Here’s the thing with the AFC East. I do believe that one of the other three teams in the East is going to get into the playoffs as a wildcard and a good argument can probably be made for either one but I’m going to make the case for my team.
The division winner- The New England Patriots (10-6)
Truth be told, had Tom Brady’s suspension been upheld, I think I would’ve predicted the Pats to get in more as a wildcard. However, with Brady’s suspension overturned, he’s just so far and away the best quarterback in the division and I can’t bet against him. That said, I’m really not liking the Pats defense without Darelle Revis or longtime leader of the defense Vince Wilfork. Brady will also be without longtime safety valve, Shane Vereen, on the offensive side of the ball but I think so long as he has Gronkowski (and newly acquired TE Scott Chandler) he will find a way. One thing to keep an eye on, and part of the reason I’m giving the Pats 6 losses, they finish the season with 3 of the final 4 on the road. That isn’t ideal even if you are the defending Superbowl champs.
The Wildcard- The New York Jets (10-6)
Go ahead and call me a goober if you must but I’m picking the Jets to sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard. There was perhaps no team more active over the offseason than the Jets who took care of almost every area of need. Whether it be at wide receiver with the addition of Brandon Marshall, running back with the additions of Zac Stacy & Stevan Ridley and the secondary with the return of both Antonio Cromartie & Darelle Revis, the Jets would seemed primed to make a run under first year head coach Todd Bowles. So why aren’t they my pick to win the division? What else, the issue of quarterback. First off this idea that Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought in as a veteran backup and is in any way shape or form a step back from Geno Smith is ludicrous. Fitzpatrick will never be representing the AFC in the Pro Bowl but is a smart enough quarterback to not blow games for his team which was a problem with Smith. Also, likely because Fitzpatrick was given so much money by the Bills and never lived up to that contract, Fitzpatrick is actually pretty under rated as a passer. Each year he’s improved his quarterback rating since 2011 up to a respectable 95.3 last year. Last season, he posted a respectable 63% completion percentage and a career best 17-8 TD-INT ratio. This was en route to him leading a Texans team to a respectable 9-7 record while competing for a playoff spot with comparable talent. If the jets can remain around .500 before their bye, the schedule gets a lot easier and I have the Jets winning 10 games and returning to the postseason.
3) Right On The Outskirts- The Miami Dolphins (7-9)
Looking at the Dolphins schedule you’ll probably be quitck to throw your arms up in the air and call me expletives…provided you only look at the first seven weeks of their schedule. Seriously, there is an outside chance that the Dolphins will be first place in the AFC East and start the season 6-0. Then all breaks loose for the Dolphins schedule as they go on the road for three straight weeks to face to Foxboro, Buffalo and Philly. They should come back to Earth really fast and then they have games remaining against Dallas, the Colts, Giants and Ravens as well as trips to the Jets and the Chargers. Remember this is isn’t a case where I think the Dolphins are going to be Tennessee Titans awful, I’m sure they’ll be competitive, and something can be said for riding the momentum of a fast start. They now have Ndamukong Suh & a pretty stout defense to boot. But that’s always the story with the Dolphins. They still have the same quarterback and this time he doesn’t even have Mike Wallace and the Dolphins haven’t done much to replace Wallace. Ryan Tannehill isn’t the type of QB who can make household names out of a Jarvis Landry or Kenny Stills . That said, I also don’t believe in Joe Philbin, even if this is his last shot.
The Bottom Of The Barrel- The Buffalo Bills (6-10)
A lot of people are picking the Bills and first year coach Rex Ryan to make a run at the postseason. Does this sound familiar a Rex Ryan team with a great defense, a ground and pound attack with a stud running back, a couple of playmakers at wide receiver and no sign of a quarterback whatsoever? Of course it does! At the end of the day it comes down to the fact that the Bills have a collection of unproven quarterbacks. The fact that so many people are picking this Bills team to make the playoffs when opening day starter, Tyrod Taylor has thrown a total of 35 passes in his 4 YEAR NFL career is baffling! Look at their schedule and find me more then six wins, I bet you can’t!