2016 NFL Preview and Predictions: AFC East

AFC East

Past Five Champions

2015: New England Patriots, 12-4
2014: New England Patriots, 12-4
2013: New England Patriots, 12-4
2012: New England Patriots, 13-3
2011: New England Patriots, 14-2

2015 Standings

1. New England Patriots, 12-4
2. New York Jets, 9-7
3. Buffalo Bills, 8-8
4. Miami Dolphins, 6-10

2016 Predictions

1. New England Patriots, 12-4. The Patriots - probably, maybe - will be without Tom Brady for the first four games of the season, but in the long run, it should not matter. They will win the division for the eigth consecutive season. It is all about Bill Belichick, Brady and the scheme in New England. Martellus Bennett joins Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelmen on what should be a dynamic offense, and the defense is good enough to hang on. It will be all about the playoffs for New England. For all of the regular season success, New England has only won one Super Bowl since 2004.

2. New York Jets, 7-9. It is more of the same for the New York Jets, who are supremely deep in certain areas and fatally weak in others. The Jets success may hinge on whether Ryan Fitzpatrick ultimately returns to New York. You know you are in trouble if your success hinges on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick runs Chan Gailey's offense well, and has quite a few weapons to throw to, including newcomer Matt Forte. On defense, the Jets could have the best defensive line/secondary combination in the NFL. This team needs to get after the pass rusher. The Jets have hung around the level of mediocrity since back to back AFC Championship losses, and I do not expect that to change this year.

3. Buffalo Bills, 5-11. Buffalo has not made the playoffs this century, and obviously I do not see that drought ending this year. The best thing the Bills have going for them is a very strong rushing game. The trio of LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams and Mike Gillisle may be the best in the NFL, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor can run as well. Rex Ryan's defense was a shell of the 2014 version that was among the best in the league. Without much pass rushing talent, and a mediocre secondary, I am predicting that the defense will be the teams undoing this season.

4. Miami Dolphins, 4-12. The Dolphins stumbled to a pathetic season in 2015, and the talent looks even worse this year. One thing Miami has going for it is Adam Gase, who was an inspired and smart head coaching choice. Unfortunately, the front office was up to it's same tricks, and the roster is as unbalanced as ever. Ryan Tannehill needs a strong offensive line and running game to mask his weaknesses, and the Dolphins have neither. On defense, Miami curiously chose to let Olivier Vernon walk and sign Mario Williams, who gives the Dolphins two big name defensive lineman who are known to quit on teammates. The secondary is in shambles. As a Dolphins fan, I could go on and on, but this has the looks of a disastrous season in South Beach.

Jonathan Carrano

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