Football season is near; will the AFC East be one of the toughest divisions or will they just have one good team this year? Here’s what some of the writers here at “Sports Page 1 Elite” think.
1. New England Patriots
Peter Wiseman’s prediction. 11-5 division champions.
You have to go all the way back to 2009 for the last time the Patriots didn’t win at least twelve games during the regular season. Not having Tom Brady for 4 games this year may set them back a little bit but as long as they have the “Hoodie,” they should easily remain the top team in this division and possibly the entire conference. Peter Wiseman
J.Russell Zinn’s prediction. 9-7. 2nd in division. Miss the playoffs.
“They are who we thought they were. The champs are the champs until someone beats them. They may struggle more thanthey are used to, 2-2 is the best case scenario for the start of the season and Tom Brady is 39 and not getting any younger. They still have the best tight end to ever play and the evil genius at coach though so don’t expect them to fade away.”….was what I originally wrote. The thing was this feeling in my gut wouldn’t go away. This feeling that only 2 qbs ever (Brett Favre and Warren Moon) have played at a high level at 39 years old. Tom Brady’s body, like Mannings last year, will overnight just give out at some point. Is this the year? Something tells me it is.
Add in that a 2-2 start is best case scenario, 1-3 is more likely. Then the fact Gronk might be the best tight end to ever step on a football field but he has only played every game in one season ever. Odds are he will miss time this year. Finally karma. The Patriots have been amazingly lucky for forever. They are due for some bad bounces and injuries. We all know one of these years the Pats will suffer and need to reload. That Brady’s story book career will come to an end. Will this be the year? I’m going out on a limb and saying yes. J.Russell Zinn
Ladonna Williams prediction. 11-5 The division winner
Well, the first 4 games will look a little different for the Patriots this season. Since, Brady will be suspended during that time the team will be led by Jimmy Garoppolo. According to the NFL the Patriots have the ninth hardest schedule in the NFL. They will have the same weapons on offense, but with the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett, wide receiver Nate Washington and running back Donald Brown. They also got some other players for their offense. My prediction for the Patriots this season; they will go 11-5. I know Garopppolo is good, but I am not for sure if he will win more than two games as a starter. Ladonna Williams
Kip’s prediction. 11-5 Division Champs
The big question with the Patriots is if Jimmy Garoppolo can actually keep them at .500 or above through the first four games. If he can do that, then Brady can lead the Patriots to the Playoffs and win the division once again. The Patriots first four games: at Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans, Bills. The last three games are all winnable for the Patriots, even without Brady under center. I loved the trade to get Martellus Bennett, as it serves as a flashback to the Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez days. We know how much Bill Belichick loves to use his tight ends, so having arguably two in the top-10, is something that even he can smile about.
My biggest concern with this team is their pass-rush. Chandler Jones was coming off a career year in which he posted 12.5 sacks, and the Patriots traded him away for one of the most injury-prone offensive lineman in Johnathan Cooper, while also getting a late-second round pick. Adding Terrance Knighton should give them a solid push up front, but unless Jabaal Sheard can really step up as an elite, double-digit, edge-rusher, than I can’t see the Patriots posting more than 35 sacks. The Patriots will definitely win the AFC East, but you have to wonder how dominant they will be without a solid pass-rush and their starting quarterback for four games. Kip
Scott Brown’s prediction. 9-7. Division Champs
At best, they start the season 1-3 (I think it will be worse than that) without Tom Brady due to his suspension. After he returns to the team they will be winning a lot of games, but will play to the Bengals, Steelers and Seahawks. Plus, they have to play the Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos. Scott Brown
Brian Jones’s prediction. 12-4 division champs.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Tom Brady is gone for 4 games but there’s going to be little to no drop off. Bill Belichick will have the Pats ready to go, only suffering losses to Arizona and Houston to open the season. Brady returns in Week 5, all that is right will be restored and New England wins their 13th division title under Brady and Belichick. Brian Jones
Smitty’s prediction. 11-5 division champs.
The Patriots are racing against Father Time and the fact that their commander and chief Tom Brady will sit out the first 4 games makes this year’s task a bit tougher. This division may be the toughest in the NFL this season mainly because it’s a bit wide open with the loss of Brady. The Patriots back up quarterback has been preparing for over a year now and may fit right into Belichick’s scheme, but will the other players respond to him collectively? They still have the main pieces in place, so look for them to win this division again just not run away like in the past. Smitty
2. New York Jets.
Ladonna Williams’s prediction. 9-7 wild card playoff team. 2nd in division.
At the beginning of this year I didn’t know if they would be able to get in the playoffs just because Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t signed. Now, that he is on board, I have more hope for the team. He has a great relationship with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. They also added Matt Forte to their running back game. They should be able to make it; despite the hard schedule they have to face. They will go 9-7 this season. Ladonna Williams
J.Russell Zinn’s prediction. 10-6. Division Champions.
The Jets are good. They have a great wide receiver corp, an exceptional defense and a great head coach. They, like the rest of the afc east, play both the nfc west and the afc north. That’s a murderers row. I have a feeling that we are going to see some Fitzmagic this season. Their schedule will hold them back from a bye, but I wouldn’t want to play them in the playoffs. J.Russell Zinn
Smitty’s prediction. 10-6. 2nd in division
Second year coach Todd Bowles has put together quite an assortment of talent since his arrival last season and now all he has to do is put it all together. Bowles who is known for his high IQ on the defensive side of the ball, will have to keep the ball moving on offense if the Jets are to overtake the Pats for the crown in the East. Ryan Fitzpatrick finally has returned to the practice field and gives the team another realistic shot at making the playoffs. They picked up Matt Forte to give them some veteran leadership in the backfield and give Marshall and Decker some help underneath in the receiving department. Look for New York to stay strong defensively and keep the Patriots on their heels the entire season but come up a close second. Smitty
Brian Jones prediction. 8-8. 2nd in division
Ryan Fitzpatrick is back to build off his record-setting 2015 season but with a harder schedule that’s top-heavy with playoff and Super Bowl contenders, getting over the hump this season doesn’t seem possible. Oh, and they don’t have the advantage Miami and Buffalo have by facing the Patriots without Tom Brady under center. Brian
Scott Browns prediction. 7-9. 3rd in the division.
Matt Forte is a good pick up, but their quarterback situation is in shambles and I wonder how Mohamed Wilkerson will be after breaking his leg last season. Scott Brown
Kip’s prediction. 8-8 second in division
Bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick, however many headaches it caused, was the right move for the franchise. They couldn’t afford to not bring back the player that resurrected Brandon Marshall’s career, as well as his own. The Jets return with a stellar defense, except Sheldon Richardson will miss some time. Although 31 years old, Darrelle Revis is still a Top-5 corner and is still able to shut down the opponent’s best receiver for 60 minutes. Matt Forte was their prized gem of this year’s Free Agency, and he should provide their offense with the versatility out of the backfield that they never really had with Chris Ivory. The only problem is that Forte is 30 years old and will likely start his decline this season.
My other concern with this team is that they don’t have the star power to compete with the Patriots in the AFC East. Don’t’ get me wrong, the Jets have a very well-rounded team, but in the NFL, well-rounded might not even get you to the Playoffs. They face a tough schedule as well. In their first six games, five of them are against playoff teams from last year. At the end of the day, the Jets are a good team, but without a true star on offense, I can’t see them making the Playoffs. Yes, I know that they went 10-6 last season and they added more talent in the offseason, but look at their schedule last year compared to this year and you’ll see why 8-8 is a good prediction for them. Kip
Peter Wiseman’s prediction. 9-7. Second in division
Jets fans waited all summer for their quarterback to re-sign. When he finally did, they were thrilled to death, until they remembered that after all this time, it was still Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fortunately for them, this defense is still one of the best in the league and only getting better and Fitz has two stellar receivers and Matt Forte on the other side of the ball to help him try to make a run at a wild card spot. Peter Wiseman
3. Miami Dolphins.
Brian Jones’s prediction. 6-10. 3rd in division
As the Dolphins begin another rebuilding project on South Beach, fans of the team shouldn’t have high hopes this year. Ryan Tannehill continues to be a project, there’s not much of a running game and the defense has the players but no direction. Get ready for another long season in South Florida. Brian Jones
Peter Wiseman’s prediction. 7-9. 3rd in division
The Phins are loaded with big names on defense, and young players trying to make a name for themselves on offense. Chemistry and health seem to be the main thing holding this team back. I see them taking a small step forward in 2016, but the rest of the league is too strong for them to take a major leap yet. Peter Wiseman
Smitty’s prediction. 8-8. 3rd in division.
Adam Gase has done a job to help develop Ryan Tannehill, take his talents to the next level and get the Dolphins back to the postseason. They have a solid line to give Tannehill the protection he needs to move the ball downfield and make plays. The Dolphins spent money on the defensive side of the squad but got average results as Ndamukong Suh didn’t play to expectations or show the beastly instinct he played with in Detroit. South Florida has to be excited about the stadium upgrades but the team is still a work in progress. They will again hover around.500 in 2016. Smitty
J.Russell Zinn’s prediction. 8-8
This team is awesome on paper. In real life they have a murderers row of a schedule. If Arian Foster can play in more than 10 games they might be better but I trust Foster’s soft tissue as much as I trust Tony Romo’s brittle bones. J.Russell Zinn
Ladonna Williams prediction. 8-8. 3rd in division
The Dolphins whose team also has a hard schedule in the 2016 season will not be as great. They lost their star running back Lamar Miller and added Arian Foster. Foster who is known for having injuries throughout his career, will not help them like they need him too. The overpaid Tannehill needs to be better than mediocre if they want to go better than my prediction of 8-8. Ladonna Williams
Scott Brown’s prediction. 8-8. Second in the division.
Miami strengthened their line and Kiko Alonso will be good in a 4-3 defense but their secondary is still weak. Scott Brown
Kip’s prediction. 6-10. Last in division
Is THIS the year that Ryan Tannehill becomes a Top-10 quarterback. After four years and a huge new contract, his talent is still in doubt. The Dolphins brought in Laremy Tunsil, and he’s slotted as the starting LG. The last few years, the Dolphins have made a huge effort to upgrade their offensive line to give Tannehill more time in the pocket. They brought in Branden Albert a few seasons back and Mike Pouncey is a great center, though not as talented as his brother. Jarvis Landry is emerging as an elite receiver and DeVante Parker is one of the first names out of people’s mouths when you talk about breakout seasons. All of these players give Tannehill and the Dolphins offense no excuse not to win and put 24+ points on the board consistently. I would say that this is the year for the Dolphins, but I feel like I’ve been saying that for a while now and I always end up wrong.
The big question is the secondary. Rookie Xavien Howard is slated to start opposite Byron Maxwell at corner. The fact that Byron Maxwell is the Dolphins top corner should scare fans, but certainly not opposing receivers. Reshad Jones had to stuff the stat sheet almost every game last year, and he may have to improve upon those numbers in order to keep this secondary from being one of the worst in the league. Kip
4. Buffalo Bills.
J.Russell Zinn’s prediction. 7-9. Last in division
I love the Bills fans. I love Rex Ryan. I love their defense and rbs. This was the wrong team for Rex Ryan. This is the wrong year and schedule for the Buffalo bills. Put them in the afc south or nfc east and this is a 11-5 divisional champ. In this division, well Rex Ryan will be fun to watch on fox pregame next year. J.Russell Zinn
Kips prediction. 7-9. 3rd in division
So far, Sammy Watkins has been good, but not great. Watkins was one of the best receivers to come through the draft in the past five years, and eventually, he should live up to his billing. I fully believe that Year 3 is the year for Sammy to break out. As usual, the Bills will boast one of the best front-sevens in the league. The secondary is extremely well-rounded, with second-year corner Ronald Darby expected to make huge strides next year. They retained their entire secondary from last year, save for Leodis McKelvin. The defense is solid, but how will the offense fair?
The one-two punch of LeSean McCoy and Karlos William returns for Year 2, and Tyrod Taylor will come back healthy and will remain the starter under center. After coming off of a decent season, Taylor will still have to prove himself as a reliable starter in the league. The offensive line has some questions but Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, and Eric Wood are some of the best that their positions have to offer. On offense, there is a lot of boom-or-bust potential, and at the end of the season, I can’t see this offense booming. Kip
Brian Jones’s prediction. 5-11. Last I’m division
Rex Ryan was brought in to rebuild the Bills and restore them to their former glory. The rebuild has been slow and the team is nowhere near ready for the postseason. Ryan needs to come through and produce or he could be fired from his 2nd job in 3 years. Looking at the Bills’ roster and schedule for this season it seems Rex may want to have the moving company on standby. Brian Jones
Ladonna Williams’s prediction. 5-11. Last in division
The last place Bills. One reason they won’t do good this year, is because of their head coach Rex Ryan. There will be a lot more blitzing because of Rex, but teams have film on him and his schemes, offenses will be looking for it and the run game will kill their defense …forcing the Bills to throw, but who is their quarterback? The teams inconsistent play on the field will also make them the last place team in the AFC East this year. My prediction for them is 5-11. Ladonna Williams
Smitty’s prediction. 7-9. Last in division
Rex Ryan has been given an ultimatum and that is to make the playoffs or retire and start planning family trips to Disneyland. The Bills played better than their 8-8 record reflected and may have found a star in the making with Tyrod Taylor as he finally got his time in the spotlight and led this team to a .500 Record. Rex brought his brother Rob over to help with the defense but the Bills have holes to fill at corner and safety which may hurt them in their own division. Shady McCoy and Karlos Williams are Taylor’s main weapons in the backfield with Sammy Watkins catching the rock outside the numbers. Buffalo has what it takes offensively but the question mark lies on defense is, can they hold up? To be honest I don’t think so. Smitty
Scott Brown’s prediction. 7-9. Last in the division.
They had to sign Reggie Bush as a back up running back due to a suspension, they have no pass rusher and their top draft picks are already injured . Scott Brown
Peter Wiseman’s prediction. 6-10. Last in division.
Every year the Bills roster gives fans reason for optimism. They have strong players at almost every position on the field. For some reason they never quite get their talent to gel enough to do anything but disappoint. This year the team looks just as strong, but I have a feeling that the Ryan Brothers experiment is about to go terribly wrong. Peter Wiseman