2017 AFC East Preview

State of the AFC East

Let’s be honest, this division sucks. While the Patriots dominance over the division (14 out of 17 division titles under Belichick) is admirable, it’s pretty lame knowing year in and year out what to expect. No telling how much of a push Miami can really make towards a division title. The schedule will be a little tougher this season and the offense is inconsistent all around. The Bills and Jets are just a mess so they’ll be eliminated soon enough.

(Parenthesis denotes On The 50 Yard Line preseason Power Rankings

1. New England Patriots (#1)

2016 Record: 14-2 (Won Super Bowl LI)

Usually after teams win the Super Bowl, they tend to lose guys due to free agency. Somehow the Patriots managed to lose a few guys, but do even more damage in free agency but adding some damn good players.

Key Additions: Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen, Stephon Gilmore, Mike Gillislee

Key Losses: Martellus Bennett, LeGarrette Blount, Logan Ryan, Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard

Don’t expect anybody to seriously threaten the Patriots annual reign over the AFC East.

Storylines

  • The Patriots scored 19 rushing touchdowns in 2016. 18 of those touchdowns came from Blount. His 1,161 rushing yards were the most by a Patriots running back since Stevan Ridley in 2012. We’ve seen the Patriots offense flourish in seasons where the leading rusher had less than 500 rushing yards. The only Patriots running back under Belichick to carry the ball more than Blount’s 299 attempts was Corey Dillon in 2004 with 345. Their will probably be a running back by committee approach and I doubt they sniff 19 touchdowns.
  • Will Father Time kick Tom Brady’s ass this season?

2. Miami Dolphins (#17)

2016 Record: 10-6 (Loss Wild Card)

Under first year head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphins were able to reach the playoffs for the first time in damn near a decade. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a season ending knee injury late last year so he didn’t even play in the playoff game. He also elected not to have surgery which came back and bit him in the ass since he suffered a non contact knee injury during training camp which will cost him his entire 2017 season. Jay Cutler was signed to become the starting QB, in part due to his familiarity to Gase’s offensive system (Gase was the offensive coordinator in Chicago and Cutler played under him).

Key Additions: Jay Cutler, Julius Thomas, Lawrence Timmons, Raekwon McMillian (out for season), Charles Harris, TJ McDonald, Nate Allen

Key Losses: Branden Albert, Mario Williams

Storylines

  • How will the loss of Ryan Tannehill affect this passing offense? When Matt Moore took over for Tannehill last season, there wasn’t much of an upgrade or fall off in the passing offense. Now in 2017, how will Cutler do? He’s 34 and coming off a season ending shoulder surgery in 2016. There won’t be much of a drop off so it stands to question what will Cutler’s offensive numbers look like? Tannehill posted a 19:12 TD:INT ratio, completed 67% of his passes and threw for almost 3,000 yards in 13 games. With Landry to lean on, there’s argument for Cutler to have a career-year. Right now the O/U on Cutler passing TD’s is 22.5 and even with all the weapons on the Dolphins offense, I’d take the under. Can’t even guarantee that Cutler will play 16 games this seasons.
  • The run offense was very boom or bust last year for a couple different reasons. Ajayi ran for 1,272 yards last year but 735 of those yards came from just 4 games. There were 7 games last year (including the playoffs) in which Ajayi had a YPC (yards per carry) average that was less than 4 and out of that 7 games, 6 of those he had at least 13 carries. The offensive line can take blame as well since the Dolphins ranked near the bottom (30th) in the league in tackles for loss percentage.
  • Can the offense stop turning the ball over?
  • Injuries killed the Dolphins last year, but this defense has to improve. Especially the run defense. 140 rushing yards allowed per game? That’s ridiculous.
  • Speaking of injuries, injuries are already decimating this team.

3. Buffalo Bills (#26)

2016 Record: 7-9 (Missed Playoffs)

Almost halfway into the 2016 NFL season, the Bills were 5-2. Everything was clicking and this team looked playoff bound. Well they would go on to only win 2 more games for the rest of the season. Rex Ryan was fired and the replaced by former Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Former GM Doug Whaley was fired right after the NFL Draft. The team didn’t play Tyrod Taylor week 17 to avoid giving him a bonus. They then made Taylor take a payout to stay with the team (something I said he never should’ve done) just for them to trade away Sammy Watkins. Anquan Boldin signed with the Bills towards the end of the summer then retired a few weeks later.

Nobody talks about it much, but the Bills are and have been terribly dysfunctional for years. It’s clear

Key Additions: Anquan Boldin, Jordan Matthews, Patrick DiMarco, Zay Jones, Gerald Hodges, Micah Hyde, Tre’Davious White, Andre Holmes, Mike Tolbert

Key Losses: Anquan Boldin, Sammy Watkins, Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Mike Gillislee, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin

Storylines

  • The passing game already struggled in 2016 and it will probably be worse in 2017. Not that it was all on him, but can Tyrod improve in the passing game?
  • Jordan Matthews is the best wide receiver heading into the season and that says a lot.
  • Who will step up as the #2 back behind McCoy?
  • What’s going on at corner?

4. New York Jets (#32)

2016 Record: 5-11 (Missed Playoffs)

We can keep this short and simple. The Jets are in contention for worst roster in the league. It’s pretty clear 2017 is going to be a tank job for this team. It still blows my mind that this team drafted Bryce Petty a couple years ago, drafted Christian Hackenburg in the second round last season AND signed Josh McCown this past offseason. Does that sound like a team that wants to win? Todd Bowles is far from a great coach but his entire coaching tenure in NY can be summed up by shitty Quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw them out of the playoffs in 2015. He then preceded to hold out for a new contract and once he got the contract, played even worse football and was eventually benched ONLY to call the team out for not supporting him. They didn’t draft anybody this year despite their being better options available not to mention Colin Kaepernick is still available. Safe to say this will be his last season in New York.

The Jets will be bad, but this 0-16 shit is nonsense.

Key Additions: Kelvin Beachum, Josh McCown, Morris Claiborne, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye

Key Losses: Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Mangold, David Harris,

Storylines

  • Will Todd Bowles survive the season? I mean shit, McCown is your quarterback? Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are both gone and Quincy Enunwa is out for the season. Is Matt Forte still your lead back? Yikes man.
  • What Muhammad Wilkerson will see this year? Any chance Sheldon Richardson will really be worth the headache?

2017 Standing’s Prediction

1. New England Patriots (13-3)

2. Miami Dolphins (9-7)

3. Buffalo Bills (6-10)

4. New York Jets (3-13)

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