NFL: AFC East Preview

1) New England Patriots– The New England Patriots have had the biggest off-season out of all the NFL teams. They have been filling the headlines with the signing of quarterback Tim Tebow and with the arrest of Aaron Hernandez who was charged with murder and subsequently kicked off the team. If your’e a Patriots fan as I am you are not used to all of this attention being focused on New England. This team was hit hard in the off-season with the loss of Tom Brady’s favorite target Wes Welker. The Patriots also lost wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, running back Danny Woodhead, and safety Patrick Chung, they also lost a few offensive and defensive linemen. The Patriots with all the losses also added some players they hope will provide solid production. They added wide receiver Danny Amendola who has not really proven himself in the NFL yet, but like Amendola like Welker will look to make himself a name in New England. They also added Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones to help fill the much needed receiver spot on the roster. On the defensive side of the ball defensive tackles Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead. To fill the spot of missing Patrick Chung at safety the Patriots added veteran Adrian Wilson to help out in the secondary. The Patriots aren’t a run heavy team and have relied on Brady’s arm to get them through the season. They will do the same this year, but expect to see a rise in the amount of touches Stevan Ridley receives. Brady will be seeing a lot of new faces he will be throwing to this year, but most importantly Brady will rely heavily on tight end Rob Gronkowski to open up the middle of the field. The Patriots will struggle on the offensive side of the ball against teams with solid defenses such as Atlanta, Denver, and Houston. For the Patriots defense they haven’t really lost anyone except safety Patrick Chung who in my opinion they replaced with a better player Adrian Wilson. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork will be the anchor of this defense upfront. Wilfork as expected will be the key to stopping the opponents running game. On the line with Wilfork is two year guy Chandler Jones out of Syracuse. Jones will look to prove himself this year and the Patriots staff are really hoping he will come out this year as an impact player. The Patriots secondary is anchored by linebacker Jerod Mayo who will look to be this teams leading tackler. The Patriots defense has seen a decline in its effectiveness over the past few years. This season for the New England Patriots will be an average season with a trip to the playoffs as usual. This team will finish the season as AFC East champions. Prediction: 12-4 AFC East Champions

2) Miami Dolphins– The Miami Dolphins have had a relatively quiet off-season. They added explosive wide receiver Mike Wallace from Pittsburgh, tight end Dustin Keller, outside linebacker Phillip Wheeler along with a few other lineman on both sides of the ball. The Dolphins lost running back Reggie Bush, tight end Antony Fasano, wide receiver Davone Bess. The biggest loss for the Dolphins this off-season was first overall pick in the 2008 draft, tackle Jake Long. Jake Long was the bulk of their offensive line and he will be greatly missed by the team after not resigning with the team. The Dolphins will lean on the talents of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill who did not have the best season last year will look to his new targets Mike Wallace and tight end Dustin Keller to get the ball to, The speedy Mike Wallace will add a vertical attack to their offense with his speed to get behind the secondary. With Wallace as a deep threat this will free up wide receiver Brian Hartline underneath the secondary. Keller will look to open up the middle of the field while also being a dangerous red zone target. In the backfield the Dolphins have running backs Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller who will most likely split the carries half and half. This could prove to be an effective attack if their offensive line could hold their own upfront. On the other side of the ball the dolphins added linebacker Dannell Ellerbe who will look to lead the linebacker corp of the Dolphins. Cameron Wake a veteran pass rusher will look to anchor the defense down and provide an effective pass rush against teams. As far as their secondary nothing has changed and is average at best. The Dolphins will finish second in the AFC due to the fact that their is little to no competition in this division other than the Patriots who have vastly out played them for years. At the end of the season the Dolphins will finish up with a below average record. Prediction: 7-9

3) Buffalo Bills – The Bills lost quiet a few members of their team this off-season. They lost their starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson also, they also lost a few receivers on the offensive side of the ball along with two linemen. On their defense they lost linebackers Nick Barnett, and Kelvin Sheppard who were both starters at the linebacker spot. At the defensive end position they lost Chris Kelsay and Shawn Merriman. In the secondary they no longer have safety George Wilson and corner back Terrance McGee. These are all important losses to this team as most of the people listed were starters for this team. The Bills drafted quarterback EJ Manuel, who is expected to be the week one starter. EJ Manuel will bring some versatility to this struggling Bills offense. Manual with his running ability will look use his legs to cause defenses problems. Running back CJ Spiller will look to have another great season for the Bills. Spiller who exploded onto the scene last year is expected to provide and take the workload of this offense. Spiller provides explosiveness in the backfield while also providing a receiving target for rookie quarterback Manuel. Spiller’s talents will help take some of the pressure off of EJ Manuel, which will hopefully help him ease himself into the NFL. Stevie Johnson at wide receiver along with rookie receiver Robert Woods will look to provide much needed production for this offense. As for the defensive side of the ball they added linebackers Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes. At the defensive tackle spot they have the talented but disappointing Mario Williams who last year signed a 6 year contract with 50 million dollars guaranteed. Williams who has not proven himself worth that huge contract he signed. As for their defensive backs they have pro bowler Jarius Byrd, Leodis McKelvin and second year corner Stephen Gilmore. This team is below average but will win a few games and might pull off an upset or two, but nothing spectacular. EJ Manuel and CJ Spiller will determine the destiny of this Buffalo Bills team. This team is still trying to rebuild and will continue this season. Prediction 6-10

4) New York Jets– The Jets this off-season lost star corner back and Darrelle Revis, safety LaRon Landry, tight end Dustin Keller, and linebacker Bart Scott. These losses will greatly affect the team due to the fact that they were already bad, but these will hurt them greatly. Some positives were they added rookie corner back Dee Millner, and rookie Geno Smith. They added a few veterans such as Dawan Landry, Kellen Winslow, and Brian Waters. The Jets offensively will continue to struggle with moving the ball because of the poor performance at the quarterback spot of Mark Sanchez. The Jets added rookie quarterback Geno Smith but it appears Sanchez will still be starting week one. The Jets offense will not and cannot be successful with Mark Sanchez starting. In the backfield the Jets traded for running back Chris Ivory who will look to provide production for this horrid offense. At the receiving spot Santonio Holmes will return along with Stephen Hill, while both have great talent neither one of them has done anything for the team. The Jets on the defensive side are just as bad as their offense. With the loss of veteran corner back Darrelle Revis things went from bad to worse. This team last season couldn’t even stop a nose bleed finishing the season with one of the worst defenses. The Jets are looking for rookie corner Dee Millner to fill Revis’ shoes, which in my opinion he cannot do, not because he doesn’t have the ability, but because no matter how he performs he cannot compare to Revis. The loss of pro bowl safety LaRon Landry is now taking things form worse to terrible. The Jets secondary is bad, but talent wise they are better than some other teams in the league. The Jets defense will be more efficient than their offense this season, but that’s not saying much. The Jets are in a rebuilding process and I think that they will have one of the worst records this season. The Jets should tank this season and look to get a good draft pick, if lucky they could land the number one pick and draft defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. The Jets will continue to be the laughing stock of the NFL. Prediction 4-12


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