Something that may be surprising to some, the AFC East division could be up for grabs this year. With the Patriots losing Gronkowski for at least 6 weeks, and losing Wes Welker forever, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots may not have a great receiving corps. Miami has strengthened their defense over the offseason, acquiring some rookies and acquiring former Raven and superbowl champ Darnell Ellerbye. Yet, are their offense still going to struggle, even after getting receiver Mike Wallace from free agency.
Lets take a look at the predictions for the AFC East this season.
The New England Patriots
2013 predicted record: 11-5
2013 predicted team MVP: Tom Brady
They may have lost Wes Welker to free agency, Rob Gronkowski to injury and Aaron Hernandez to prison, but the New England Patriots know how to find a way to make things work. During the 2013 draft, the Patriots knew that they were in a desperate need of a wide receiver and so they got two wide receivers. In the second round, they chose Aaron Dobson, out of Marshall. And then, a little later, they chose Josh Boyce from TCU. If used properly, the Patriots may find this duo as a nice asset for the team. They also have a pleasant surprise in undrafted rookie Kendrell Thompkins, a wide receiver from Cincinatti. He really impressed the Patriots with his football skills thus far. Then they may also have success with another undrafted rookie, this guy, a tight end named Zach Sudfield. He has impressed the Patriots so much that he has now been practicing exclusively with the Patriot starters.
Being a 13 year pro, Tom Brady knows how to make things work, and although he is working with a totally knew receiving corps, he will find a way to be successful. Tom Brady has been consistent his whole career and have been nobodies into good looking players. he defense for the Patriots, although young, could be their best defense since 2007. Vince Wilfork will be leading the defense to victory every week like he always does and with the surprise of Justin Francis from last year, those two may be hard to stop. Chandler Jones fought off a foot injury last year, but when healthy, he could be a dynamite for the quarterback. New acquisition Adrian Wilson will fit easily in the defense. This should be a fun, exciting New England team to watch.
The Buffalo Bills
2013 Predicted record: 7-9
2013 Predicted team MVP: CJ Spiller
Choosing the second place team was very difficult for me. Yet, I decided to choose the Buffalo Bills as a second place team. I do think that they made a mistake on getting rid of their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during the offseason. He may not have been living up to his expectations, especially after signing a 59 million dollar extension a couple of years ago. Yet, I do believe that if he had a decent group of receivers, he could have done better that he had done. Now, the Bills have two quarterbacks. Their first quarterback is former Cardinal and Eagle Kevil Kolb, who has never really had much success in the NFL. The other is rookie first rounder EJ Manuel from Florida St. Firstly, the Bills made a mistake at getting Manuel in the first round. He is never going to play like a first rounder. His playing style may be like Colin Kaepernick’s, but he will not have as much success as Colin has had.
CJ is going to have a big year. I can just feel it. He is already noticed as a good player, and he has been working his butt off in training camp, claiming that he will run with the ball until he ‘throws up’. He may help this somewhat mangled Bills team into a contender.
The Miami Dolphins
2013 Predicted Record: 6-10
2013 Predicted team MVP: Mike Wallace
When healthy, Mike Wallace can be a huge threat for the offense. He came to Miami as a free agent this offense and I am sure the Dolphins can not be anymore pleased. Miami would have been a (somewhat) better team last year if they had a better wide receiver corp. But, now with Mike Wallace, you may be seeing many deep passes down the field for touchdowns. Not only has their receiving gotten better, but they also have a better defense. Whether it is veteran Cameron Wake or new Dolphin and former Super Bowl winner Dannell Ellerbe, they could be a great defense.
The New York Jets
Predicted 2013 record: 4-12
2013 Predicted team MVP: Antonio Cromartie
They may always be on the not top ten plats highlights, but somehow, the very dysfunctional Jets find ways to win (sometimes). In fact, although it was still a longshot, it took up until week 15 for the Jets to not be eligible for the play offs. Yet, it felt like it was since week 7 or 8. Lets face it, this Jets team is not good. They are not going to go anywhere with Mark Sanchez as their quarterback. Geno Smith seemed like a nice pick up but I do not know how much he will affect this team this year. It may feel like a less religious Tebow/Sanchez debate from last year. Where Rex says he will use Smith in certain situations and then not use him at all. It seems like Rex Ryan and the Jets organization are very high on Sanchez and it may take a few more butt fumbles before they decide to bench him. They may actually have a good defense this year. Antonio Cromartie is a beast in the backfield and will continue to do so this season. And, with the Jets getting rookie Dee Milliner from Alabama as another cornerback, he seems like he could also have an impact on the defense as well. Yet, with the recent Rex Ryan blunders, he will single handedly derail the Jets into another awful, humiliating season.
AFC East MVP: Tom Brady
AFC East Offensive Player of the Year: Tom Brady
AFC EAST Defensive Player of the Year: Antonio Cromartie
AFC EAST Rookie of the Year: EJ Manuel
I think Tom Brady has the most underrated offense right now because he is with a bunch of nobodies. However, these ‘nobodies’ play really well and people may overlook them. If EJ Manuel can stay healthy, he could be the best rookie in the AFC East.
Bold Prediction: Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith end up getting benched for too many play mistakes and Greg McElroy becomes their starter. A little too far fetched, but it is a bold prediction nonetheless.
The AFC East is known to be weak competitively, however, this year, a team may rise to challenge the Patriots this year. And who knows, the Patriots may have less than a ten win season for the first time in over ten years. I do believe that the Patriots need at least ten wins to secure a playoff spot. The Jets need to fire Rex Ryan to get better, the Bills need to find a quarterback that does not get hurt because an undrafted rookie QB who hasn’t even stepped foot on an NFL field during the regular season won’t get you very far and the Dolphins need to make sure Ryan Tannehill is protected in the pocket.