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Today, we’ll be focusing on the AFC East. Since 2001, the Patriots have won the division a jaw-dropping eleven times. This year, there’s reason to believe that the Pats won’t be able to make it an even dozen. Of course, the No.1 reason for that is the (pending) suspension of star quarterback Tom Brady. If Brady is unsuccessful in his appeal, he will wind up sitting out the first four games of the season. Understudy Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a slouch and there’s more to the game than the QB, but his absence in September could give the rest of the division a nice head start if things don’t go well.
Brady may or may not be under center to start the year, but there are other key Pats from years past that will be elsewhere in 2015. Darrelle Revis, one of the very best cornerbacks in the game today, returned to where it all started when he signed a monster contract with the Jets. Running back Shane Vereen, meanwhile, joined up with the Meadowlands’ other tenant when he agreed to join the Giants. Add in the departures of Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork, Dan Connolly, and Stevan Ridley, and this year’s Patriots team looks pretty darn different than it did a year ago.
This year, the Jets will be bolstered by more than just the addition of Revis. For starters, Revis is once again joined by his former partner in crime – Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie had his ups-and-downs in New York, leading to his exit after the 2013 season, but he regained his footing in 2014 with the Cardinals. In the draft, the Jets might have gotten the best player in the entire class at No. 6 when they selected USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams. On the other side of the ball, the Jets added a high profile wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and picked up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as a backup plan in case Geno Smith has another awful start.
Not to be overshadowed by the rival Jets, the Dolphins signed star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the top free agent on the open market. Whether Suh’s bloated deal was worth it is up for debate, but there’s no denying that Suh makes Miami’s defensive line much, much better. On offense, the Dolphins also welcomed new names such as former Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills, who some believe has the athleticism to be a real difference maker in the NFL. Veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings will be there to help guide stud rookie DeVante Parker and tight end Jordan Cameron also figures to be a focal point of Ryan Tannehill‘s passing offense.
Meanwhile, Buffalo has borrowed heavily from it’s AFC East rivals to put together what could be a very fierce squad in 2015. Of course, ex-Jets coach Rex Ryan is at the helm and he appears to be bringing a culture change to Western New York. Offensive additions Percy Harvin (Jets), tight end Charles Clay (Dolphins), and guard Richie Incognito (Dolphins) will be familiar to divisional foes and could help to transform the Bills into a playoff contender. The Bills’ defense has the talent to be amongst the very best in the league, something that Ryan has become accustomed to thorough his stops with the Jets and the Ravens. But, as Ryan also experienced in New York, the quarterback situation leaves something to be desired.
So, all in all, who do you see winning the AFC East and why? Let us know in the comment section below!