RaiderRamble.com brings you the start of our NFL-wide prediction series for each division, let’s start with the AFC East.
Welcome to the first of our eight-part series as we take a look at each division in the NFL. The Raider Ramble will dive in and review the highlights of each division’s offseason moves as well as give our predictions for who we think will win each division and why. So let’s get underway as we start with the defending Super Bowl champions’ very own backyard.
Notable Offseason Moves
The Buffalo Bills put an ax to the Ryan brothers coaching stint in and were able to retain star quarterback Tyrod Taylor after rumors spread that he would somehow be shown his way out of town. Also, the Bills were able to snag a notable name in NFL free agency in safety Micah Hyde originally from the Green Bay Packers.
The New York Jets brought in quarterback Josh McCown from the Cleveland Browns to try and add a veteran presence at the lead position on the offensive side of the ball. The Jets also let highly touted corner Darrelle Revis hit the open market after a dismal showing last season for the Jets.
Miami Dolphins traded for tight end Julius Thomas to try and bolster the Dolphins passing attack that ranked 26th in the league according to ESPN.com. Also, the Dolphins were able to resign big name receiver Kenny Stills to a four-year deal.
The New England Patriots perhaps made the most offseason moves of any team in the NFL starting with swiping standout corner Stephon Gilmore from their rival in Buffalo. They also added yet another speedy receiver in Brandin Cooks for Tom Brady to play catch with and traded for tight end Dwayne Allen. However, the Patriots did lose some pieces as well, big names like tight end Martellus Bennett, defensive lineman Chris Long, and running back LeGarrette Blount were all lost to free agency.
Prediction Round Table
- Micah Schneidermann: New England Patriots
One day I will pick someone other than the Patriots to win the AFC East, but that’s not going to be today. No other team in this division did enough during the offseason to challenge them. The Bills and Dolphins could give them some run again, but the Jets will probably be at the bottom of the league this season. The only way someone can overthrow the defending champs is if Father Time catches up to the seemingly ageless Brady or if Tyrod Taylor takes his game to the next level.
- Mario Tovar: New England Patriots
As much as it pains the “fan” part of me to pick the Patriots for anything; the fact is, they’re not going anywhere. Yes, the losses on the defensive side of the ball will sting; especially Chris Long. In spite of this, coach Belichick will once again make up for any losses with the development of a defense that will simply have “the next man up.” Tyrod Taylor will continue to develop into a solid quarterback but not quite ready to dethrone the champs. And the Jets and Dolphins? Not much of a threat there at the moment barring any significant injury to the Patriots.
- Alex Varallo (@rufio_187 on Twitter & New York Jets Web): New England Patriots
My prediction of the AFC East in 2017 will be nothing outside the norm as the New England Patriots will prevail once again as the best team in the AFC East and the NFL. They have made solid trades, re-signed multiple in-house players and came away with a very nice draft even with the limited amount of picks. Unless this team happened to lose Tom Brady, I see them having a stellar season with a 14-2 record.
The Buffalo Bills will have a rocky road this year with a 6-10 record. Having lost two of their top passing targets in Marquis Goodwin and Robert Woods, so it’s undetermined how productive the passing game will be. Sammy Watkins will have to avoid the injury table and rely on rookie Zay Jones and tight end Charles Clay. LeSean McCoy is a great running back, but he isn’t getting any younger. The Bills also lost one of their best defensive backs to the Patriots, Stephon Gilmore. Much like the Jets, the Bills will have to rely on younger players to progress quickly and hope their defense keeps them in games.
Even though the Miami Dolphins made the playoffs last year, I think they will regress to 6-10 mainly because of the strength of schedule; Dolphins fans may look to golfing on Sundays come December. Last will be the New York Jets at 5-11. It’s clear that they’re in full rebuild mode and are embracing the youth movement. The Jets have one of the oldest quarterbacks in the league in Josh McCown and the most inexperienced with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. They may surprise the fans with a few upsets and raise the win total to 6 or 7 games, but at this point, there’s way too much unknown.