The AFC East is a division with four teams the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins (based in Miami Gardens, Florida); the New England Patriots(based in Fox borough, Massachusetts); and the New York Jets (based in East Rutherford, New Jersey). The AFC is the only division in the NFL where none of the teams home games resides in the cities they represent. The division has been represented in nineteen Super Bowls and winning eight of them. The New England Patriots are the defending AFC and super bowl Champions. For the upcoming season, I rate them the favourite to win the division and a number one rank in the AFC overall. The Patriots upgraded the receiving corps with Brandon Crooks. Moreover, a healthy Gronkowski gives them a formidable group of receivers. The defence is stable with safeties Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon. The front line is deep with Alan Branch leading the way. I’m looking for Trey Flowers to have his best season in 2017. A key addition to the line is former Ravens, Lawrence Guy. The only weakness is on special teams where placekicker Stephen Gostkowski had a down year. The return unit is suspect, but I see improvement. The problem on return was fumbling last season. My final analysis leans to New England going reaching the AFC Championship game. If Brady gets the protection, they could be back at the big game. The overall draft analysis in my eyes is C. The Patriots should have looked for a good kick returner and field goal kicker during the off season. I liked that fact that they answered O line problems.
The Buffalo Bills are in a do or die year for a few players in certain positions. For example the QB position, running back and tight end, new GM and coach. We start with QB where Tyrod Taylor should be opening day starter. The Bills had the little option since the available QB’S were not worth the risk. I expect Taylor to have is the best season in that new head coach Mc Dermott coached in Philadelphia when Donovan Mc. Nab reigned supreme and recently in Carolina with Newton. The new coach should be an advocate for a dual threat QB. I feel Taylor problems occurred with an injury to receiving corps and inconsistent play calling buys the coaches. The Bills lose Mike Gillislie, but a healthy LeSean Mckoy is a factor to a productive season. The future at QB is big arm Cardale Jones, but they should be more productive due to improved O line play and better play calling. They need to roll Taylor out of the pocket and develop more plays for the tight end. Charles Clay is a tight end who led Buffalo with 57 catches and over 550 yards. The Bills running game should improve on short downs with the acquisition of FB Mike Tolbert from Carolina and Patrick DiMarco from Atlanta. A final analysis Buffalo once again will be top 3 in Defense, and they could lead the league again in rushing if backs stay healthy. I rank Buffalo draft a B because they drafted a QB a capable wide out in Zay Jones who will produce right away. The Bills could have taken Wayne Gallman arguably and in my eyes the most polished running back in the draft. My analysis is pressure people being on the hot seat will finally get the Bills over the hump. I like Buffalo chances for wild card spot, but they will need at least a 10-6 record. October 8th game at Cincinnati is a key they cannot afford to lose winnable road games. The Bills should be a long shot in the game but Bengals have fallen some. Most observers will rank Miami as the team to push new England and earn wildcard.
The Miami Dolphins are considered one of the upcoming teams. Many professional analyses list them as a serious threat to New England. I remember Miami as a team with an up and down record every year. Last year is a sort of success in that they made the playoffs losing to Pittsburgh 30-12. All hopes rested on Ryan Tannehill until he was injured. My concerns point to the durability at the QB position. Moreover a history of a slow start. Last year they started 1-4, and they cannot expect to recover this year if they start 1-4. Miami biggest surprise is the running game. Jay Ajayi is the real deal. Moreover, O linemen and the top pick in 2016 Tunsil is mature and not making mistakes that caused him to drop in the draft. The problem will be on D where the Dolphins rank 28th in yards allowed. They bring in a new coordinator named Matt Burke who is a promotion from linebackers coach. The bright spot is D-backs. Byron Maxwell lead all corners with four forced fumbles. The special teams is a plus and field goal kicker Andrew Franks is a nice surprise. Matt Darr ranks one of the best punters in NFL. Miami did not have a punter like him since Reggie Roby. A wildcard berth is realistic they will need to split new England and sweep Buffalo and win tough road games such as at Seattle and Baltimore. The Dolphins will have to go 10-6 for a playoff I see 8-8 or 9-7 record.
The Jets worked some magic in the draft. They addressed safety issue by drafting hard hitting Jamal Matthews from LSU and Marcus Maye from Florida. These two guys will start at strong and free safeties as rookies. On the offensive side of the ball, they drafted Ardarius Stewart from Alabama and Chad Hansen from California to fill the void of Brandon Marshall moving to Giants. The best pick might have been Leggett a 6.5 inch beast of tight end from Clemson. I surprised he fell to the 5th round. All of the Jets drafts choices should stick with the team. I give them an A plus for trying. If the Jets had a proven starter, they would be flirting with a 9-7 record this year. The Jets best win last year was against Baltimore week 7 and a 30-10 destruction of Buffalo week 16. I like New York Coach Todd Bowles he is a player’s coach and a good instructor. I believe he needs to be harder on the team. I don’t see one QB starting every game, and I would not be surprised if the Jets trade for a QB or pick up Colin K from free agency. Ultimately I see New York as a 1-15 or 2-14 team. They could split Buffalo and Miami and limp to a 4-12 season. The Jets are rebuilding, and Bowles should be safe for one more season. Football is an incredible game of twist and turns it’s like snakes and ladder. If the Jets could turn any of these guys into a capable starter with confidence, they could be 6-10 and upset or two away from 500. My call is 4th place and 2-14
1st New England 13-3 or 14-2 2nd Buffalo 10-6 or 9-7 3rd Miami 7-9 4th New York 2-14 or 4-12
Courtney H Duncan sports analyst and writer Crystal Cave Chronicles.