Thursday, September 2, 2010
Agree? Disagree? It's my AFC East preview
ESPN.com's season preview package has been posted on the main NFL page.
For easy access, here are the links to the four AFC East teams:
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Each team page includes predictions from a panel of ESPN experts, my "Intelligence Report" of five items, "Draft Class Watch," a Scouts Inc. evaluation of the top five players, a divisional overview video with Mike Golic and Mark Schlereth, and a podcast from Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson and yours truly.
Here is my forecast for the division standings:
1. New York Jets: While the Jets did get lucky and sneaked into the playoffs, there seemed to be a shift in the AFC East with what transpired thereafter. The Patriots were embarrassed at home in the first round, while the Jets won two games on the road to reach the conference title game. Then, over the offseason, the Jets got better.
2. New England Patriots: The Patriots are contenders as long as Bill Belichick is head coach and Tom Brady is quarterback. But they have their share of concerns, including guard Logan Mankins' absence, lack of a pass rush and cornerback depth. Regardless, the Patriots are headed to the playoffs.
3. Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are a playoff-caliber team, but they're up against two teams that finished ahead of them in the division standings last season and remain formidable. The Dolphins must compete with the defending champs and conference runners-up. Somebody has to finish third.
4. Buffalo Bills: The Bills were competitive in division games last season, nearly shocking the Patriots on opening night and splitting with the Jets and Dolphins. But they're 2-10 against the division the past two seasons. While the Bills are rebuilding, the other teams made offseason moves to push for the playoffs, making the gap even wider for this season.