NFL Predictions: Race for the AFC East Goes through New York Or New England
The AFC East is turning out to be a two-team race with the Miami Dolphins quickly fading from the picture.
This division may house the two best teams in the conference, even the NFL, in the New York Jets and New England Patriots. It may also house the worst team in football in the Buffalo Bills.
With a little less than half a season to go, the race for the AFC East crown is going to be a dogfight, with New York and New England both knotted up with a 7-2 record.
Rex Ryan's confidence or Bill Belichick's genius—which are you taking?
In this series of articles, I predict every team's record and the outcome in each division. I will name wild cards and eventually simulate a playoff and end with a Super Bowl winner.
New England Patriots
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This particular race for the division is going to be a little shaky, because I believe the worse of the two teams will win the AFC East strictly because of the schedule remaining.
New England is an extremely well-coached team, but they are without a doubt less talented than the Jets and they don't really match up well with them. But the Patriots have a favorable schedule for the final seven games that most likely won't pose too much of a challenge to them.
The secondary worries me, but they have shown signs of improvement over the course of 2010, and any Tom Brady-led team has a chance to go the distance if they make the playoffs. I like BenJarvus Green-Ellis (pictured above) and the pace he's been setting. When the Patriots run the ball successfully, they are almost impossible to contain on offense.
The Randy Moss trade was an extremely good example of addition by subtraction, in my opinion, and look for the Dec. 6th contest at home against the Jets to have a large effect on the outcome of the division, and possibly homefield advantage.
Prediction: 13-3, 1st AFC East
New York Jets
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Its amazing what a little offseason spending and a confident coaching staff can do for a franchise.
The New York Jets have transformed a team struggling to find an identity into a super bowl contender and quite possibly the most dangerous team in the entire league.
Rex Ryan's "No BS" attitude and superior defensive mind has created the monster we call Gang Green. None of your skin is going to fall off, but you will die a slow and painful death at the hands of the New York defense.
Just seeing these guys on the field is intimidating. Where are you supposed to throw when you have Revis Island on one side and Antonio Cromartie on the other? The answer is you don't.
This team hasn't given up more than 23 points in a game all season and its only two losses have come in games that the offense couldn't perform against a high-quality NFL defense.
If Mark Sanchez limits the mistakes, the Jets can—and will—beat anyone. A wild card looks like it could be in the making for a team that could be the Super Bowl favorites.
Prediction: 12-4, 2nd in AFC East
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It has been a weird season in South Beach for Tony Sparano and the Miami Dolphins.
First, they start out the season losing their first three games at home and winning their first four on the road. Then they bench young starter Chad Henne in favor of veteran Chad Pennington. Lastly, the playcalling during Thursday Night's debacle at home against Chicago has me seriously questioning the coaching staff.
The 16-0 shutout loss this past Thursday all but erased all hopes Miami had of making a playoff push, and with Tyler Thigpen forced into action after injuries to "Chad squared," things are looking dimmer and dimmer each week for Tony Sparano's crew.
Now Brandon Marshall is down, and with a woeful rush offense this year, I have a feeling like the rest of the season is going to focus on developing the young guys and finding out what they have for next season.
Prediction: 7-9, 3rd in AFC East
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Since the Music City Miracle in 1999, the Buffalo Bills have failed to make the playoffs.
After a 1-8 start, things won't be any different in western New York, but I love the grit and determination this team plays with, and I have not seen them let up in any game so far this season.
They battle teams to the whistle, a mentality Chan Gailey is trying to instill in his first season as Bills HC.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the prototypical NFL quarterback, but he flat-out makes plays, and has been putting Buffalo in a position to win for the past month, with them finally pulling out a victory last week against Detroit.
With 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns, Fitzpatrick has really done the most he could, with the lack of talent at receiver/tight end and a very inexperience offensive line.
The Bills at least are on the right track and are piecing together a team that could be successful in the future. They have to keep working hard, so their plan can come to fruition.
Prediction: 3-13, Last in AFC East
Vince Wilfork thinking about his receding hairline.
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Phil Lombardo is a Bleacher Report Writing Intern and a Featured Columnist for the New York Giants and New York Knicks. He also attends St. Bonaventure University where he is a senior studying Journalism/Mass Communications.
Be on the lookout for the next division and follow up on what my predictions will be for the outcome of the 2010 season! Any comments/likes would be much appreciated, Thanks!