2010 NFL Preview: AFC East

2009: New England Patriots, 10-6
2008: Miami Dolphins, 11-5
2007: New England Patriots, 16-0
2006: New England Patriots, 12-4
2005: New England Patriots, 10-6
2004: New England Patriots, 14-2
2003: New England Patriots, 14-2
2002: New York Jets, 9-7

The Patriots have owned the AFC East since realignment in 2002. The Patriots made a Super Bowl in 2001 then three more representing the new division. For as much pub as they get, they haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004. Of course, we all remember the undefeated season ending with a shocking loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. The Dolphins had an amazing 10 win turnaround in 2008 to steal the division from a Tom Brady-less Patriots team, but other then that, New England has hardly been challenged.

1. New York Jets, 11-5. It is Super Bowl or bust for the New York Jets this year. They added big names Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson. They bring back the top ranked defense in the National Football League last year. Rex Ryan is a fiery, extreme coach who could burn out quickly but is perfect for now. The Jets also had the best running game in the NFL last year. They replace Thomas Jones with Tomlinson, but make no mistake, Shonn Greene will be the focal point of this offense. Mark Sanchez had a mediocre regular season but helped the Jets get to the AFC title game. He is the reason I think they will finish 11-5 instead of 13-3. This team really is loaded with names and production to match up. They have as good of a shot as anyone to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. I think unless Sanchez takes the next step, and sophomore quarterbacks rarely do, they are still a year away.

2. New England Patriots, 9-7. The Patriots at 9-7? How? I admit the loss of Ty Warren helped me knock a win off their total, but even before that, I can see them on the outside looking in in a very brutal AFC. The Patriots still finished in the top half of the league in total defense, but I think the unit has holes all over the place and could have trouble stopping teams. The offense is stil elite, especially through the air. A running back has yet to step up, but the committee approach worked pretty well last year. As long as the Patriots have Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker, they will be a playoff contender. But I think their window to win a Super Bowl has closed. They just don't have the personell, especially on defense, to go all the way. Never count out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick though. 9-7 might just be wishful thinking to me.

3. Miami Dolphins, 9-7. No team made as big of a positional upgrade as the Dolphins did when they added Brandon Marshall and subtracted Ted Ginn. That is like going from James Jones as your starting small forward to LeBron James. It is that big of an upgrade. The Dolphins now have talent sprinkled all over the offense, but how will it come together? The originators of the Wildcat offense will move away from that this year. If Ronnie Brown can stay healthy (yeah right) they have a nice two headed monster with the ageless Ricky Williams. Not to mention the improvement of Chad Henne and the addition of Marshall. The offense could be deadly. The defense, however, is going through changes. Gone are starting outside linebackers Jason Taylor and Joey Porter. Who will replace them? They are set inside with the addition of stud free agent Karlos Dansby. They also have a potentially great cornerback duo in 2009 rookies Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. The line is also full of promising youngsters and solid veteran Randy Starks. If all clicks for Miami they can get back to that 11-5 record they were at a couple years ago, but I think the defense is too young and inexperienced for them to finish with much more then 9 or 10 wins. They will be fun to watch though, and as a Dolphin fan who remembers the Jay Fiedler days, I'll take an entertaining team any day, even if they aren't the best.

4. Buffalo Bills, 2-14. The Bills have not had a winning record since 2004, but hovered around 6 and 7 wins the last half decade. I think that will come crashing down this year, and have the Bills with the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. They just don't have the talent to compete with the other horses in this division. They couldn't find a quarterback, used multiple picks on running backs, and changed their defensive scheme, meaning they have to add a whole new set of players. CJ Spiller already seems to have the backfield to himself, and he should be a nice weapon, but with these quarterbacks and holes all over the offensive line and throughout the defense, they just don't have what it takes to win more then 4 or 5 games in my opinion.

Jonathan Carrano

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