AFC East Preview – All Roads Lead to Foxboro


1. New England Patriots

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins

4. Buffalo Bills

New England:

Bill Belichick has proved he is a true coaching genius in the past, but perhaps last season was the ultimate proof. In the offseason he somehow extracted a 1st Round Pick from Seattle for Deion Branch, which was an utter sin that anyone paid that high a price. And then he managed to get to the AFC Championship Game, and 8 minutes from another Super Bowl, with a receiving corps that contained three guys who might not start on most NFL teams. He somehow managed to pull off an upset of the leagues number one team, San Diego on their home turf, with Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney, and without Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, and a vast number of their other starting defense.

This offseason was a vast change over last year. And while they still have to worry about the holdout of Asante Samuel, who should have been a Pro Bowl cornerback last year, the team has been completely reshaped and ready to dominate an inferior division this season. The Patriots decided that they didn’t want to make another march to the Super Bowl with three no-name, minimal talent wideouts… so they bought 4 new ones. They added Dante Stallworth, Kelly Washington, and Wes Welker in the same week. And then just after draft day the Pats acquired superstar Randy Moss, for a fourth round pick. Moss hadn’t really performed in Oakland, but under the tutelage of Belichick, Brady, Bruschi, Seymour and all the others who have been there and won Championships, Randy Moss will be fine. Look what the Pats did to Corey Dillon, who was a headcase before coming to Foxboro. The Pats also added outside Linebacker Adalius Thomas from the Baltimore Ravens who should play a huge pass rushing role in the Patriots ferocious 3-4 Defense this season. He is also very versatile, playing 5 different positions in the same game several times for Baltimore last season. Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison will both return for another campaign in full health. And finally another side note, Laurence Maroney is finally going to get 30+ touches a game, and after last season I am salivating just thinking about it.

Prediction: 14-2

New York Jets:

The question is this for the Jets in 2007. When will Chad Pennington suffer his season ending injury? Without Pennington I don’t see the Jets going very far with Kellen Clemens at the helm. Who is Clemens you ask? Your guess is as good as mine.

Let’s not completely overlook the Jets. They had a great year in 2006. They have a very formidable defense with stars like Jonathon Vilma, Shaun Ellis, and Dewayne Robertson. Their receivers are quick, and possess great hands. They can really make things happen after the catch the ball. Laverneus Coles was back to his old tricks last season, and Jericho Cotchery burst onto the scene, showing all that he is worthy of a starting job on most NFL teams. Running Back is another big question mark for the Jets, as Curtis Martin has announced his retirement. Will Thomas Jones coming over from the Bears, be able to have the kind of season he had in 2006? The team ranked 20th in Rushing Offense last year, as their offensive line was not stellar, so I personally wouldn’t count on a Pro Bowl year from Jones. One things for sure you can’t fall asleep on the Jets, they may not “Wow” you every time they take the field but Eric Mangini did a lot in his first season, and I expect another playoff appearance from them in 2007.

Prediction: 10-6

Miami Dolphins:

What is this team’s obsession with bringing in aging, injury prone, washed up Quarterbacks? The Daunte Culpepper incident of 2006 was apparently just the beginning. Anytime you have to turn to Joey Harrington to “turn the season around” you really cant like your chances. The Dolphins were a miserable team to watch last year, and I don’t see it getting much better for the Fish this season. They brought in Trent Green from the Chiefs, who really made a name for himself last year. But after his injury he just didn’t look the same. It could be argued that Green was the reason the Chiefs didn’t advance in the Divisional round against the Colts, and that they should have stuck with replacement Damon Huard. Another big question that could be asked to the Dolphins scouts and management is “WHY on Earth did you draft Ted Ginn, Jr. with the 10th overall pick????” I don’t think that made any sense to very many people, as he won’t be starting and whats more funny is, he still hasn’t signed or reported to camp! Well done Wayne Huizenga! Look for another monotonous season for the Fins.

Prediction: 7-9 (being generous)

Buffalo Bills:

I can’t wait to see what kind of campaign JP Losssssman can put together this year. I wonder if he can set the single season interception record, only time will tell. The one bright spot however is that at this point it looks like they are going to let rookie Marshawn Lynch carry most of the load at tailback which could really provide a spark. But in order to run the ball effectively they need to throw the ball effectively. And when JP isn’t getting picked off who is he going to throw the ball too. Peerless price is nothing without Eric Moulds. We saw that when he was traded to Atlanta and again after returning to the Bills last season. And lets be honest, Lee Evans is no Eric Moulds. I don’t really know what else to say about this team. They are a walking advertisement for mediocrity. Look for a big season out of Paul Posluszny however; this former Nittany Lion can really get after it. I saw him live twice in college and he comes as advertised. He is fearless, and a leader, but much too young I think to solidify an aging defense that won’t have much to play for except pride by Week 5.

Prediction: 5-11

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