Many say that predicting the NFL season is like trying to win the
Idaho lottery: it’s pretty much a crapshoot.
In the past, I’ve experienced that for myself.
And it’s easy to see why: there are only sixteen games in a season, teams can get really hot or really cold really fast, players can go down with season-ending injuries, others come from out of nowhere to make a name for themselves, etc.
You can go on and on with any number of reasons why the NFL is so hard to predict.
But yet, we media members are going to go right ahead and predict it anyway.
So, without further ado, I bring to you my annual NFL prediction columns.
As we head out into the preseason, I will take a look at the NFL, division-by-division.
I’ll give you my thoughts on each team in that division, why I think that team will/won’t be any good this season, and give you an estimated order of finish in that division, one through four.
Yesterday was a look at a division in the AFC West that has two teams possibly going to the playoffs and two teams going for four wins total this year.
Today, the cellar dwellers of this division aren’t nearly as bad as either the Chiefs or Raiders, but there’s just no way they catch up with the Patriots.
It’s a look at the AFC East.
: Dick Jauron
: for anybody that had any doubts whatsoever, the doubts are being put to rest for good that this is now J.P. Losman’s team.
Losman has a decent offensive line guarding him, he has weapons (Peerless Price, Lee Evans, and Josh Reed are back), and he has a rookie running back in California’s Marshawn Lynch that should help relieve pressure off the passing game, as well as help offset the loss of Willis McGahee.
Aside from New England,
Buffalo’s offense may just be the best in the AFC East.
: losing London Fletcher-Baker to Washington and Takeo Spikes to
Philadelphia will hurt the Bills’ linebacker unit.
They still have young guns that produced well last year to help pick up the slack in Keith Ellison and Angelo Crowell, but chances are likely the Bills will miss Fletcher-Baker and Spikes more than they may think.
They also lost Nate Clements to
San Francisco in the offseason, but helped offset that loss with the free agent pickup of
Atlanta cornerback Jason Webster.
The defensive line is still young and learning, which for the future is a good thing, but for the here and now, it’s a bad thing.
: hopefully you have your seats ready to sit at the bottom of the division again, Bills fans.
You may have to get used to it.
: 4th in AFC East, won’t make the playoffs
Cam Cameron is entering his first season as a head coach in the NFL after spending the last five seasons as the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers.
: there’s some positive in
Miami’s offensive team this season, and quite a few negative.
Miami’s top rusher for the past two seasons, is back with a purpose.
It will certainly help him that
Miami went and acquired fullback Cory Schlesinger from the Lions and offensive lineman Chris Liwienski from the Cardinals.
It doesn’t help that the Dolphins lost tight end Randy McMichael to the Rams, or that they lost Sammy Morris and Wes Walker to the Patriots.
And yes, they lost their two top quarterbacks this offseason (Joey Harrington to the Falcons and Daunte Culpepper to the Raiders).
But, they did acquire Trent Green from the Chiefs, and also drafted BYU quarterback John Beck.
Oh, and Cleo Lemon is still there.
But hey, at least you passed up on Brady Quinn for
State wideout Ted Ginn Jr.
So at least you have that going for you.
: an already solid defensive unit that didn’t lose anybody of significance this offseason will be returning with two new prominent members: former Chargers defensive lineman Akbar Gbaja-Biamila and former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter.
Porter will help provide immediate help to the Dolphins’ linebacker unit, while Gbaja-Biamila is converting from defensive lineman to linebacker.
If it works out, more power to him and the Dolphins.
I just think that the D-Line needs help more than the linebackers do.
Miami also has one of the better secondaries in the conference.
: There are just way too many losses for
Miami to overcome.
Yes, some of their younger players will probably take charge, but I just don’t see how they can pull it off in the same division as the Patriots.
: 3rd in AFC East, won’t make the playoffs.
: Bill Belichick
: good news and bad news…well, good news for the Patriots, bad news for everybody else.
What was already a championship contender last year and a team that went to the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots didn’t lose anybody of significance on either side of the football this offseason.
Not only that, but they went and got another good running back in Sammy Morris, who will play a good Joseph Addai to Laurence Maroney’s Dominic Rhodes.
They also got Tom Brady, already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, more weapons.
Jacksonville tight end Kyle Brady (as far as I know, they are not related),
Philadelphia wideout Donte’ Stallworth,
Miami wideout Wes Walker, and
Oakland wideout and former All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss.
If Moss stays on the straight and narrow path of keeping his comments to himself, working hard, and getting open, Brady will find him more often than he’ll find child support taken out of his checks.
This is not only the best offense in the AFC East, it could rival
San Diego for the best offense in the AFC, period.
: and as scary as that sounds, the defense just got a whole lot better.
Already, you have leaders and veterans such as Rodney Harrison, Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi, Rosevelt Colvin, Asante Samuel, Eugene Wilson, Larry Izzo, Mike Vrabel, Keith Traylor, Ty Warren, and Richard Seymour all coming back, but you also now have a very explosive, up-and-coming, young linebacker in Baltimore’s Adalius Thomas.
This could be a long season for opposing offenses.
: the fact that they didn’t lose anybody coupled with the acquisitions they made could turn the Patriots into an early odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl.
: AFC East Division Champions
: Eric Mangini
: the big question from New York is, after back-to-back seasons in which he suffered a torn rotator cuff in his throwing arm, followed by a season in which he seemed to quiet the skeptics, can Chad Pennington prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder and that he is ready to once again by the franchise quarterback for the New York Jets?
While the Jets didn’t gain or lose anybody in terms of wide receivers, it is interesting that, after Curtis Martin retired and Kevan Barlow left, the running game did get an upgrade in former Bears running back Thomas Jones.
The offensive line is a good one that will make sure Pennington doesn’t get thrown to the ground too often.
: the Jets’ defense didn’t lose anybody of significance this offseason, but did improve their secondary with the draft selection of
Pittsburgh’s Darrelle Revis.
Other than that, they really didn’t do much to improve their defense, either.
So what you got from the Jets last year is pretty much what you’d expect this season.
: the Jets have been known to be able to battle it out with the Patriots in the past, and I think they will again this season…only this time, I don’t see how the Jets are able to beat them.
They won’t even make the playoffs this season.
: 2nd in AFC East, won’t make the playoffs
So, looking at everything overall, here’s how the AFC East shapes up:
Tomorrow is the last column in the NFL Preview column series, and I will look at the AFC South, home to the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Indianapolis Colts.