The Beasts from the AFC East
While it is a general consensus that the NFC East is the best division in the NFC, which is the power division in the AFC? Definitely not the AFC West with their first place team a mere 4-4, or even the AFC South with those under-performing Colts and Jaguars. The powerhouse division has to be the AFC East.
The New England Patriots are the team of the decade. Even without Tom Brady right now they are tied for first place in the AFC East. They have one of the best head coaches in NFL history, one of the best front-sevens in the league, and one of the better running games.
Regardless of what happens, this team is just too good to be ignored and should make the playoffs, and maybe even progress; but then again this is coming from an optimistic Patriots fan.
The New York Jets became instant contenders in this division when they signed two Pro Bowl linemen and Brett Favre before the season started. While Favre has been short of spectacular, their offensive line has allowed Thomas Jones to average 4.5 yards per carry and Favre has done enough to lead them to two comeback wins already this season. They are currently 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the division.
The Buffalo Bills started the season 4-0 before dropping to their current 5-3 record. The Bills are 5-1 outside of division play and a measly 0-2 when playing other AFC East teams. They are looking at 0-3 in the division if they cannot step it up versus the Patriots this week.
This team started the season beating two teams that had playoff hopes—and even Super Bowl hopes—in the Seahawks and Jaguars. Those two teams are, of course, struggling at this point in the season. After getting demolished by Arizona, the Bills beat a Chargers team that was riding high after stomping the Patriots. Then two discouraging losses dropped the Bills from being one of the best teams in the league to third place in the division.
If asked at this point last year if any team wanted to play the Dolphins, every team in the NFL would have said yes. They were the doormat to building a winning streak last year where they came one Camarillo catch from going winless.
Now fast forward to 2008. This Miami team could quite possibly be the most dangerous team in the NFL. They have a stifling defense, one of the best running back duos in the game, and the ultimate game manager at QB.
The Dolphins are two or three miraculous plays away from being a 6-2 team and undefeated in divisional play. The only knock on them is their inconsistency and inability to close the games. As they get more used to winning this should change. This is a team I would not want to face in the playoffs.
Another scary thought for any team is playing on the road versus the Patriots, the Jets, or the Bills in the playoffs. Both teams are located in the north, where teams would be forced to play in the freezing cold against run-oriented teams. Don't believe me? Just ask the 2004 Colts, who were the best passing offense in history before sputtering for three points in the New England snow.
We will have to wait until the season plays out, but both wild card teams could very well come out of the AFC East. Most AFC teams will probably have to win their division if they wish to make the playoffs because all of the teams in the AFC East could quite easily be 10-6 by year's end.
The only good news is that these teams will have to beat up on each other many more times before they get to that point.
The rest of the league better watch out.
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