Tuesday, September 7, 2010

AFC East Preview and Predictions

1. NY Jets - 12-4

Second year QB Mark Sanchez showed flashes of both brilliance, and stupidity last year in his first NFL season, finishing it off with 12 TD's and 20 interceptions and nearly 2,500 passing yards. The experience as a full time NFL starter in his rookie season will prove to be invaluble. I have a feeling that "Sanchize" will cut down on the interceptions and have more confidence in himself going into the 2010 season. With the departure of RB Thomas Jones, second year man Shonn Greene out of Iowa will get the nod as the Jets starting RB. Greene saw limited time last season behind Jones, but when he got the ball, he did good things with it. In 14 games, Greene rushed the ball 108 times for 540 yards (5.0 yards per carry), and scored 2 touchdowns. The Jets brass is expecting big things out of Greene, as am I. Sanchez needs one of his recievers to step up and take the role of the go-to-guy, and that could be newly acquired Santonio Holmes. Holmes was acquired in the offseason from Pittsburgh after the Steelers heard of his four game suspension for violating the leagues' substance abuse policy. When Holmes is eligible to play, look for Sanchez to take comfort in having him on the field.

The Jets defense is extremely talented. Yesterday, the Green and White finally came to a contract agreement with All-Pro DB Darrell Revis after a long hold out. The defensive line is led by Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins, who cause a lot of trouble for opposing offensive lineman. Linebacker Bart Scott is a do everything guy, and brings the intensity and toughness he learned from Ray Lewis in Baltimore. The real strength on this defensive unit are the defensive backs, Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool and rookie out of Boise State, Kyle Wilson are all lockdown defenders at their position. The Jets defense will be one of the top three defenses in the league, and will be the sole reason for at least three wins in 2010.

2. New England Patriots - 11-5

When healthy, Tom Brady is a top three QB in the NFL, and guess what, he's healthy. Brady has nearly the same exact offense from 2007 when he threw for almost 5,000 yards and connected on 50 touchdowns. I am expecting another Bradyesque season in 2010. I like the combo of Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney in the back field. Taylor is a wiley veteran who still has a ton of ability, while Maroney has shown flashes of greatness in the past, but seems a bit disinterested at times. I think the Patriots front office brought in Taylor to teach Maroney what it takes to be a good player and teammate. From the moment Moss arrived on scene in New England, he and Brady were an unstoppable force. In 2007, Brady and Moss connected on 23 TD's (an NFL record) and we can expect these two to connect on 13 or more TD's this season. Wes Welker is one of the best slot/possession receivers in the league. In 2007, Welker had 112 receptions, tied with T.J. Houshmandzadeh for most in the NFL. The Patriots offense is very potent, and should emerge as one of the best in 2010.

The big question mark for the New England is their defense. They have a few bright spots with Vince Wilfork up front, Jerod Mayo leading the Linebackers, and Brandon Meriweather breaking through as a young, dynamic DB. As of now, rookie DB Devin McCourty out of Rutgers is listed as the starting right Cornerback, if he is high on Belichick's list, then he must be good. Much like the 2009 season, the Patriots secondary is very questionable and will be tested eary and often.

3. Miami Dolphins - 7-9

The Dolphins have made huge strides over the last couple of seasons. They now have a Quarterback who I like to describe as cool, calm and collected in Chad Henne. Henne didn't have a huge season in 2009, his first as an NFL starter, but he played better than most expected. Now, with one of the best receivers in the NFL on his side in Brandon Marshall, I expect Henne to nearly double his TD total from 2009. Speaking of Marshall, he gives the Dolphins the big time receiver that every NFL team covets. Miami also has a nice one-two punch in the back field with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Both of these guys, at one time, were successful full-time backs, but injuries and personal issues have resulted in a steady decline in ability. Look for the Dolphins offense to have a solid 2010 season, also look for LeBron James to be roaming the sidelines wearing Dallas Cowboy gear.
The Dolphins defense, like a lot of others in the league, has some bright spots, but more holes. They start two rookies at key positions, Jared Odrick at Defensive End and Koa Misi at Linebacker. Miami does have a couple of supremely talented veterans to show Misi the ropes at the position, Channing Crowder and Karlos Dansby. The Dolphins secondary has two very good players in second year Cornerback Vontae Davis and veteran Strong Safety Yeremiah Bell who spend a lot of their time making up for other peoples missed assignments. Miami may nit be a playoff team this year, but watch out for them a couple years down the road.

4. Buffalo Bills - 3-13
The Bills, like the Browns and the Raiders, are a complete mess. They attempted the T.O. experiment in 2009 to no avail, now they are left with only one wideout who has proven he can produce, Lee Evans. Quarterback Trent Edwards was ready for a breakout 2009 season, but injuries last year prevented him from getting comfortable with new Head Coach Chan Gailey and getting in rhythm with WR Terrell Owens. The Bills used the 9th overall pick in the 2010 draft on an explosive RB out of Clemson, C.J. Spiller. In drafting Spiller, however, it creates a logjam at the Running Back position, with Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson also vying for carries. Look for the Bills to try and trade one of their three backs for another threat in the passing game.
Buffalo's defense is in shambles. They have a bunch of mismatched parts thrown onto the field together. I'm hoping they give rookie Linebacker Aaron Maybin out of Penn State a lot of run this season. Bills Defensive Coordinator George Edwards has his work cut out for him this season.

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