2011 NFL Preview - AFC East

Just a quick reintroduction. I predict every game of the 2011 NFL season to come up with these records. This is not necessarily how good or bad I think teams are. We all know by now schedules play a big part of who makes the playoffs and who doesn't. And of course, all these records will be irrelevant by week 3 due to injuries. Anyways, here we go. Complain in 3....2....1....


1. New England Patriots, 13-3.

What a unique season the Patriots had in 2010. After a puzzling blowout at the hands of the lowly Browns in week 9, the Patriots never lost another regular season game. They turned the Randy Moss page and eventually utilized their two rookie tight ends and young running back en route to a 14-2 season, and perhaps Tom Brady's best season.

I think the regular season dominance should continue. All the key pieces for the 2010 top ranked offense return. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is joined by a couple exciting young rookies in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vareen, the two rookies both able to catch some passed out of the backfield. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are a devastating duo at tight end. But perhaps most importantly, Logan Mankins finally received his long term deal, so the offensive line returns intact. With the addition of Chad Ochocinco, Tom Brady will have plenty of weapons to throw to.

The Patriots seem to be leaning towards more of a 4-3 defense, which I think is a good idea. The 3-4 hasn't worked since their stellar defensive line started to wear down. The team added outcasts like Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth and Andre Carter. All three players were miscast in 3-4 defenses last year and should be much better in the 4-3. Thanks to all their high picks the team is very deep here, although the back seven could be a concern, especially in the secondary. Devin McCourty had a great rookie year, however.

The Patriots have a tough schedule, so a 13-3 record would be quite an accomplishment. The AFC East drew the very tough NFC East, but that is counterbalanced by winnable games against the AFC West. They should post a strong record in the regular season again, but can they finally get over the playoff hump? This dynasty hasn't won a title since the 2004 season.

2. New York Jets, 9-7.

The Jets are coming off of back to back AFC Championship appearances. They are bringing back basically the same team, hoping continuity will be what is needed to break through and make their first Super Bowl appearance in over 40 years.

The 2010 Jets won with defense and turnovers. They were not great at rushing the passer, as Bryan Thomas led the team with only 6 sacks. They were unable to add any additional pass rushing help during the shortened off season. The defense was so good because they forced a lot of turnovers. The team tried hard to land Nmandi Asomugha, but had to "settle" for bringing back Antonio Cromartie. He is a Pro Bowl caliber talent with tons of off the field baggage. And by baggage I mean children. Still, he forms the best cornerback duo in the league with Derrell Revis.

What the Jets need to improve on is their offense. It was good, but they just didn't have the firepower to outscore the Steelers and Colts the last two years in the playoffs. The team has finally decided to take the training wheels of Shonn Greene and let him be their work horse. He has a bruising style that should work well with how the Jets like to play offense. LaDainian Tomlinson really wore down late last year, and would be a better weapon with fewer touches. The biggest change on the team is exchanging Braylon Edwards for Plaxico Burress. Edwards has always been an underachiever, so on paper it looks like an upgrade. But what does Burress have left after not playing for two years?

Mark Sanchez returns as the starter, but he is one of the weaker quarterbacks in the league. He has done well for his age, but a Super Bowl team simply needs more production then a guy who can barely complete 50 percent of his passes. He is the main reason I picked the Jets to only go 9-7. He has some good weapons, including Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, but he hasn't shown the ability to even be an above average starting quarterback yet. He is still young and probably will one day, but it's not his time yet.

Rex Ryan's fiery style has worked so far, but for how long? I just think with Sanchez and a defense that can't really get to the passer, it would be a pretty big upset if the Jets made it all the way to the Championship again.

3. Buffalo Bills, 7-9.

Eh, more of the same from the Bills. They haven't had a winning season since 2004 and probably won't break that streak this year. They still lack talent at pretty much every position on the field. Let's take a look at their first round picks since 2004. CJ Spiller, Eric Wood, Aaron Maybin, Leodis McKelvin, Marshawn Lynch, John McCargo, Donte Whitner, JP Losman, Lee Evans. Spiller, Wood and McKelvin are the only three players still on the roster. The rest were released due to horrendous play or traded away for peanuts. It is impossible for a bad team to get better if they just keep whiffing on first round draft picks.

The Bills really didn't do anything right last year. They were 28th in the league in scoring, 28th in the league in points allowed and dead last in turnover differential. There is also little hope for the future with the team refusing to improve on Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. He has been nothing more then an average backup his whole career. He put up some decent fantasy stats playing out of the spread but that won't win any games.

Somehow the Bills did win 4 games and would have beaten the Steelers if Stevie Johnson didn't drop a game winning touchdown. Johnson is the lone bright spot on the offense. He showed to be a deep and across the middle threat, a complete receiver. The Bills recently went ahead and traded deep threat Lee Evans, meaning Johnson will be taken double and triple covered every play. Good move, Buffalo.

So why do I have the Bills at 7-9? I don't know really. The schedule isn't brutal, and I just have a feeling they will be a little better then expected, like the Raiders last year. They are still very bad, but tanking does little good if they draft third down running backs and 230 pound defensive ends in the top 12 every year.

4. Miami Dolphins, 6-10.

And then we come to my favorite team. A team that has used second round picks to draft Pat White, John Beck and Chad Henne, and used them to trade for Daunte Culpepper and AJ Feeley. Now they don't want to pony up for a proven, although not great quarterback in Kyle Orton. So they will run the terrible Henne and Matt Moore out there this season.

The Dolphins do have a lot going for them. The defense, which has long been the strong point for the Fins, was retooled thanks to a couple of great drafts and is now younger and stronger then before. Cameron Wake arrived from the CFL and has developed into one of the most fierce pass rushers in the league. Kendall Langford is a fantastic 3-4 end and Vontae Davis has shown incredible potential as a shutdown cornerback. On offense, they have one of the top offensive tackles in the league. And Brandon Marshall's "bad" season still consisted of 86 receptions for over 1000 yards. Devone Bess has become one of the best slot receivers in the league.

But this will be another long season for us suffering Dolphins fans. I just can't see the offense scoring enough to consistently win games. Henne was dreadful in the Red Zone and just doesn't seem to have the mental aspect to win. He will show glimpses of amazing play, followed by crushing interceptions. Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush replace Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. I just never saw anything from Thomas to make me think he will be special, but it is easy to find running backs. Unfortunately for him, he will have no passing game to bail him out. And the right side of the line looks pathetic with Vernon Carey and Cowboys reject Marc Colombo.

There is talent on this team, but it is so hard to win in this league with poor quarterback play. And I just can't forget the owner publicly courting Jim Harbaugh when he still had a head coach. Tony Sparano has to feel awful about that. Add it all up, and I would be shocked if Miami had a winning record.

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

1 comment:

Answer Man said...

Yes indeed. New England will dominate. With Vareen and Ridley,
both will show exciting performances along with Hernandez at tight end. I expect to see Brady have another stellar season, and now that Mankins signed up for $51 million over the next six years, and includes a $20 million signing bonus!! ($8.5 million per year average, it makes him the highest-paid interior offensive lineman in the NFL), look for some great coverage on the line and Brady will go wild! I agree with 13-3.