Seven weeks into the NFL season and who would have thought that the difference between worst and first in the AFC East is a mere two games? Year after year the New England Patriots run away with the East, but after watching the Pats first seven games this season might be different.
With two divisional games this weekend the East picture become a little clear, but maybe not the way most thought it would. The Pats lost in OT on the road against the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills stole one down in Miami just before the clouds opened up and it began to pour (delaying the Bills flight back to Orchard Park.)
After seven weeks I’m going to predict how I see the AFC East shaking out, from worst to first.
Miami Dolphins (Currently 3rd at 3-3): After opening the season 3-0, the Dolphins have dropped their last three and Miami’s next two games won’t help out their case much either, playing at New England and home against Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks. Many analysts predicted Miami to finish second in the division behind the Patriots, but after this week’s loss I don’t see it happening.
The Dolphins don’t have enough weapons on offense to be a team that can compete week in and week out. Mike Wallace was brought in, in the off-season to be a playmaker and deep threat in the Phins passing offense this season. However, Wallace’s presence is yet to be seen considering he’s fourth on the team in receiving and only has one touchdown. Luckily for this team they have a good defense that will keep them in games. However I feel that they are still a year or two away. Final Record: 6-10
New York Jets (Currently 2nd at 4-3): Who saw this coming!?! Everyone thought Sexy Rexy was left to die after the front office traded away franchise corner Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead of throwing up the white flag and chalking the season as a loss, Ryan has coached his team to a record over .500 including a couple of impressive wins, one at Atlanta and the other at home this weekend over New England.
What scares me about this team, it that their offense is way too inconsistent. Scoring 13 points or less in three games, including a loss to the 2-4 at home isn’t something to brag about. The Jets have a great defense, but their offense on the other hand isn’t that impressive. The fact that rookie quarterback Geno Smith has more interceptions and fumbles than touchdowns isn’t too good. This is a quarterback that probably should have sat a year or needed better weapons on offense to succeed right off the bat. The Jets have always been known as a team that favors the run and when their leading rusher only averages 60 yards a game, that’s not good enough. Final Record: 8-8
Buffalo Bills (Currently 4th at 3-4): Yeah I get it, I’m a Bills fan and I have them finishing second in the division at the season’s end… I’m probably on something right? Well just give me a second to explain the method to my madness.
First off, the Bills are one of two teams that has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, with the other being Denver. Next, the Bills have been in every game that they’ve lost this season. And by the way, all of this has happened without Buffalo at full strength.
Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore, Marquise Goodwin, Ron Brooks, and EJ Manuel have yet to all suit up together. When Manuel was leading the Bills on offense, that was without his top defensive backs out in Byrd and Gilmore. Without Gilmore (last season’s first round draft pick) and Byrd (a Pro Bowler) leading a set of defensive backs against elite quarterback competition in Tom Brady and Joe Flacco and still playing competitive football is pretty impressive. For now former practice squad quarterback Thad Lewis, with the help of C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, and Stevie Johnson, can keep this team in the playoff hunt until EJ comes back from a knee injury, and not to mention the Bills defense is one scrappy bunch. Watch for Oregon Alum Kiko Alonso to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and $100 Million Man Mario Williams to finally get the the respect deserves. I can see the Week 17 match-up in New England meaning an awful lot! Final Record: 9-7
New England Patriots (Currently 1st at 5-2): Blame whoever and whatever you want but Tom Brady is aging before our eyes. Even the return great Rob Gronkowski wasn’t enough this weekend to beat the Jets. Yeah I get it, Gronk had over 100 yards receiving, but Brady’s pick six was on a pass thrown Gronk’s way.
Look you don’t have to get on my case because I believe the Pats will still win the East, but with a shaky offense and key injuries on defense, a la Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib, this team is hurting real bad. Luckily for New England they have a pretty easy schedule compared to the rest of the division, with only Denver, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh as real threats of defeat to this team. However with loss to the Jets and a bad showing against the Bengals, who knows what can happen. Final Record: 10-6.