The NFL season is quickly approaching and with teams already set with free agency and the draft, the AFC East teams will look to once again try and dethrone the Patriots and fight for a playoff spot.
New York Jets
The Jets released LB David Harris, WR Eric Decker, WR Brandon Marshall, CB Darrelle Revis, PK Nick Folk, C Nick Mangold, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, SS Calvin Pryor, and S Marcus Gilchrist. Along with that, they signed LB Spencer Paysinger, RB/KR Jordan Todman, WR Marquess Wilson, and LB Demario Davis. Both Fitzatrick and Nick Folk signed one year deals to Tampa Bay, Calvin Pryor was traded to Cleveland and Brandon Marshall signed a 2-year contract with the New York Giants, while the rest of the talents released are still free agents.
The quarterback position is once again the weak spot, with the addition of Josh McCown in the fray, the offense may have some trouble. The offense may show flashes of great play, but it will be not enough for the Jets to reach the playoffs.
In 2016, the Jets offense was rated 26th as they rushed for 112.6 Yds per game (12th) and passed for 216.6 Yds per game (27th) per CBS Sports. They also only scored 17.2 ppg (30th), 275 points in the season, also 30th in the league, and with McCown playing under center, they may have even more problems than they anticipated.
The defense in 2016 was 11th in the league, allowing 98.8 rushing Yds per game (11th), and 243.6 passing Yds allowed per game (17th). They allowed 25.6 ppg (28th), and their defensive unit may be underrated once again, possibly cracking in the top-15 for the 2017-2018 season. Expect a much better performance once the season starts.
Projected Record: 3-13
The Miami Dolphins started the 2016 season at 1-4, but went 9-2 to finish the season at 10-6. They ended up grabbing a spot in the playoffs, but were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-12 in the Wildcard round. The Dolphins then released Mario Williams, Branden Albert, Earl Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.
Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback, entering his 6th season under center, and will enjoy another successful year. The offense is full of great players in Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, and Jay Ajayi.
Per CBS Sports, the offense was 24th in the league, rushing for 114.0 Yds per game (9th), and passed for 218.8 Yds per game (26th). They scored 22.7 points per game which was 17th in the league and scored 380 points (17th).
On the defensive side of the ball, they were a paltry 29th in the league, allowing 140 rushing Yds per game (30th) and 242.2 passing Yds per game allowed (15th). They also allowed 23.8 points per game which was 18th in the league.
The defense may be a very good unit, but will it be enough to get them back in the playoffs? Miami will need to make some adjustments heading into next season.
Projected Record: 9-7
The Buffalo Bills season ended with disappointment, ending with a 7-9 record and failing to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight season. The offensive line was very weak as Tyrod Taylor was the most sacked quarterback in the NFL with 42. This offseason though, they have addressed the hole at the OL position via free agency and the draft.
The Bills drafted OT Dion Dawkins, re-signed OG Ryan Groy, and OT Cameron Jefferson. The O-Line should be one of the most improved once the season rolls in and could be an underrated unit in the league.
Although the offensive side struggled, they were 16th in the league in total offense. They rushed for 164.4 Yds per game (1st), but passed a meager 189.8 Yds per game, which was good for 30th in the league. They scored 24.9 points per game which was 10th in the league and scored 399 points for the season.
The defense was not good, but not bad. They rated 19th in the league, allowing 133.1 rushing Yds per game (29th) and 223.9 passing Yds per game (6th). The defense could make or break their playoff chances.
With Rex Ryan out and Sean McDermott being the new head coach, the Bills may have a chance to reach the playoffs. It will be a challenge to reach that pinnacle of success right away.
Projected Record: 8-8
New England Patriots
The Patriots finished arguably the most historic comeback in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. Overcoming a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28 in overtime with a James White touchdown run to seal the game and claim their 5th Lombardi trophy. This year, they have a chance to repeat after picking up Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Stephon Gilmore, Mike Gillislee, Kony Ealy, David Harris and Lawrence Guy, who is arguably the most underrated DE in the game right now. They also re-signed Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, who took a 3rd straight pay-cut to stay with the team, and Rob Gronkowski is coming back after a back injury last season.
Tom Brady will be 40 in August, but shows no sign of slowing down. This offense might be one of the best ever, which is good for Brady and he may be an MVP once the season ends.The duo of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore will be very fun to watch and the linebacker core is one of the best in the league. New England also has Safeties Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung patrolling downfield.
The offense was 4th in the league per CBS Sports, rushing for 117 Yds per game (7th) and passing for 269. 2 Yds per game (4th). They were also 3rd in scoring with 27.6 points per game, and scored 441 points for the season. The offense will be the most improved and one of the best since the 2007 season, so expect a lot of high scoring games for this team.
On defense, they were 8th in the league allowing only 88.6 rushing yards per game (3rd) and 237.9 passing yards per game, good for 12th. They also ranked 1st in points against with 15.6 points per game and only 250 points for the season. This defense will be a scary unit in the 2017-2018 season, and has a legitimate chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Projected Record: 14-2
The season is upon us and things will change with injuries and/or poor performances, but there is one thing that may be interesting. Although the Patriots will win the division once again, the rest of the AFC East will be competitive with the wildcard spot in the balance.