This was a really interesting division for two reasons, the Pats impressive 14-2 regular season record and the freak parade that is the New York Jets. Rex has made this a rivalry whether the Pats wanted it to be one or not. Ryan NEVER stops talking. Even when he should just shut the hell up, he doesn’t. These two should be right back in the middle of it next September. Another reason is that the two teams below them, the Dolphins and the Bills won’t present a major challenge in the coming year. The Dolphins seem to languish around 500, mainly because they get schizophrenic play from their quarterback Chad Henne. The Bills on the other hand may have found some stability at quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick.
New England Patriots 14-2
The 2010 season wasn’t supposed to be “the year” for the Pats. They were rebuilding their defense and after trading away Whiny Moss early in the season they had to change their offensive style to compliment their personnel. They ended up going 14-2 and trouncing many opponents along the way. If the Pats could have connected on what should have been somewhat easy touchdowns on their first two drives against the Jets in the playoffs, the season might have ended differently. The Pats are one of the best run organizations in football. They don’t hold players past their prime and don’t make it emotional. They are willing to trade almost anybody which is why they have two first round picks in next month NFL Draft.
- An owner and coach that only know how to win.
- One of the best coaches in the league, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
- A first ballot hall of fame quarterback.
- A young defense.
- Two first round picks, six picks (6) in the first three rounds!
- Two all-pro offensive lineman, Matt Light and Logan Mankins about to become free agents.
- Defensive end. No pressure without William Seymour.
- Linebacker. See defensive end.
- Wide receiver. It seemed for a while the team didn’t need Randy Moss. However, there was no go-to guy when the Pats really needed one in the playoffs.
Needs: See weaknesses above. Yes they have some concerns, especially if they were to lose both Light and Mankins, but the Pats are the best at salvaging careers and finding former stars that have a year left who can play a critical role for a season or two. Plus with their arsenal of picks they should be able to bolster their young defense, add a quality offensive lineman and find another wide out to keep Gisele, I mean Tom, happy.
New York Jets 11-5
Where do you start? Shhh, listen, Rex just predicted the Jets would win the 2013 and 2014 Super Bowl as well! The cocky head coach persona is fun and can work for a while, but pretty soon even the most victory starved Jets fans will want this team to get err done. I am shocked they made it to two straight AFC Championship games in a row with the perennial circus this team is. Lets look back at some of the distractions: Edwards – DUI, the Ryan’s foot fetish video, tripping-gate, Sanchez and the 17 year old and Favre’s wiener photos to name a few.
This team does have talent, specifically on the offensive side of the ball with an up and coming Mark Sanchez leading the team. There are challenges with a host of free agents to resign as well as Rex’s predictions to live up to. Regardless they’ll be worth keeping an eye on to see how this all shakes out.
- A young franchise QB who shows maturity on the field, even when he doesn’t off the field.
- One of the best offensive lines in the league.
- A ton of weapons on offense.
- Darrelle Revis.
- Three of their four wide outs, including starters Homes and Edwards, are free agents.
- No pass rush.
- Overrated defense that is prone to the big play.
- Rex Ryan. He may get them to play, but I think this doesn’t end well. It won’t be this year, but down the road it won’t be pretty. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Needs: The Jets should be able to retain their offense, including the wide outs to give them a real dynamic offense next year. The real strength is their offensive line. Even if Damien Woody isn’t brought back they have Vladimir Ducasse how was selected high in the last draft and should be able to add some insurance this year as well. The key thing for the Jets is finding a way to get to the QB without blitzing which should help Revis and the rest of the secondary give up less big plays.
Miami Dolphins 7-9
Boring! How else would you describe this team? Does anybody care? I was a big Tony Sporano fan when he was in Dallas but he has been anything but impressive during his tenure as the Dolphins coach. This team is in complete disarray. Parcells puts his boy Jeff Ireland in charge, gets another one of his boys Sporano, to coach and them proceeds to quit or take a leave of absence, get stuck on the toilet, whatever, during the season. Wonder Boy, Ireland spends his days thinking of genius questions for incoming rookies like “Was your mom a hooker?” You can’t make this stuff up. Then Sporano is fired. They go after Jim Harbaugh and he says, “thanks, but no thanks” and signs with the 49ER’s so they have to crawl back to poor Sporano. On the field Chad Henne is doing his best Alex Smith impression by sucking the first 10-12 games and then looking good down the stretch so the team can’t figure out whether they should fish (hardy –har-har) or cut bait.
- Brandon Marshal is a stud trapped in Miami.
- Jake Long is a franchise left tackle, assuming his shoulder is ok.
- Yes only 2. This should tell you what I think of the Dolphins.
- Dysfunction from top to bottom. Whose running this ship and why?
- Quarterback. Henne is destined to be a backup.
- Aside from Long the line is a mess.
- Mediocrity. They seem like a team destined to hover between 6-10 & 9-7 for a long time.
- Their division.
Needs: The Dolphins have a lot of needs and are without a #2 pick with the Marshal trade so they could be moving south on draft day. Do they take a QB in the first round? Not likely. Look for them to take another Chad Henne in round 2. This team needs a major shakeup. What a mess!
Buffalo Bills 4-12
Despite their record the Bills were a competitive team for most of the season, especially after Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the starting quarterback. The two seasons ending blowouts put a little damper on an otherwise optimistic feel. Compare the Bills and the Dolphins. Obviously Miami has more talent, but which fan base should be more optimistic? I say the Bills because they have stability at quarterback and even though the jury is still out on Chan Gailey, at least there appears to be a game plan.
- The #9 pick should give the Bills a stud on defense they sorely need.
- Fitzpatrick put up very impressive numbers and should improve his overall play with a full offseason as the starter.
- Depth at running back.
- Stevie Johnson had a breakout season last year.
- Defense. Starting with the sieve of a line and the strainer-like linebacker corps.
- Playmakers. Aside from Johnson they are thin at wide out and need a playmaker at tight end.
- Depth everywhere, aside from running back, is a problem.
Needs: I think there is reason for optimism in Buffalo. Keep in mind they still have 6 more months of winter ahead of them, but I think this team is on the upswing. Is Fitzpatrick the long term answer at QB or should they start grooming his eventual replacement? Interesting questions they will have to answer this offseason. First things first, fix the D!