A rundown of the AFC East, with analysis of each team, stats on key players, and record predictions.
New England Patriots
Last year, the Pats, sans Tom Brady went 11-5 with Matt Cassel at the helm. That would be a pretty decent year if not for the fact that they went 16-0 the previous regular season and the fact that eleven games wasn’t even enough to get New England into the playoffs. Cassel has since been traded the Kansas City Chiefs and Brady is back from the injury that sidelined him all of last season. Look for the Pats and Brady to get right back where they left off after the surprising Super Bowl loss to the Giants two years ago. Remember when Wes Welker was playing in a limited role for the Dolphins? I bet they wish they didn’t let him go since he’s turned into the best possession receiver in all of football.
QB: Tom Brady-Injured in the season opener last year, attempting to comeback from a torn ACL.
WR: Randy Moss – 69 receptions, 1008 receiving yards, 11 TDs.
WR: Wes Welker – 111 receptions, 1165 receiving yards, 3 TDs.
Projected Record: 12-4
The Dolphins surprised the world by winning eleven games and making the playoffs last season following a 1-15 campaign in 2007. Former has-been Chad Pennington had one of the best years of his career and the ‘Fins played stout defense and won their last five games to take the AFC East even though they tied the Patriots. Ted Ginn Jr.’s development will be key to whether or not Miami can return to the playoffs. So far he’s been a shadow of the player the team thought they were picking when they bypassed Brady Quinn. Also, where is Ernest Wilford? Will the formerly productive receiver make any type of impact this season?
QB: Chad Pennington – 3653 passing yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs, 97.4 QB rating.
RB: Ronnie Brown – 214 rushes, 916 rushing yards, 10 TDs.
WR: Ted Ginn Jr. – 56 receptions, 790 receiving yards, 2 TDs.
Projected Record: 10-6
The Bills started off last season 5-1, but going 0-6 against division opponents makes it pretty difficult to be in playoff contention for very long. Buffalo finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season. As soon as disgruntled Terrell Owens was released by the Cowboys, owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. called for his signing at any cost. The Bills swooped in and signed Owens for one year, not giving him enough time to get past the honeymoon phase (hopefully). The dynamic duo of Owens and Lee Evans should put up the best numbers in the AFC (I still think Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are the best tandem in the NFL), as long as Trent Edwards’ maturation continues and the make-shift offensive line holds up.
QB: Trent Edwards – 2699 passing yards, 11 TDs, 10 INT, 85.4 QB rating.
RB: Marshawn Lynch – 250 rushes, 1036 rushing yards, 8 TDs.
WR: Lee Evans – 63 receptions, 1017 receiving yards, 3 TDs.
WR: Terrell Owens – 69 receptions, 1052 receiving yards, 10 TDs.
Projected Record: 8-8
New York Jets
Last season, New York surprised the NFL by signing Brett Favre and trading away Chad Pennington. The Favre experiment started off well as the Jets held an 8-3 record and the AFC East lead heading into the home stretch. They only won one more game, and Favre ended the season with as many touchdown passes as interceptions (21). Will a new coach at the helm (Rex Ryan), a hot-shot rookie QB (Mark Sanchez), and a willingness to shake off the disappointing end to last season be enough to propel the Jets into the post season? Probably not.
QB: Kellen Clemens or Mark Sanchez? Unproven veteran or young gun rookie?
RB: Thomas Jones – 290 rushes, 1312 rushing yards, 13 TDs.
WR: Jerricho Cotchery – 71 receptions, 858 yards receiving yards, 5 TDs.
LB: Eric Barton – 119 tackles.
Projected Record: 5-11
30 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist and sports editor. He also writes about fine beverages for drinkingmadeeasy.com and Chilled Magazine. On top of that, he writes about college and professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, throw him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on twitter http://www.twitter.com/chrisosburn