Predictions: Forecasting the AFC East
• Mike Reiss’ Patriots prediction: 13-3 record, playoff elimination short of Super Bowl
Reiss' AFC East forecast
|Patriots||13-3||The feeling here is that the top contenders in the AFC are New England, Baltimore and Houston. That could make the Patriots' Week 3 game at the Ravens one with long-range implications in the event of a head-to-head tie-breaker. With that in mind, and the Ravens playing at home, we'll lean toward them to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. That could mean a victory over the Patriots in the AFC title game, or the divisional round.|
|Jets||10-6||Not ready to bury the Jets just yet, mainly because of their defense. The offense is a big concern, of course, so they'll need to win with D.|
|Bills||9-7||Still have my doubts on whether their free-agent spending will produce the desired results, in part because of the up-and-down play of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.|
|Dolphins||3-13||They're in rebuilding mode and putting the pieces together that could make them more of a factor in 2013 and beyond.|
• Mike Rodak’s Patriots prediction: 13-3 record, Super Bowl victory over 49ers
Rodak's AFC East forecast
|Patriots||13-3||Patriots certainly not without question marks, especially on defense, but it's a pretty good bet that this team will still be in the mix come late January or early February. They were a few plays away from winning Super Bowl XLVI last season, and perhaps those plays go the other way this time around. Without a doubt, they are a top contender.|
|Bills||9-7||Just not sure this team will live up to its offseason billing, without a top-flight quarterback.|
|Jets||9-7||The circus around Tim Tebow becomes a distraction, while there remain holes on the roster.|
|Dolphins||6-10||A team in rebuilding mode, with a rookie quarterback and a new head coach.|
• Field Yates’ Patriots prediction: 13-3 record, Super Bowl victory over Packers
Yates' AFC East forecast
|Patriots||13-3||Pats have reloaded after a disheartening end to the 2011 season, including a defense that looks ready to make game-changing plays with regularity. On offense, the passing game features four targets who could each eclipse 1,000 yards receiving. Count on the O-line to come together early in the season. Ultimately, the Patriots finish the job in New Orleans.|
|Bills||8-8||The Bills have upgraded their roster, there's little doubt of that, but questions remain about depth and at starting quarterback, where Ryan Fitzpatrick still has something to prove.|
|Jets||6-10||Defensively, the Jets are stout, but a lack of playmakers on offense and inconsistency across the line will result in a long season in New York.|
|Dolphins||4-12||The Dolphins are in step one of the re-building phase, having handed the keys to the offense over to Ryan Tannehill in Joe Philbin's first season as head coach. Growing pains are likely to follow.|
• Your turn: How do you see the AFC East playing out? What's your predicted record for each team? Are the Patriots headed back to the Super Bowl? Share your predictions in the comments section. At the end of the season, we’ll recognize the reader who was closest to the actual numbers.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Mike Reiss first started covering the Patriots in 1997 with the team's official newspaper, Patriots Football Weekly, before moving on to the MetroWest Daily News in his hometown of Framingham. From 2005 to 2009, he covered the Patriots for The Boston Globe, while also writing on the NFL. He started his popular Patriots blog in 2004. Send any questions or comments for Mike to his mailbag. Follow him on Twitter (@MikeReiss).
Mike Rodak began covering the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com in July 2010. A native of Grafton, Mass., Mike attended Providence College. Follow him on Twitter (@mikerodak)
Field Yates begins his contributions to ESPNBoston.com in 2012 after having written for a number of football-related sites around the web. Field began his professional career after college with the Kansas City Chiefs, working in both the scouting and coaching departments of the franchise before redirecting his focus to a career in media. He also interned for four summers in the coaching and scouting departments with the Patriots. Follow him on Twitter (@FieldYates).