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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - AFC East

Rick Gagliano | August 1, 2011

AFC East

New York Jets

2010 record: 11-5

Predicted finish: 12-4

Head Coach: Rex Ryan

Departed: WR/QB Brad Smith, QB Mark Brunell, DT Vernon Gholston, DE Shaun Ellis, WR Braylon Edwards, QB Kevin O'Connell, CB Drew Coleman, QB Kellen Clemens, UFA P Steve Weatherford

Incoming: WR Derrick Mason, WR Plaxico Burress, CB Donald Strickland, P Chris Bryan; Rookies: DE Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), WR Jeremy Kerley (TCU), RB Bilal Powell (Louisville), QB Greg McElroy (Alabama), WR Scotty McNight (Colorado).

Strengths: A more mature QB in Mark Sanchez, who enters his third season as the Jets' signal-caller will benefit the Jets greatly, especially with the addition of Plaxico Burress at one receiver spot, with Santonio Holmes on the other side.

The best defense in the AFC, possibly, after allowing just 19 points and 291.5 yards per game in 2010. The secondary is rivaled only by that of the Eagles.

Weaknesses: The rushing attack should improve with the addition of Bilal Powell out of Louisville, even though the Jets finished 4th in the league in ground yards gained in 2010 at 148.4 ypg.

Key Games: Sun, Sept. 25 at Oakland, Sun, Oct. 2 at Baltimore, Sun, Oct. 9 at New England. Three straight road games in weeks 3, 4 and 5, culminating with a matchup with the Patriots, the Jets' main rival in the division.

What if?: The Jets' schedule is too demanding?

In addition to playing New England twice, the Jets get all four NFC East opponents, plus Kansas City, San Diego and Baltimore. It's one of the toughest schedles in the league, but the Jets should be good enough to still make the playoffs and possibly win the division.

New England Patriots

2010 record: 14-2

Predicted finish: 10-6

Head Coach: Bill Belichick

Departed: LB Tully Banta-Cain, S Brandon McGowan, S Jarrad Page, PK Shayne Graham, DL Ty Warren, LB Ryan Coulson, TE Alge Crumpler, OT Nick Kaczur, CB Tony Carter, DT Marcus Stroud

Incoming: DT Albert Haynesworth, WR Chad Ochocinco, DE Andre Carter, DE Shaun Ellis, DE Mark Anderson, DL Steve Williams; Rookies: QB Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), G Marcus Cannon (TCU), RB Stevan Ridley (LSU), CB Malcolm Williams (TCU), TE Lee Smith (Marshall), DE Markell Carter (Central Arkansas).

Strengths: The Patriots have one of the best coaching staffs in the league, starting with mastermid Belichick, which filters down to the players through solid conditioning and game preparation. Tom Brady is one of the top three QBs in the league and maybe the best of all.

Weaknesses: Lack of a complete secondary and a shutdown cornerback hurt the Patriots in 2010, when they stumbled in at #30 in pass defense, allowing an un-Patriotic 258.5 yards per outing. To alleviate the condition in the secondary, New England has brought in about a dozen defensive linemen, in an effort to upgrade the pass rush.

Key Games: Sun, Sept. 18 vs San Diego, Sun, Oct 9 vs NY Jets, Sun Oct. 30 Pittsburgh (after bye week), Sun, Nov 13 at NY Jets, Sun, Nov 27 at Philadelphia, Sun Dec 4 vs Indianapolis.

What if?: The secondary doesn't improve?

The Patriots will just have to score five TDs a game and outscore the opposition. That seems, at least to be part of the plan. The Pats have their eyes on another Super Bowl appearance but their pass defense needs some serious upgrading.

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Looking for the best NFL Handicapper? Good luck. Most of them suck.

Miami Dolphins

2010 record: 7-9

Predicted finish: 8-8

Head Coach: Tony Sparano

Departed: QB Tyler Thigpen, LB Channing Crowder, RB Ronnie Brown, RB Ricky Williams

Incoming: RB Reggie Bush, LB Jason Trusnik, OT Ray Willis, QB Kevin O'Connell, OT Marc Colombo, DE-OLB Jason Taylor, DT Ronald Fields, LB Kevin Burnett, QB Matt Moore; Rookies: C Mike Pouncey (Florida), FB Charles Clay (Tulsa), CB Jimmy Wilson (Montana), NT Frank Kearse (Alabama A&M), RB Daniel Thomas (Kansas State), WR/PR/KR Clyde Gates (Abilene Christian).

Strengths: Defense. The Dolphins were stout defensively in 2010, and have added some heft to the line and linebacking corps. Miami was 8th overall in pass defense (209.3 ypg) and could be even better this season.

Weaknesses: Quarterback. There's no mystery why the Dolphins have four QBs in camp. Chad Henne left a lot to be desired in 2010, sacked 30 times and throwing 19 INTs to 15 TDs. Matt Moore may be the answer, but that's not much of an improvement. Lack of a solid starting QB may make life miserable in Miami.

Key Games: Divisional games against the Jets and Patriots. If the Dolphins can win just one of those four, they should manage a .500 season.

What if?: Reggie Bush is not the answer to replacing Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams?

Well, he won't be. Brown was the do-it-all guy who ran the wildcat offense, while Williams was more the power back. Bush can take snaps directly from center, but he doesn't exactly run over people. Miami will more than likely struggle on offense this season, at least through the first half of the schedule.

Buffalo Bills

2010 record: 4-12

Predicted finish: 4-12

Head Coach: Chan Gailey

Departed: LB Paul Posluszny, QB Trent Edwards, TE Jonathan Stupar, S Donte Whitner.

Incoming: QB Tyler Thigpen, WR/QB Brad Smith, WR Buster Davis, LB Nick Barnett; Rookies: DT Marcell Dareus (Alabama), SS Da'Norris Searcy (North Carolina), RB Johnny White (North Carolina), CB Aaron Williams (Texas), NT Michael Jasper (Bethel), CB Justin Rogers (Richmond).

Strengths: Not many to speak of since the Bills ranked near the bottom in all offensive and defensive categories. One plus is speed on offense, which translated, at times in 2010, to big plays.

Weaknesses: No quarterback, no defense.

Key Games: None of them or all of them.

What if?: Brian Brohm gets signed and gets the starting nod over Ryan Fitzpatrick?

Could be the best thing to happen in Buffalo since it stopped snowing. Brohm was lights out at Louisville in college, but hasn't had much playing time with the Bills. Fans in Buffalo have been screaming for the Bills to draft a solid quarterback, but they keep passing them up on draft day.

Copyright 2011, 2012, 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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