IS it worth opposing New England Patriots in the AFC East? Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) gives us his view.
AFC East | 10th September 2015 – 3rd January 2016
Every drama played out in the NFL this summer seems to have been centred around the AFC East. Most famously with what will forever be known as ‘Deflategate’. Tom Brady’s four game suspension was overturned by a U.S. Judge so the Patriots will start the quest for a 12th Division Title in 13 years with their superstar leading from the front.
New England Patriots
NFL Rule One – Never bet against the Pats. You could almost end it there. It’s pretty simple, whilst Tom Brady is on the field and Coach Bellichick is on the sidelines, New England will continue to win the AFC East.
It was a fairly stable summer in Foxboro (court cases apart) but Vince Wilfork will be missed, as will Shane Vereen but the Defence is young, hungry and athletic. Bellichick has always rotated his Running Backs and turns them over regularly. Le Garret Blount is a beast and plenty like Jonas Gray behind him. Any team would suffer if they lost Darrel Revis and the Secondary is maybe the biggest concern for this team but they win it. Deep playoff run? Not sure about that.
If things have been calm in New England, they’ve been anything but in Buffalo. The Bills have seen a new coach ride into town. Rex Ryan, a legend everywhere he hasn’t coached. The Jets finally had enough after a 4-12 season and Ryan didn’t exactly leave a united team behind. Geno Smith having his jaw broken by a teammate (who then followed Ryan to Buffalo after being kicked out by the Jets) is a case in point.
However the Bills have spent big money and could well surprise a few this year. Ryan has made his first controversial decision, making Tyrod Taylor his starting QB over the more experienced EJ Manuel & Matt Cassel. LeSean McCoy is the starting Running Back after Fred Jackson was cut and CJ Spiller sent down to New Orleans. 9-7 was not too bad last season. I see something similar this, maybe their playoff hopes hinge on Miami.
Joe Philbin is another coach in the last chance saloon. He’s been criticised heavily by press and fans for his game management and five or six losses in recent years can be attributed to indecision and poor play calling. If your job is in doubt, any good Coach would make sure his Defence was right before anything else and boy has he got this bit right.
There have been many teams down the years who have won Championships with an average Offence but an all star Defence. That could be the case in Miami. The frightening Ndamukong Suh has joined Cameron Wake and Oliver Vernon in what could be the outstanding D in the entire Conference. Their season could well hinge on a single game as an easy start could see them go 6-0 but in Week 8 they face the Pats. From their, six of their last 10 opponents were playoff teams in 2014. That’s tough but imagine they beat the Pats and go 7-0. Those last nine won’t look half as scary and I think they can go 10-6 and sail into the Post Season.
New York Jets
Oh dear. What hasn’t happened in New Jersey? Rex Ryan has been replaced by Todd Bowles. Starting Quarterback Geno Smith was looking forward to a season where all of a sudden he had weapons. Brandon Marshall arriving from Chicago would hopefully make Eric Deckers second season a little easier. Not so many Double Teams down the field.
Zac Stacy looked a nice recruit in the Backfield but best of all for the whole organisation, the brilliant Darrel Revis was back after a couple of years in Tampa and New England. The best Cornerback in the game would strengthen an already improving Defence. Well poor old Geno picked a fight with the wrong guy in training camp and had his jaw shattered. Now Ryan Fitzpatrick starts the season under centre. I’m really not a fan and don’t see anything too bright for the Jets. 8-8 would be a miracle.
AFC East – New England/Miami Straight Forecast (2/1 Ladbrokes)