NFL Preview Bonanza: AFC East

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Last Season: 11-5

This Season: 11-5, AFC #3

They’re not going to go 16-0, if only because no team has ever gone undefeated without having a running back. At the same time, they get Tom Brady back, and last I checked, that guy’s pretty good. Do I need to keep going? You know this team is good, and nobody else in the division is even close.

Tim’s favorite player in New England Patriot history is…: I mean, it’s kind of hard not to like Troy Brown, right? He was so small! If Troy Brown were white, a lot worse, and with a tendency toward concussions, he would have been Wayne Chrebet.

A Great and Recent Patriot Game: It seems tough to overstate the significance of this game in retrospect, considering the subsequent directions of these two teams.

Wasn’t that fun to watch? No, because I fell asleep at halftime with a severe case of sinusitis. It sucked.

If the Patriots were a character on The Wire, they would be: The Greek. They control everything.

Did you know?: The Patriots officially have the league’s coolest retro logo with Pat the Patriot.

BUFFALO BILLS

Last Season: 7-9

This Season: 7-9

Look, I really want to make the Bills my second surprise team in the AFC and put them in the playoffs, if only because they haven’t made it there all decade. But adding Terrell Owens is kind of negated by trading Jason Peters, and the defense won’t be as good as it was last year. We have to face facts: The entire AFC East benefited hugely from getting to play the NFC West and AFC West last season. This year, the division gets the NFC South and AFC South. That’s a bit of a step up.

Tim’s favorite player in Buffalo Bill history is…: Thanks again, Scott Norwood!

A Great and Recent Bill Game: We’re stretching recent, but A) It’s tough to come up with something for Buffalo that’s been recent; and B) This is one of the most ridiculous games in sports history. Here’s what’s most amazing to me: When you make a comeback, usually you come out of the locker room with a renewed sense of hope. And then Frank Reich threw another interception that was returned for a touchdown.

You know who might be underrated: Is it totally unreasonable to compare Jim Kelly and Peyton Manning? To a football layman, Kelly did a lot of the same at-the-line decisionmaking out of the K-gun that Manning does now, and they’re both great regular season quarterbacks who struggle in the playoffs. Sure, Manning won his Super Bowl against the Bears. But that was against the Bears.

If the Bills were a historical event, they would be: The second Defenestration of Prague. Because they didn’t learn the lesson from the first one (or the other ones, re: T.O.).

Did you know? Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills!

NEW YORK JETS

Last Season: 9-7

This Season: 7-9

I’ll be honest: Mark Sanchez looked a lot better in the last two preseason games than I expected. But he’s still a rookie quarterback that’s going to have to win games on his own (that’s a shot at you, Mr. Flacco) without a 1,600-yard running back (and you, Mr. Ryan). Those guys don’t often succeed. The defense will be good, but it’s unreasonable to expect Rex Ryan to turn it into the Ravens’ D in one season.

Tim’s favorite player in New York Jet history is…: It’s probably wrong for a Giants’ fan to say this, considering he knocked us out of the playoffs and all in 1988, but I always liked Al Toon. I’m pretty sure it’s because his last name is Toon, and he was really good in Tecmo Super Bowl.

Speaking of…: When I was the Jets in Tecmo Super Bowl, I went 15-1 and won the Super Bowl over the 49ers. Dennis Byrd had like 65 sacks on the season, which is pretty pedestrian for me when I play Tecmo.

A Great and Recent Jet Game: The so-called Monday Night Miracle was some nice revenge on the Dolphins for what you’ll see later.

Hey, I have like two minutes to spare, and I really want to see something funny that includes both Chris Berman and Mel Kiper, Jr. Can you hook me up? You’re welcome.

If the Jets were a Simpsons character, they would be: Wendell. They’re that irrelevant. And that nauseating.

Did you know? Josh is a Jets’ fan! But you knew that, because we mentioned it in our introductions.

An uninterrupted and unedited treatise on the Jets, by Josh: 7-9 Tim? Really? The Jets do have one of the toughest schedules in the league: Eight games against teams with ten or more wins in 2008 and their opponents had a combined winning percentage of .566 in 2008. Nonetheless, this is a Jets team I expect to have a winning record and be competitive for the Wild Card (yes, I’m fairly confident the Patriots will win the division with Brady back).

Offensively, Sanchez has looked pretty darn solid in preseason and, contrary to what Tim implies, the Jets do have a strong running game. Last year Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined for well over 1700 yards and, based on the preseason, and it looks like Washington will see even more action, which is definitely a good thing given his explosiveness and playmaking abilities. The Jets have one of the top offensive lines in the game, with everyone returning from last year. I see no reason why the Jets can’t successfully follow a similar formula to the Ravens of last year. Admittedly, though, my biggest offensive concern is at the WR position: Jerricho Cotchery is not a number one receiver and I’m not sure if Chansi Stuckey or David Clowney will successfully step up as a true number two.

Defensively, I think coordinators are very important, and Rex Ryan is one of the best in the NFL. The combination of Calvin Pace (suspended for four games), Bryan Thomas, David Harris, and Bart Scott makes the Jets extremely potent at linebacker. Rhodes and Leonhard make the safety position another one of the Jets’ strong points. My biggest defensive worry is Lito Shephard. He’s very overrated and not a great coverage corner. I see opposing teams picking on him a lot given Revis’s tremendous talent. Nonetheless, I see the Jets matching up to most teams quite well defensively.

On Special Teams, Leon Washington is awesome, but Reggie Hodges should not be punting in the NFL. His low net yardage on punts continually puts the Jets at a field position disadvantage.

In the end, a lot will depend on Sanchez and the viability of the Jets offense. We can’t be turning it over as frequently as we were with Favre last year. If we could run as expected and Sanchez doesn’t turn it over too much, I could see a second-place finish in the AFC East with a Wild Card possibility.

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Last Season: 11-5

This Season: 6-10

This is a question I like posing to people: Say you were abroad for the entirety of the NFL season, and you were like Middle East/Africa abroad sans Internet access, and you picked up a newspaper at the end of the NFL season. What would surprise you the most? In 2008, a season in which Brett Favre returned to play for the New York Jets, the Detroit Lions completed the second winless season in NFL history, Tom Brady lasted a half and the Patriots still went 11-5 but missed the playoffs, Matt Ryan AND Joe Flacco led their teams to the playoffs, and the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl (hosting the NFC Championship game as the No. 4 seed), the answer is clear: Chad Pennington finished second in the MVP balloting. The point is: It’s not happening again. The schedule is tougher, and Pennington hasn’t put together back-to-back good seasons since, well, he played for Marshall.

Tim’s favorite player in Miami Dolphin history is…: Mark Super Duper. Note we don’t even need the quotes around “Super,” because that’s actually his last name now.

A Great and Recent Dolphin Game: YouTube may not remember it, but I do (and so does Wikipedia): Lamar Smith’s 40-carry day as Jay Fiedler and the Dolphins beat the Colts in overtime in a 2000 Wild Card matchup.

A Great and Slightly Less Recent Dolphin Game, Remembered Via Commercial: This one pretty much summarized being a Jet fan in the 90s.

If only…: The Dolphins adopted this helmet.Dolphins_alt_2

If the Dolphins were a collegiate athletic conference, they would be: The Big Ten. Because they benefited more than anyone from a soft schedule last year.

Did you know? Mercury Morris wasn’t actually that good.

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by James Schneider on September 7, 2009 at 5:41 PM

    Ok, the fumble/pass was awesome, but I need to point out that the Raiders downfall didn’t begin until they lost to the Bucs in the Super Bowl. I know i’m not breaking any new ground here, but that super bowl was a crazy game and ruined the entire St. louis franchise. If that game doesn’t happen, Kurt Warner never signs with the giants, and then that comeback last year never happens. Bledsoe regains the starting job in New England, Marc Bulger goes to Buffalo, and greg paulus becomes the franchise Quaterback for the giants.

    Reply

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