In this interesting football season, filled with controversial headlines (e.g. Plaxico Burress, Pacman Jones), there is an old-fashioned battle for the top of the AFC East.
As I write this article, there is a three-way tie for first place in the division with the Pats, Jets, and (who would have guessed it?) Dolphins. It's hard to imagine that two teams that finished last year on opposite sides of the power spectrum, the Dolphins and Pats, would be tangling with another team for first place in a major AFC division.
Honestly, I am rooting strongly for the Dolphins because I like what Parcells has done with the organization, transforming it into a culture of winning.
The Jets are a good squad but need to be willed to victory by Favre. And for the Patriots, I respect Belichick and am aware that he is a great coach but still hold a strong disdain (hate) for him. OK, now lets get to my pick.
Weighing the options. (No Special Teams)
New England Patriots
Offense- Mixed RB play from BGE, Faulk, and Sammy Morris. Developing young QB in Cassel being helped out tremendously by receiving stud Randy Moss and the "Slot Machine" Wes Welker.
Defense- The weakness is age. The linebackers are old, they even just recently picked Junior Seau up from the funeral home. The two cornerstones of the line and secondary, Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison are always hurt. The unit as a whole is very tired and needs some replenishment from the draft.
New York Jets
Offense- Nice RB tandem with hard runner Thomas Jones and change of pace back Leon Washington. QB is, of course, Brett Favre, one of the best in league without a doubt. The men he throws to are very talented and speedy group who are a lot less well-know then Brett in Coles, Cotchery, and TE Dustin Keller.
Defense- Anchored by DT Kris Jenkins, the line is a force and can stuff the run when called upon. The rest of the D is nothing to phone home about. Weak LB crew and injured secondary allow for points to total up fairly quickly for the opponent.
Offense- Talented, young RB Ronnie Brown is their top rusher and has been highly utilized in their new "Wildcat" scheme. The man who Brett ran out of town, Chad Pennington, is playing respectable QB and managing games well.
Defense- Led vocally and on the field by OLB Joey Porter, the defense has been opportunistic, gotten pressure and given the offense chances to win games. They are a moderately unknown union that has gotten the job done.
The Verdict: Jets
You have to go with the most complete team with the best leader in Favre. The Dolphins Wildcat is just as disguise for their lack of true skill and depth. The Patriots defense is just too much of a liability. I know they have been struggling, but the Jets are my pick for division champs.