AFC East Picks, Preview and Predictions
2014 AFC East Division Winner:
New England Patriots (-475 at Justbet Sportsbook)
2014 AFC East Division Preview & Summary: The Patriots continued their dominance in their division last year, even in what appeared to be a down year. On offense, very little has changed from last year except they are healthy. If Shane Vereen and rob Gronkowski can stay healthy all season, which is a tall order, they will compete for a Super Bowl again this season. On defense, however, there have been big changes. Revis Island has replaced Aqib Talib. Passing on this team may be difficult especially if you consider DE Chandler Jones who broke out last year with 11.5 sacks. Vince Wilfork is back and has to recover from Achilles surgery after 30 years old. The Patriots will always be AFC East favorites as long as Belichick and Brady are on the team, and if they can steay healthy they will be a Super Bowl contender again this season. The Miami Dolphins offense is largely unchanged from last year too, with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline as Ryan Tannehill’s main receiving options. The running game was awful last year and was supposed to be helped by the signing of Knowshon Moreno, who needed surgery and could miss the start of the season. This team has a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball which is not good news for coach Josh Philbin who is entering a contract year under a new GM. The Jets were a .500 team in 2013 and overachieved to get there. QB Geno Smith’s development is key to this teams success after having his fair share of ups and downs last season. Eric Decker came from Denver to give them their most viable receiving threat in years and an aging Chris Johnson will share carries with Chris Ivory. Their defense is still one among the top half in the league and will need to carry the Jets to a few wins if they’re going to surpass their 8-8 mark a year ago. Like Miami, the Jets were 8-8 last year, both have a ton of questionmarks on both sides of the ball and both coaches are probably going to be fired after the season unless there is marked improvement. We don’t see that level of success coming for either team. Finally, the Buffalo Bills who quietly led the NFL in sacks last season behind a great front seven. New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will only help this team and their defense could make one of the biggest steps forward of any team in the league this season. Their biggest problems are on the other side of the ball where an above average running back duo in Fred Jackson and the often injured C.J. Spiller will need to continue their success from last season. The Bills may be in their best position in a long time to make serious improvements and cross the 8-8 threshold, but too much of that is reliant on second year QB EJ Manuel who needs to get over his rookie problems staring down recievers to have any hope of success. The Bills will surprise some people this year finishing ahead of New York and Miami, but they’re still a long way from competing with the Patriots.
2014 AFC East Final Standings Predictions
1. New England Patriots 11-5 (Odds to Win AFC East -475 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2. Buffalo Bills 8-8 (Odds to Win AFC East +1150 at Carbon Sportsbook)
3. Miami Dolphins 7-9 (Odds to Win AFC East +785 at Carbon Sportsbook)
4. New York Jets 6-10 (Odds to Win AFC East +854 at Carbon Sportsbook)
2014 AFC East Final Thoughts: There is a power shift on the horizon in this division similiar to the AFC South. The Patriot dynasty is getting older and older, and the Dolphins and Bills are knocking at their doorstep, though they’re not quite there yet. The Bills will see a solid season from its defense, but their lack of receivers and a young quarterback will keep them from achieving the next level. The only way the Jets are going to win games this year is to have their defense score touchdowns, because we don’t see their offense scoring too many.