- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Welcome to another year of "Walker's AFC East predictions." We did a solid job a year ago and expect to do even better in 2012. Usually, we will reserve the picks for later in the week. But this time, the AFC East blog will release its picks a little earlier since it’s Week 1.
Let’s get right into the festivities.
Analysis: This is the easiest prediction of the week. I highlighted this game as a mismatch in the spring when the schedule was announced. I feel even more comfortable about the Texans after watching the Dolphins in training camp and the preseason. Miami has little to offer on offense and a rookie quarterback making his first regular-season start on the road. The Texans are a very good team offensively and defensively. In addition, the Dolphins have never beaten the Texans in six tries. If anyone is in an elimination pool, Houston is a safe pick.
Walker’s prediction: Texans, 27-10
Analysis: The Patriots looked rusty at times this preseason, mostly because of the offensive line. But head coach Bill Belichick had almost two weeks to prepare for this game, and that’s usually bad news for the opponent. The Titans’ offense is in flux with young quarterback Jake Locker starting his first opener and receiver Kenny Britt serving a suspension. This won’t be a walkover game many expect. It probably will be competitive for about three quarters until the Patriots pull away in the fourth.
Walker’s prediction: Patriots, 28-17
Analysis: This is a big opener in the division, and the AFC East blog will be there to take in the action. This game isn’t everything, but it will determine who has the inside track in the battle for second place in the division. I picked the Bills over a 16-game season. However, the Jets have more on the line in this particular game. If they lose at home, things could come apart quickly, particularly if the offense and starting quarterback Mark Sanchez are not up to par. I think you’re going to see a lot of urgency from New York in this opener, and the Jets have won five straight against the Bills. I don’t know where the Jets will get their points, but I think New York’s defense plays lights out and does just enough to win ugly at home.
Walker’s prediction: Jets, 16-14