farther than the Patriots in the postseason, as New England was slapped by the Baltimore Ravens, 33-14 in the Patriots' first playoff game.

But what about the Dolphins, and the Bills?

Neither team had horrible seasons, but neither one made it to the playoffs either.

Are they destined to be the stepping stones other for other teams on their paths to glory?

Or will they turn things around in 2010?

Below is a breakdown of each team's 2009 season, their draft picks, and how these picks will help them going into the new season.

 

Buffalo Bills

The Bills ended their 2009 season with a disappointing 6-10 record.

In 2009, Buffalo ranked 30th in total offensive yards with a mere 273.9 yards per game.

The Bills' defense was a little better, coming in at No. 19 with 340.6 yards per game.

Buffalo had the chance to be on the road to fixing these problems, but really wasted their draft picks on nonessential players.

The offense is what really needs help, particularly the offensive line, but the Bills elected to only take two offensive linemen in OTs Ed Wang from Virginia Tech, and Kyle Calloway from Iowa.

With a draft rating averaging four-and-a-half between Wang, and Calloway, it seems as if the Bills' offensive line problems weren't anywhere near being solved, and they wasted two picks.

The defense got a pretty good boost with the picks of DT Torell Troup from Central Florida, and DE Alex Carrington out of Arkansas St.

These two will solidify the interior of the defensive line, and will bolster the 19th ranked defense.

Even though Buffalo frittered away their draft picks, they did get RB C.J. Spiller from Clemson.

Spiller made life difficult for opposing ACC defenses in 2009 as he ran for 1,212 yards, and 12 TDs.

However, like all good running backs, Spiller won't be doing much behind a weak offensive line.

 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins fared a little better than their Bills counterparts, going 7-9 in 2009.

Miami's offense couldn't get much done in 2009, which is why they came in at the No. 17 spot with 337.6 yards per game.

The defense was much worse, ranking 22nd in the league, giving up 349.3 yards per game.

Miami made two solid defensive picks in DT Jared Odrick from Penn St., and DE Koa Misi out of Utah. Both of these players are ranked no lower than sixth, so this gives the Dolphins a strong defensive front.

The Dolphins didn't do much in the way of correcting their offensive woes as they picked one offensive player—OT John Jerry from Mississippi. Even though Jerry has a grade of just over seven, he will be a developmental OT, and even then, he's the lone offensive pick.

 

New England Patriots

The Patriots finished went an unusual 10-6 in 2009.

While they did make the playoffs, they were served a 33-14 beat down by the Baltimore Ravens.

Despite their mediocre record, the Patriots' offense ranked third in the league with 397.3 total yards per game.

New England's defense almost cracked the top 10 in 2009, coming in at 11th in the NFL with 320.2 yards per game.

Having an 11th ranked defense isn't too bad, and the Patriots used their draft picks to fortify their defense, and make it even stronger in 2010.

New England's defense gets a serious boost from CB Devin McCourty from Rutgers, DE Jermaine Cunningham, and LB Brandon Spikes both of whom are former Florida Gators.

There's no doubt these three picks will have the Patriots' defense in the top 10, if not the top five, in 2010.

The Patriots did very well on the offensive side of the ball as well, not that they needed it.

The No. 3 offense in all the land added even more firepower to its ranks with the acquisitions of TEs Rob Gronkowski from Arizona, Aaron Hernandez from Florida, and WR Taylor Price from Ohio.

Watch out AFC East, the Patriots mean business.

 

New York Jets

Ironically, the Jets' record was worse than that of the Patriots but they went further in the playoffs than the Patriots.

New York ended the 2009 regular season at 9-7, but went on to play in three playoff games, including the AFC Championship, falling short to the Colts 30-17.

The Jets' offense struggled immensely in 2009, and their No. 20 ranking reflects such struggles. The offense only produced 321 yards per game.

On the contrary, the Jets' defense was perfect in 2009, earning them the No. 1 spot in the NFL with 252.3 yards per game.

The Jets don't need any help on defense, but added CB Kyle Wilson from Boise St. just for good measure.

New York made wise use of their draft picks, drafting players they really needed. In this case, it was offensive players.

OT Vlad Ducasse from Massachusetts adds further strength to the offensive line, and will pave the way for RB Leon Washington when he returns. New York also added RB Joe McKnight from USC. McKnight will be a valuable weapon for the Jets' running attack as he adds another dimension to the run game.

 

Final Rankings

4. Buffalo Bills: The Bills' horrible decision making during the draft will haunt them in 2010. Look for them to be in the AFC East cellar yet again.

3. Miami Dolphins: Miami had both offensive, and defensive problems in 2009, and chose to make strides in shoring up their defense. Their lack of offensive prospects leaves them out of contention, but their defense will be much better.

2. New England Patriots: The Patriots' 10-6 season was motivation for them to make the most out of their draft picks as possible. They did just that, by adding three solid defensive play makers.

1. New York Jets: This is a tough one. While I think the Jets had a great draft, and will build upon last season's success, the Patriots' strong draft class adds a lot more competition to the division. In the end, I'm taking the Jets to win it all based on their draft.

 

To read more of Jordan's work, click here .

Here are my other divisional previews:

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