Like the fall turning into winter and winter turning into spring season, it seems like a Patriots division title is a yearly occurrence. Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick rule over the AFC East with no mercy. The team so many love to hate is consistent as the change of seasons. This year we may have the same result but it will be a lot more interesting.
The Patriots will win the division. They had a strong group of free agent signings that will make them stronger defensively. Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner will help the secondary. Will Smith is a very underrated signing that will help the defensive line. Last season New England managed to have a competent defense despite injury after injury. The 2014 Patriots have bigger goals than just competent performance from their defense. Last season Tom Brady showed how remarkable he really is. He led the Pats to an AFC Championship appearance with a pedestrian set of offensive weapons. Much with the Patriots offense is up to Rob Gronkowski staying healthy. When healthy, New England can have a special offense. When he is on the sideline its just good.
The Patriots may have more competition than they’ve had in recent years. The New York Jets hit a home run in free agency and had a remarkable draft. Michael Vick is not a great quarterback, but he gives the offense a sense of legitimacy that Geno Smith couldn’t provide. He also has small flashes of brilliance. Erik Decker is a very good and reliable receiver. The Jets also got a big matchup nightmare tight end of their own, when they drafted Jace Amaro. Amaro and Jeff Cumberland make one of the best tight end duos in the league; expect to see a lot of 12 personnel sets from the Jets. The Jets also signed veteran running back Chris Johnson. They focused heavily on offense this offseason. They went 9-7 last season with abysmal quarterback play. With the major improvements they have made they can possibly be a 10 win team if they just get serviceable play from Michael Vick.
The Dolphins are going to be competitive, but I predict they finish third in the AFC East. Once again the Dolphins were players in free agency. They signed two decent cornerbacks in Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes as well as Louis Delmas at free safety. Their biggest splash was getting Brandon Albert to be their left tackle. The Dolphins draft was mainly a head scratcher, but Jarvis Landry will be a productive receiver. They drafted two tackles in Ja’Waun James and Billy Turner and they are expected to start one of them at guard. Miami was an 8-8 team last year and I don’t think much has changed. They will be better on defense but the offense still has some question marks. I still am hesitant to say they’ve addressed their offensive line problems correctly. The Dolphins are in my eyes behind the Patriots and the Jets. With a tough schedule it will be hard for them to make the playoffs.
The Bills got better offensively drafting a superstar in Sammy Watkins. They also added former Buccaneer, Mike Williams. This should help bring along the young EJ Manuel under center. The Bills lost Jairus Byrd in free agency which was a blow to the defense. The moral of the story (long story short) is that Buffalo will be an exciting team to watch but they are not quite there yet.
While we will likely get the same result of a Patriots division title it will be more interesting than usual. The Jets will make a strong push and be in the mix for a wild card spot. It would not be a stretch to see Miami in the hunt as well. It should be a fun 2014 season in the AFC East.