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NFL Pro Football 2010 AFC East Preview

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Fearless Rick's 2010 NFL Preview - AFC EAST

Rick Gagliano | 8/8/2010

AFC EAST - Predicted order of finish and (predicted record)

New England Patriots 2009 record: (10-6) Projected 2010 record: (11-5)

Predicted finish: 1st AFC East

Head Coach: Bill Belichick

Departed: DE Adalius Thomas; TE Ben Watson; TE Chris Baker; DL Jarvis Green; CB Shawn Springs

Incoming: WR Torry Holt; TE Alge Crumpler; DE/DT Damione Lewis, NT Gerard Warren; LB Marques Murrell; rookie CB Devin McCourty; rookie TE Rob Gronkowski, rookie P Zoltan Mesko; rookie LB Brandon Spikes; rookie WR Taylor Price; rookie DE Jermaine Cunningham

Strengths: Passing game. It all starts with QB Tom Brady, and usually ends up in the hands of Randy Moss or Wes Welker. The addition of Torry Holt can only help. Brady also will find Alge Crumpler open often this season, especially when the Pats spread the field, which is most of the time.

Weaknesses: Linebackers. These two groups underperformed in 2009, but only slightly. The 3-4 defense shouldn't allow as many rushing yards as it did last season (110.5), but there aren't any real playmakers in the group. Maybe draft pick Brandon Spikes will help in that regard. Rushing. The Patriots have a slew of running backs, but no game-changers, and rushed for only 120 ypg in 2009, about the middle of the pack. That won't change much in 2010, unless the Patriots change their entire offense - not likely.

Key Games: 9/12 @ Cincinnati. The Patriots were just 2-6 on the road last year and starting off the season with a road win would give them momentum. 12/12 @ Chicago; 12/19 vs. Green Bay; 12/26 @ Buffalo; 1/2 vs. Miami. The final four games of the regular season include three which the Pats should win, plus getting the Packers in New England, so, if they've not clinched the division by week 13, they should have little trouble down the stretch.

What if?: Wes Welker recovers from his ACL injury and plays all season? The Patriots would be in great shape should Welker come back 100%. His absence was one of the major reasons the Patriots were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round - by Baltimore - in 2009. The speedy slot receiver allows the Patriots to spread the field and open up the potent passing attack.

New York Jets 2009 record: (9-7) Projected 2010 record: (10-6)

Predicted finish: 2nd, AFC East, Wild Card

Head Coach: Rex Ryan

Departed: CB Donald Strickland; G Alan Faneca; K Jay Feely; NT Howard Green; CB Lito Sheppard; RB Leon Washington; RB Thomas Jones; FS Kerry Rhodes

Incoming: rookie RB Joe McKnight; rookie FB John Conner; RB LaDainian Tomlinson; WR Santonio Holmes; K Nick Folk; DE Jason Taylor; LB Lance Laury; CB Antonio Cromartie; rookie CB Kyle Wilson; rookie G Vladimir Ducasse

Strengths: Defense. The best in the NFL in 2009 - 14.8 ppg, 252.3 ypg, both tops in the league - Rex Ryan has created a monster that can turn the best offensive schemes into a pile of mashed bodies. Especially effective against passing offenses (153.7 ypg, easily the best in the league), they may be even better this year with the addition of Antonio Cromartie. Patient Offense. The Jets' strategy last season was to let the defense win games and allow the offense to grind, which worked very well, especially in the later stages of the season, when they won five of their last six. That's probably going to continue this year with Tomlinson and rooke Joe McKnight replacing Thomas Jones and Leon Washington.

Weaknesses: Passing. Mark Sanchez was solid as a rookie and unflappable in the pocket, but the Jets weren't able to stage late rallies often enough when behind, due mostly to Sanchez's inexperience and the lack of a deep threat. Santonio Holmes may help to some degree in 2010, but it's still a concern.

Key Games: 9/13 vs. Baltimore; 9/19 vs. New England. Two home games to start the season against AFC playoff teams is a real test, especially with the first on on a Monday night. If the Jets can win one of these two, they will be in fine shape. Losing both puts them in an immediate hole. 10/13 vs. Green Bay. Coming off the bye week, at least they're home again. 12/26 @ Chicago; 1/2 vs. Buffalo. If the Jets need wins to get into the playoffs, these final two games are winnable.

What if?: Mark Sanchez continues to improve at quarterback? That's to be expected in the Jets' scheme. They came within one game of reaching the Super Bowl with Sanchez as a rookie, so the next step is to go all the way to the big finish. Sanchez should improve, as his rookie marks - 53.8 completion percentage, 12 TDs, 20 INTs - weren't all that great.

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Miami DolphinsMiami Dolphins 2009 record: (7-9) Projected 2010 record: (8-8)

Predicted finish: 3rd AFC East

Head Coach: Tony Sparano

Departed: FS Gibril Wilson; DE Jason Taylor; WR Ted Ginn Jr.; NT Jason Ferguson; G Justin Smiley; LB Akin Ayodele; LB Joey Porter; LB Reggie Torbor; CB Nate Jones

Incoming: LB Karlos Dansby; WR Brandon Marshall; rookie LB Koa Misi; rookie LB A.J. Edds; rookie DT Jared Odrick; rookie G John Jerry; rookie S Reshad Jones; rookie CB Nolan Carroll; G Richie Incognito; DT Marques Douglas; LB Tim Dobbins; G Cory Procter

Strengths: Wildcat offense/rushing. Dolphin brain-trust Parcells and Sparano brought the "wildcat" offense to the NFL and the rest of the league is still playing catch-up. With Ronnie Brown and/or Ricky Williams in the backfield, the Dolphins were 4th in the league in rushing yards in 2009. Having strong-armed Chad Henne as the regular starter in 2010, will only help.

Weaknesses: Defense. Teams could pick their poison against Miami in 2009, employing their strength in either rushing or passing, because the Dolphins were equally inept against either. Miami allowed 24.4 ppg last year, near the dregs of the league, and have made some additions via free agency and the draft to address those issues, though the defense will be a work-in-progress throughout the season.

Key Games: 9/19 @ Minnesota; 9/26 vs. NY Jets; 10/4 vs. New England; 10/17 @ Green Bay. These are the 2nd through 5th games of the season for the Dolphins, with a bye after the New England game. If Miami can manage to win two of these, it will be a major accomplishment. The road games against the Vikings and Packers are killers, and the two home games against conference foes are both at night, Sunday, vs. the Jets, Monday. vs. the Patriots.

What if?: Chad Henne finds comfort throwing to Brandon Marshall? Henne to Marshall could become the new Montana to Rice combination in the NFL. Henne has the arm strength to deliver deep routes and Marshall is largely impossible to cover one-on-one. If Miami gets this combo going along with the wildcat, look for some high-scoring affairs in the Sunshine State.

Buffalo Bills2009 record: (6-10) Projected 2010 record: (4-12)

Predicted finish: 4th AFC East

Head Coach: Chan Gailey

Departed: DE Ryan Denney; OT Jonathan Scott; WR Terrell Owens; TE Derek Fine; G Richie Incognito; WR Josh Reed; SS John Wendling

Incoming: LB Reggie Torbor; DT Dwan Edwards; OT Cornell Green; LB Andra Davis; rookie RB C.J. Spiller; rookie LB Arthur Moats; rookie NT Torell Troup; rookie DE Alex Carrington; rookie WR Marcus Easley; rookie LB Danny Batten; rookie QB Levi Brown

Strengths: Rushing. About the only thing that works on either side of the ball and that should get a boost with C.J. Spiller, the steal of the draft. No TO. Getting rid of Terrell Owens after just one season is a great move. He's simply a distraction and a side-show.

Weaknesses: Quarterback. Take your pick from Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm, and there's the Bills' season in a nutshell. Fans wanted the Bills to take a QB in the draft, and they did, but they waited until the 7th round to take Levi Brown from Troy, not exactly what was needed. Buffalo will struggle until they figure out their need for a solid starter behind center. New Coaching Staff. The Bills are a model of inconsistency when it comes to head coaches. Chan Gailey probably isn't the answer.

Key Games: 9/19 @ Green Bay; 9/26 @ New England; 10/3 vs. NY Jets. The question isn't whether or not the Bills will lose these games, but by how much. They simply don't match up well, though they did manage a win over the Jets last year.

What if?: The Bills are 0-5 or 1-4 going into their bye week? It will surprise nobody. The Bills' management continues to be content with mediocrity, which probably won't change until after owner Ralph Wilson passes on, and he'll turn 92 in October, so there's no telling when that might happen. The Bills will be one of just a few franchises not to make the playoffs for the entire first decade of the 21st century.


Copyright 2010, 2010, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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