Handicapping the AFC East
Now that the draft if behind us training camp is just around the corner. It might have been a while but I think the AFC East can make a case for being the toughest division in football. They have the defending champion New England Patriots, much improved teams in New York and Buffalo, and Miami looks like a .500 outfit at least.
If not the most competitive than possibly the most interesting. When a coach gets fired and then rehired and doesn’t move far – Rex Ryan – it always sets up for some interesting games throughout the season. And there is that Belichick guy.
Lets break down this group team by team and see who is the best bet to knock the Patriots from their perch.
New England Patriots
Patriots Odds To Win 2016 Super Bowl: +700
Patriots Odds To Win 2016 AFC Conference: 7/2
Patriots Odds To Win 2016 AFC East Division: -200
The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl Champs but they are off a lot of boards as it remains to be seen what penalties will be levied from DeflateGate. As they are this team is the favourite to win the division and among the favourites the win the Super Bowl.
On the field there are definitely going to be some changes as the Patriots retooled in some key defensive spots. Gone are one of the best corner tandems in the league as well as one of the best run pluggers. In their place are far less proven players but this team has a high plug and play ability. The one thing they really can’t afford is something happening to Tom Brady which is why DeflateGate is such a big deal. Though not as bad as an injury any games they might have to play without him in the lineup are likely to be losses, severely hamstringing the organization’s chances…stay tuned.
The fact that defending champs usually fall off a little is just another challenge.
Bills Odds to win AFC East: +500
Bills Odds To Win 2016 AFC Conference: 16/1
Bills Odds to win Super Bowl: +4000
He may not win a title anywhere he goes but you can’t say that Rex Ryan doesn’t provide a jolt to a franchise. This offseason he landed in Buffalo and he has Bills fans believing that a return to the playoffs is inevitable.
In addition to Ryan the Bills made a splash by trading for Lesean McCoy and signing Percy Harvin. The idea is to get more explosive on offense because the defense is already among the league’s best. The only problem is this group still have major questions at the quarterback position. E.J. Manuel did little with his opportunity forcing them to rely on veteran Kyle Orton.
This year the veteran will be Matt Cassel and if he can just be steady this team should be pretty good.
Everything is in place to make the leap.
Dolphins Odds to win AFC East: +500
Dolphins Odds to Win 2016 AFC Conference: 16/1
Dolphins Odds to win Super Bowl: +4000
The Dolphins are in that middling ground that can be hard to get out of. They are certainly not an embarrassment but at the same time they are not really a threat. They have shuffled some of the cards this season on the hope of breaking through.
The biggest change for the Dolphins was landing free agent price Ndamukong Suh. He should free up their edge rushers just a little bit more but he won’t turn Ryan Tannehill into an elite quarterback. They have loaded up on receivers to try and speed his development but I don’t think he is going to ever be elite.
If the Patriots are going to fall this season the Dolphins could rise up as a result. Unfortunately they are not likely to benefit from any Bradyless games as a result of the schedule.
New York Jets
Jets Odds to win AFC East: +900
Jets Odds to Win 2016 AFC Conference: 22/1
Jets Odds to win Super Bowl: +5000
The Jets got rid of Rex Ryan but stayed with a defensive mindset by hiring Todd Bowles out of Arizona. Then they went nuts adding personnel on that side of the ball…and it just might work.
The cornerback tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie is back and the Jets scooped up Leonard Williams in the draft. Those additions make a solid unit even better and the Jets could be the top defensive team in the league. On offense adding Brandon Marshall gives them a solid duo and receiver but their backs are only average and the quarterback worse than that.
If the Jets can average 20ppg they should go 10-6. They are putting together a team that could surprise a lot, especially if New England falls off.
Prediction: This division suddenly got super hard to call thanks to the uncertainty with Brady and Patriots. Even before that this one looked like it might be super tight but now I really believe that all of these teams could win it or at least make the playoffs.
If I had to make one play though I would go with Buffalo. It will be interesting to see how the odds may reset.
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