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AFC East Q&A: What impact will Tom Brady's suspension have?

6/18/2015
Play2:13
Impact of Brady's suspension on division rivals

ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano talks about how Tom Brady's suspension will affect the rest of the AFC East.

Today's question: How much of an impact will Tom Brady's suspension have on the New England Patriots' AFC East rivals?

Mike Rodak, Buffalo Bills: The Bills host the Patriots in Week 2, so naturally Brady's suspension gives the Bills a better chance to win that game. Still, I think the effect of Brady's absence might be overstated for two reasons. First, the Bills have hosted the Patriots in early-season games in each of the past four seasons and have either kept it competitive for most of the contest, or won -- as Buffalo did in 2011, intercepting Brady four times. Second, the Patriots have historically been strong in the second half of the season, winning nearly 75 percent of their November and December games since 2008. Brady went 2-2 in his first four games last season and won a Super Bowl, so I don't think the Bills beating a Jimmy Garoppolo-led team in September would have a dramatic impact on the remainder of the season. It's that Monday night game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Nov. 23 that the Bills must win, and Brady will almost certainly be starting.

James Walker, Miami Dolphins: Not much for the Dolphins. Brady should be under center for both meetings against Miami in Weeks 8 and 17. The Dolphins have actually been competitive against the Patriots the past two seasons, splitting the past four head-to-head meetings and winning both games at home. That's a good step forward for the Dolphins, who play with more confidence and swagger against the Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. However, Miami still played like a deer in the headlights at Gillette Stadium in recent years. An even bigger step for Miami would be to make sure its meeting with New England in the regular-season finale has playoff implications for both teams.

Rich Cimini, New York Jets: It will have little impact on the Jets because they don't face the Patriots until the sixth game. If anything, it could work against New York in that particular meeting. If the four-game suspension stands, it would be Brady's first home game. The Jets would be walking into a Brady pep rally; Gillette Stadium would be electric. Oh, by the way, the Jets have lost six straight regular-season games in Foxborough. Taking a big picture view, if Brady's absence causes the Patriots to lose games they ordinarily would win, yeah, the suspension will impact the standings. But it won't dramatically change the landscape. As always, the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East, and that won't change if he misses four games or two or one. The Jets finished eight games behind New England in 2014 -- eight! -- so it's not like they're lurking nearby, waiting for the right moment to pull ahead. Offseason improvements notwithstanding, the Jets will need more than a Brady suspension to overcome their longtime nemesis.