By Vincent Pensabene
AFC East Predictions
The AFC East is becoming more competitive than it has in five years as the Patriots are beginning to reach the end of their dynasty. The Jets and Bills have both drafted a quarterback in the first round in Sam Darnold and Josh Allen respectively and hope to make huge improvements during the season. The Dolphins are trying to find an identity after losing Jay Ajayi and Ndamukong Suh in the past year and try to get Ryan Tannehill back to what he was pre-injury. The AFC East has a huge discrepancy between the top and the bottom of the division.
New England Patriots (10-6)
I truly believe this is the end of the Patriots’ dynasty. This team is becoming more open by the media in the past year after the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady riff. This isn’t the same team that lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52. They lost one of the first round picks in Isaiah Wynn, who would be protecting Brady’s blindside, for the season. The receivers need to wear nametags at practice for Brady to know who he is throwing to. Julian Edelman is missing the first month due to PED suspension and Eric Decker signed and retired. Gronk’s health is a question mark and the defense was shaky last year at times and now is without Malcolm Butler. No one is ready to overthrow them and still deserve to be the leader because of the reigning 41 year-old MVP.
New York Jets (8-8)
Sam Darnold is the real deal. The media thinks so, the organization thinks so, and I think so. Sam Darnold will win Offensive Rookie of the Year since he is named the starter and the Jets have an easy schedule. They play three games in the first ten days of the season (player safety?) and they can easily go 2-1 or 3-0 in those games. The defense is elite, especially if they can manage a trade for Khalil Mack. Without Mack, they have an elite safety in Adams and corner in Johnson. The defense will have a chance to standout, but the offense will be able to hold its own.
Buffalo Bills (4-12)
To jump from a quarterback with the skillset of Tyrod Taylor to Josh Allen is difficult for a playoff team last year. That’s if Allen even can get on the field with Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron also getting reps. How can receivers get chemistry with a new quarterback if they also need to learn two other quarterbacks as well. I like Kelvin Benjamin in this offense for a full season, but his yards, receptions, and touchdowns have all gone down every year since his rookie season. Their defense is decent but Micah Hyde could stand out on this team in the secondary. Don’t expect much from the forgotten New York team.
Miami Dolphins (4-12)
After a full year recovering from injury, Ryan Tannehill is ready to be under center. They don’t have a running game to be a fully-functional offense with Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore in the backfield. The receivers are decent, but not great with DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Danny Amendola (who will have a down year without Brady throwing to him). I am a fan of their defensive pieces, but they don’t click enough to keep the opponents off the board enough.