The AFC East is one of the best divisions in the NFL. Anchored by the New England Patriots—the perennial power—and the new powerhouse New York Jets, the division is used to sending two teams to the playoffs year in and year out. With the always competitive Miami Dolphins and the improving Buffalo Bills finishing off the stacked class of rivals, the division is known as one of the most competitive in the league.
This season, each AFC team will play every team in the NFC East and AFC West, along with playing each other twice, depending on how they finished last season. Knowing this, here are my predictions for each team in the AFC East.
FINAL RECORD: 5-11
The Bills fail to overcome a bad start to the season, as a string of tough opponents leads them to a 1-5 start, well behind the division leaders.
Ryan Fitzpatrick emerges as a decent starting quarterback option in the NFL, and C.J. Spiller finally breaks through and shows us the talent he possesses.
The Bills' first-round pick, Marcell Dareus, excels as a star defensive lineman in the league and becomes the young leader of the struggling Bills defense.
Overall, some of the Bills make huge leaps forward, but the team is still years away from playoff contention.
FINAL RECORD: 6-10
The Dolphins remain a competitive team in the AFC East, but a tough schedule against many playoff-caliber teams takes its toll on their record.
Their season is highlighted by huge wins over division rival Jets in Week 6 and the Raiders in Week 13.
Mike Pouncey emerges as a solid center in the NFL, and Cameron Wake proves that last season's breakout performance was no fluke.
All together, the Dolphins show that they are still a strong opponent for any team, but they are not yet ready to emerge as a playoff team in an extremely difficult division.
FINAL RECORD: 12-4
Despite one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL, the Patriots still manage to finish 12-4. They head to yet another postseason as one of the favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
Tom Brady continues his illustrious career by contending for his third MVP. The Pats' ever improving defense shows flashes of brilliance, and the young tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez mix well with veteran receivers Deion Branch and Wes Welker.
Overall, the Patriots have another dominating regular season that lands them as contenders for Super Bowl XLVI.
FINAL RECORD: 13-3
The New York Jets win their first division title since 2002, as they finish the regular season on a 10 game win-streak after starting the year at just 3-3.
Shonn Greene, LT and newcomer Joe McKnight power a stable ground attack, and Gang Green's shutdown defense emerges as one of the league's best.
Overall, the Jets claim home-field advantage throughout the postseason, something they have lacked in their prior runs in the last two seasons.