1) New England Patriots
I am almost certain that they are not going to run the table during the regular season; let’s be honest, there is no reason to think that. They lost possibly the best cover corner in the league last season in Asante Samuel, the defense, which was old last season, is just another year older—and the addition of John Lynch did not make them younger—and before I forget, only four other teams in the history of the NFL have gone undefeated for the regular season, and only one of those teams has won the Super Bowl (I know that was not needed, but it is really the only positive I had for the Dolphins 2007 season).
That being said, they are still going to win the division. They still have Bill Belichick. They still have Tom Brady and all of his wide receivers, including Randy Moss, who proved he still may be the best receiver in the NFL.
They still play the Dolphins and Bills for one fourth of the season, and they still are the New England Patriots.
Final record: 13-3
2) New York Jets
Honestly, I probably put them second whether they had Brett Favre or Chad Pennington. They have a good offensive line, which got better with the addition of Alan Faneca. Faneca brings a lot more to the table for the Jets than his physical talent of pushing people around; he comes with a winning attitude from playing in Pittsburgh and a veteran presence on a young offensive line.
Favre has three good receivers in Laveranues Coles (who will stop complaining when the team threatens to stop paying him), Jericho Cotchery, and Justin McCareins. Chris Baker is more than a serviceable receiving tight-end, which Favre loves (for proof, look up Bubba Franks and Donald Lee’s numbers over the past couple of seasons).
Also, Calvin Pace and company on defense makes them even more of a problem for opposing teams.
The Jets have two things standing in their way: One, the New England Patriots, who are still mad at the Jets for that little Spygate thing that happened last season, not to mention the personal rivalry between Belichick and Eric Mangini, and the whole Boston and New York rivalry.
The other thing in the Jets' way is the Jets themselves. Similar to the New York Mets, it seems that every season the Jets have a handful of games where they fall asleep for a play or two and allow the other team to win the game or be in a position to win the game.
Final Record: 10-6
3) Buffalo Bills
With several key defensive additions, points are going to be hard to come by against the Bills, but the offense is still very weak, at least in my opinion. The additions of Marcus Stroud, Paul Posluzny (back from injury), and Kawika Mitchell will help stop the running game, and with Aaron Schobel, Terence McGee, Ko Simpson, and Donte Whitner stopping the passing game, they have a very complete defense.
However, NFL offenses are only as good as the quarterback that leads them, and although Trent Edwards has shown that he can be a competent NFL signal caller, I am not sold on him yet, and if he goes down, J.P. “Loserman,” as Tom Jackson called him, will step in, and the name tells you all you need to know about him.
Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch are big-time playmakers that, if given the opportunities, will excel.
Final Record: 7-9
4) Miami Dolphins
Similar to the Patriots, the Dolphins cannot repeat last season, which will save me from the hangman’s noose. I can only give two reasons for the Dolphins not being as bad as they were last season.
The first: Like the Patriots, it’s almost impossible to be any worse. The second—and the reason of hope for the Dolphins' future—is Bill Parcells. Every team he has taken over has improved greatly in the following season, including taking a 1-15 New York Jets team to one game away from the Super Bowl.
They have a great offensive line, and with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, hopefully they'll have at least one sufficient running back (Brown’s health and Williams' off-field troubles).
Chad Pennington will be able to do two things for the Dolphins: run an efficient offense and keep Chad Henne on the bench for at least a year so that he can learn the offense and enter the system when he is ready.
I like the defense because it is Parcells', but you can’t get rid of two players with 13 combined Pro Bowl appearances and eight First-Team All Pro selections (Jason Taylor: six Pro Bowls, three First Team All-Pro, Zach Thomas: seven Pro Bowls, five First Team All-Pro) and somehow think you are a better team defensively.
In Parcell’s defense, Taylor was starting to become a royal pain in the neck (but who could blame him, he is one of the best defensive players in the past 10 years and was on a team not going anywhere), and Thomas' small frame and hard hits are catching up with him; he only played in five games last season.
Final Record: 4-12