2009 Standings: AFC East

Daniel MaderContributor IJune 11, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 28:  Matt Cassel #16 of the New England Patriots looks to hand off during the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 28, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

It's never too early to think about who will be the best team of their division this year. Die hard fans have been talking up or down their teams throughout the free agency, the draft, and will continue through training camp.

AFC East is year in and year out one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. The division had only one team under .500 and that was the Bills who started the season in first place.

The AFC East brings up some interesting questions leading in to the 2009 season.

How will T.O. fare in Buffalo? Who will be the Jets starting QB? Can the Dolphins repeat their surprise season last year? Of course the famous question, will Tom Brady be ready?

1. New England Patriots

Patriots will rise back to the top to regain there rightful place at the head of the the division this season. The leader, the man, and the backbone of the team has shown he is fully recovered to take the helm at QB.

Brady has been reported to be far ahead of the doctor's schedule for him. In fact, there was bad weather in New England during practice and Patriots did not limit his wok in the least.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

These are all good signs to me (especially for fantasy). Brady has some new weapons to play with as well this year making this offense further explosive and stacked.

Joey Galloway, though on the latter part of his career, will fit in perfectly as the third receiver for the Patriots. Fred Taylor also is a very nice piece to fit in with the platoon of running backs the Pats will use this season.

Expect this offense to be in the top three this season.

The offense isn't the only thing the Patriots have going for them. Their defense has also been rebuilt with new additions from free agency and the draft.

 Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden were signed in free agency to give the Patriots two new starting corners right away. Then the Patriots went on to draft SS Patrick Chung,  a hard hitting safety expected to compete to start this season. Another key pick up on defense would be Darius Butler expected to produce in nickel packages.

The rest of the defense is younger now for the Patriots and developing quickly under Belichick.

2. Buffalo Bills

Now the Bills get to have their turn in the saga that is T.O. This guys is like a hot potato, (toss him before he burns you) he gets passed around the league burning hands and fingers as he goes by.

Ultimately, when it's all said and done, the man can still play football. Having a dual threat at WR with Lee Evans (the most underrated WR in the game) on the other side of T.O will give the Bills another competitive edge. This should help especially in the beginning of the season when Lynch is out because of suspension.

The weight of the entire offense now falls on to the shoulders of Trent Edwards.  Edwards is now going to be in his third year. It's the year that he must prove he is the future of the Buffalo Bills especially with the highly talented weapons surrounding him.

If he does not perform to expectations this season with this personnel then the Bills may decide to go another way.

The Bills defense will be what hinders them against opponents this season. In order to improve their invisible pass rush last season they drafted Aaron Maybin out of Penn State.

However, the Bills did not really improve their secondary in which they ranked 22nd last season.

3. New York Jets

Sanchez their first round draft pick is supposed to start and be the future of the Jets. It's hard to accomplish these goals when he looks like a chicken with his head cut off in OTAs.

Training Camp has not started yet so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he will pick up the Jets scheme by then. However because of his under performance and Clemens reportedly doing well, it becomes more of a question of who exactly will start.  

Thankfully for the Jets the rushing attack is what they will lean on the most. They have a very good offensive line blocking the way for Thomas Jones who had a breakout season last year.

Leon Washington should start to take a bigger role as well, especially in the flat out of the backfield.

Should not forget that Rex Ryan is the Head Coach now coming from a team that always has a good running game. The defense should benefit from Ryan the most this season.

The defense did not make major improvements on the roster. Outside of Lito Sheppard there wasn't any big name acquisitions for them this year ,but I'm sure Ryan has a few tricks up his sleeve.  

In the end even if Ryan improves the defense there will still have to have an adjustment made on both sides of the ball taking third place in this division.

4. Miami Dolphins

There worst to first season last year was a great feat for the Dolphins. The help of having one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, and no Tom Brady to play against benefited the Dolphins a great deal.

Running game for the Dolphins should be effective, but the passing game may produce next to nothing.

Pennington is solid and maybe Pat White running the Wildcat will add another dimension to the formation. The Dolphins though did not have a standout wide receiver. Anthony Fasano was probably there most dependable aerial threat.

The defense will will be solid building off the success of last season. The return home for Jason Taylor will provide some what of a pass rush for this team, the Dolphins hope.

Ultimately the Dolphins did not improve enough during the off season to stay as competitive as they were. The schedule is tougher and the wildcat formation is no longer a surprise for teams.