- New England Patriots (Last season 13-3)
Key Losses: DE Andre Carter, DE Shaun Ellis, DE Mark Anderson, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB Kevin Faulk
Key Additions: WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Jabar Gaffney, DE Chandler Jones, LB Dont’a Hightower, DE Jonathan Fanene, S Steve Gregory, CB Alfonzo Dennard, Jeff Demps RB
The Patriots remain the class of the AFC east, after a super bowl loss to the Giants it’s back to the drawing board for them. Although I wish I could there is not much I can say to dispute the fact that this is one of the best teams in the AFC let alone the AFC East. But if there is anything I could nit pick, we did see first hand the blueprint for success against the Pats is to get constant pressure on Tom Brady, hence the fact that they need better cohesion out of their offensive line group. This is definitely a focus coming into the 2012 season as well as making major improvements in a 31stranking in total defense from a year ago. They have addressed some of these areas through the draft as well as reloaded on the offensive side in free-agency acquiring Brandon Lloyd and Olympian track runner Jeff Demps for example . The 2012 Pats will be ready for another long run into the playoffs, as long as #12 stays upright and healthy and they have Bill Belichick at the head of their franchise.
- New York Jets (Last Season 8-8)
Key Losses: LaDainian Tomlinson (retired), Plaxico Burres (free agent)
Key Additions: DE Quiton Coples, WR Stephen Hill, S LaRon Landry, Tim Tebow.
A disappointing season for Rex Ryans’ Jets last season after failing to make the playoffs. A change is necessary and Ryan has vowed to tone down the predictions and simply get back to coaching his guys up, not to mention loosing an impressive 100 lbs himself. But Ryan isn’t the only one coming into the season with a new look, the Jets found a way to be the talk of the city once again by trading for QB Tebow to stir up a necessary fire inside starting quarterback Mark Sanchez who’s numbers dropped last season. How will a two quarterback system work? The addition of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is the answer to this question. Taking the league by storm in 2008 while running the “wildcat” offense in Miami, Sparano will look to implement Tim Tebow in that role to add to a vanilla Jets offense which struggled mainly in the red-zone last season. At first it seemed as is this was a failed experiment not scoring an offensive touchdown until the final game of the pre-season.. But suprise! suprise!the Jets explosion of 48 points against the Buffalo Bills, I guess they had us all fooled all along. And we must not forget the Jets still have a top 5 ranking defense with Derelle Revis and company did not fail to impress. If the Jets continue to put touchdowns on the board in the red-zone and play with early leads their defense should and is more then capable of holding up their end, which as a result I believe would make them a dangerous squad and a playoff contender once again.
- Buffalo Bills ( Last Season 6-10)
Key Losses: LT Demetress Bell
Key Additions : DE Mario Williams, CB Stephon Gilmore, DE Mark Anderson, OT Cordy Glenn
Coming off a week 1 loss where they let up 48 points in a loss to the Jets I was tempted to place the Bills 4th in the division. This is a two faced Bills team which is hard to understand. Stemming back to last season, they start off 5-2 with Fitzpatrick posting a passer rating of 97.8 and the team looks a if they are playoff bound. Only to go 1-8 in the final 9 games of the season to finish 6-10. With the big free agent splash signing of Mario Williams , selecting Gilmore in the draft and Mark Anderson from the Patriots this was supposed to be the makings of a new and improved defense which ranked 26th in total defense a year ago. But after a sub par week 1 performance Bills fans are left with a bad taste in their mouth of "these are the same old Bills" once again. Offensively this season starting off with Fred Jackson going down seemed to be salt in the wound, as well as getting down on the scoreboard early forced them to play right into the Jets pass defense. Just maybe we can chalk that one up as a bad game. This team still posses some explosive weapons on offense with Stevie Johnson who is still returning to top form coming off of off season groin surgery and the emergence of CJ Spiller. A sigh of relief with Fred Jackson returns from what seemed to be a season ending injury they should have a foritable dynamic duo in the back field. I believe the Buffalo Bills will be more competitive then they showed week 1 but unfortunately will be on the outside looking in when it comes playoff time. Lets just hope we see some consistency out of these Bills.
- Miami Dolphins Last Season (4-9)
Key Losses: Chad Johnson/ Ochocinco whaterver you want to call him, Vontae Davis (traded to the Colts)
Key Additions : QB Ryan Tannehill, RT Jonathan Martin, CB Richard Marshall
Dolphins finished 4th in the division last season so why should Dolphins keep their heads up you ask? Ryan Tannehill is my answer, in a quarterback driven league I believe the Dolphins made the right choice in selecting this young man and promoting him to their starting quarterback. One immediate issue that comes to mind are his passes that are batted down at the line of scrimmage which was an issue stemming from college and were on display week 1 vs the Texans. At 6’5 220lbs this guy is the prototypical quarterback and can make all the throws so this is an area though where he should be able to improve, especially with more experience and eventually when they get more pieces around him. On a side not, I lost interest in the HBO series “HardKnocks once Ochocinco was released by the team, needless to be said his personality/antics made the show. In addition to releasing Ocho the Dolphins also traded their #1 corner Vontae Davis to the Colts for draft picks. Looking back on the aftermath on the surface this decisions may seem detrimental to the overall talent of the team but it is clear cut the that their is a new sheriff in town, and his name is Joe Philbin On this guys watch, he will get the players he wants to represent the Dolphins and re-transform them into a high class organization, which I assume he took a page from his time with the Green Bay Packers. It may not show in the wins and losses this season but the Dolphins are building a franchise from the ground up. Speaking of ground, Tannehill's best bet this season may be to rely on Reggie Bush and the young backs to take on much of the load. But as I alluded to earlier Dolphins fans, this will take time and patience.