- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Last week the AFC East blog ran a series of over/under totals for key players within the division.
Let’s take a look at the results from our community and examine the possibilities.
Community vote: Over 1,500 yards
Thoughts: About 52 percent of AFC East readers felt Spiller was primed to rush for more than 1,500 yards this season. That is a huge number, but there are reasons for optimism. For starters, Buffalo hired a new head coach in Doug Marrone who will make Spiller the unquestioned starter. Former Bills coach Chan Gailey stayed loyal to aging running back Fred Jackson, 32, too long at the expense of Spiller, who had six games of nine carries or fewer in 2012. Expect Spiller to get 20 or more carries often this year. He rushed for 1,244 yards last season with limited opportunities. So Spiller could reach 1,500 rushing yards if he stays healthy.
Community vote: Over 1,100 yards
Thoughts: About 66 percent of AFC East readers believe Wallace is primed for a bounce-back season after signing with the Dolphins in free agency. Wallace is joining forces with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and the pair will aim to grow together in Miami. Wallace is an elite deep threat and one of the fastest players in the NFL. Wallace is going to get a lot of yards per catch and yards after the catch (YAC) due to big plays. Another key component is Wallace scores touchdowns -- he has 32 career TDs in four seasons.
Community vote: Under 4,300 yards
Thoughts: Our AFC East community has lost some confidence in Brady. After losing an immense amount of production with tight end Aaron Hernandez and receivers Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, about 60 percent voted under 4,300 passing yards for Brady. Keep in mind, Brady threw for 4,827 yards in 2012. So the AFC East blog shaved more than 500 yards off the over/under total. Many fans still believe Brady won’t reach that number. The Patriots’ offense will be in trouble if Brady’s production has a significant drop off. A key will be the health of tight end Rob Gronkowski and new receiver Danny Amendola, who have both shown the inability to play all 16 games.
No. 4: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill
Community vote: Over 23.5 touchdown passes
Thoughts: Optimism is running high in our community with Tannehill. About 62 percent of AFC East fans believe Tannehill will double his touchdown total in Year 2 by throwing for more than 23.5. Tannehill had just 12 passing touchdowns in 2012, but his lack of supporting cast received most of the blame. Miami spent a lot of money this offseason to sign Wallace, fellow receiver Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller. These are players who fit Tannehill, as well as Miami’s West Coast system.
No. 5: Bills DE Mario Williams
Community vote: Over 11.5 sacks
Thoughts: It was an up-and-down season for Williams in 2012, but he still had 10.5 sacks. About 61 percent of our community believes Williams will have a bigger year in 2013. Buffalo has a new defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine, who is expected to be very aggressive. This better suits Williams. However, the Bills also are expected to play some 3-4 alignments, where Williams could be standing up as an outside linebacker, which could take Williams out of his comfort zone.
No. 6: Dolphins DE Cameron Wake
Community vote: Over 14.5 sacks
Thoughts: Wake was on a tear in 2012. He made the Pro Bowl after registering 15 sacks, and about 64 percent of our AFC East community expects Wake to post similar numbers this season. Similar to Tannehill, Wake will have more assistance getting to the quarterback this year. The Dolphins drafted defensive end Dion Jordan No. 3 overall and added speed at linebacker with Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. Wake won’t be alone this year on passing downs.