AFC East Predictions for the 2015 Season
Training Camp starts this upcoming Wednesday for rookies on a few teams (Saints, Browns, Ravens) hinting at the close arrival of Fantasy Football and the start of a new football season in College and NFL. Everybody starts at 0-0 causing the majority of fans to be optimistic while there are some who are looking at the upcoming season at a realistic glance.
I will go through each division one-by-one (include their 2015 schedule, notable additions and losses) starting with the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and the rest of the AFC East. I will attempt to predict how they will finish at the bottom.
New England Patriots: PIT, @BUF, JAX, BYE, @DAL, @IND, NYJ, MIA, WAS, @NYG, BUF, @DEN, PHI, @HOU, TEN, @NYJ, @MIA
Notable Addition: CB Bradley Fletcher
Notable Losses: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Brandon Browner, RB Stevan Ridley, RB Shane Vereen, OG Dan Connelly (Retired), DT Vince Wilfork
Miami Dolphins: @WAS, @JAX, BUF, NYJ, BYE, @TEN, HOU, @NE, @BUF, @PHI, DAL, @NYJ, BAL, NYG, @SD, IND, NE
Notable Additions: DT Ndamukong Suh, TE Jordan Cameron, WR Kenny Stills (Trade w/ NO), WR Greg Jennings
Notable Losses: LB Dannell Ellerbe (Trade for Stills), TE Charles Clay, DT Randy Starks
New York Jets: CLE, @IND, PHI, @MIA, BYE, WAS, @NE, @OAK, JAX, BUF, @HOU, MIA, @NYG, TEN, @DAL, NE, @BUF
Notable Additions: HC Todd Bowles, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, WR Brandon Marshall (Trade w/ CHI), RB Stevan Ridley, CB Buster Skrine, OG James Carpenter, S Marcus Gilchrist
Notable Losses: WR Percy Harvin
Buffalo Bills: IND, NE, @MIA, NYG, @TEN, CIN, @JAX, BYE, MIA, @NYJ @NE, @KC, HOU, @PHI, @WAS, DAL, NYJ.
Notable Additions: HC Rex Ryan, OG, Richie Incognito, RB LeSean McCoy (trade with PHI), FB Jerome Felton, WR Percy Harvin,TE Charles Clay, QB Matt Cassel (Trade with MIN).
Notable Losses: LB Kiko Alonso (McCoy Trade), QB Kyle Orton (Retired), RB C.J. Spiller (FA), TE Scott Chandler (Released), S Da'Norris Searcy (FA).
AFC East Results: Pending the 4-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots will have a difficult time repeating as Super Bowl Champions. Offensively, New England will be about the same even after losing Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen at the running back position. As always, the offense will hinge on the health of Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The defense, though, lost some key secondary players in Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis. Adding Browner and Revis last off season gave them a secondary that could handle the postseason. Linebacker Jamie Collins and Safety Devin McCourty will help but it won't be enough with the new faces on defense who will be expected to make an impact. For Brady's suspension, there is no telling for how many games and when it will be announced. I'm going to say he won't be suspended at all favoring New England for the early part of their schedule before their bye week.
The Dolphins made the big splash in free agency with the addition of Ndamukong Suh. They also added some good offensive players in Jordan Cameron, Greg Jennings, and Kenny Stills for some added fire power. There should be optimism around Miami with the potential they present but they have to be more consistent. The first eight weeks of the season, with a bye week in between, offer some pretty winnable games including three key divisional games.
Much like the Dolphins, Coach Bowles and the New York Jets have some winnable games the first eight weeks of the season. I do think they have a chance to get to the playoffs, if not then next year, with the defense they have while also bringing back Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Trading for Brandon Marshall while also drafting Devin Smith will help Quarterback Geno Smith. Overall, the Jets will have something to look forward to in the future. UPDATE: due to the injury to Geno Smith, the Jets' chances at 10 wins (which I gave them originally), has fallen to five.
The Bills are an intriguing team because of Rex Ryan and running back LeSean McCoy. They have a good defensive line and a decent linebacker corps and secondary that Coach Ryan will mess with and improve while he is there. As far as the quarterback situation, I don't think Matt Cassel nor EJ Manuel will be the long term answer. Former Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor was brought in as well and I expect that all three QB's will start at some point in the season. Overall, the AFC East will be interesting to watch from start to finish in 2015.
New England (12-4)* Clinch #1 seed
Miami (10-6)* Clinch playoff berth
New York Jets (5-11)