NFL 2018/19 Preview: Improving Miami can challenge Patriots’ AFC East dominance

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NFL nut Kyle Brown (@Kyleianbrown) runs the rule over the AFC East market ahead of the 2018/19 season. 

NFL 2018/19 Preview: AFC East

Both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets will likely have rookie quarterbacks starting in their retrospective openers, and whilst the future may be bright, the short term will definitely be filled with some teething problems.

In modern NFL history, only 12 rookie quarterbacks who were handed starting roles early on went on to lead their team to the play-offs. I don’t think Josh Allen or Sam Darnold will be adding their names to that list come the end of the season.

Buffalo have lost three starting offensive linemen and Allen is nowhere near the finished article. No matter who starts at QB in Week 1, the task of repeating last year’s 9-7 record and play-off appearance is near impossible.

Without seeming too pessimistic, there are no games on the Bills’ schedule this year I expect them to win. It’s a lot of maybes. I could argue the same case for the Jets.

The Jets did a better job at improving their roster, a solid draft was met with a pricey free agency – which is why I have them pegged above the Bills.

Three years on, during a (presumably) ‘Brady-less’ AFC East, Allen and Darnold could be battling it out for top spot in the division. But for right now, I expect them each to have a 4-12 record, with the match-ups between one another proving pivotal as to who finishes bottom.

Patriots and Dolphins to lead the AFC East

As for the Miami Dolphins, it’s now or never with Ryan Tannehill at the helm after coming off a season ending injury. But head coach Adam Gase managed to make Jay Cutler look good for a season in Chicago – if that’s anything to go by, he could be in for his best season yet.

The Dolphins made a lot of moves during free agency. Big players walked out but every hole was plugged. I do rate Miami this year, and I expect them to silence a lot of their critics and be in contention for a wild card berth, but they’re still some way off competing seriously for the divisional crown.

And lastly, New England Patriots. Lack of wide receiver depth, an inability for Rob Gronkowski to stay fit for 16 games and the supposed discontent between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick should all be red flags. But there is no doubt in my mind that they still do what they do best, win.

It’s a boring and repetitive story – Patriots topping the AFC East and getting another play-off appearance – but until either Brady or Belichick decide enough is enough, I don’t see the streak ending.

Back the Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Bills to be the final finishing order at 5/1 (Sky Bet).

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NFL 2018/19 – Patriots/Dolphins/Jets/Bills exact AFC East finishing order (5/1 Sky Bet)

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A bit like Charlie from Charlie's Angles, the ubiquitous WLB Admin guys are the all-seeing eyes of the site, making sure the web monkeys keep the site running.

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