2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: AFC East (Woodhull)
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Here are my 2013 AFC East predictions with final records:
1. New England Patriots: 11-5
Surprise, the Patriots defense is good again. The Patriots are now solid at the two corner positions with Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard, both available for full season (assuming they stay healthy and out of trouble). Rookie LB Jamie Collins has been impressive and he joins second-year player Chandler Jones.
Despite all the questions on the offensive side of the ball (Wes Welker leaving, Rob Gronkowski injured, Aaron Hernandez legal trouble, etc.), they will be solid. They have Tom Brady and they can run the ball.
And they are so good at running the ball, the Patriots might be best rushing team in NFL in 2013. Despite the reputation as team that throws the ball, the numbers and personnel don’t bear it out. The Pats were actually seventh in the NFL rushing last year and this team is anchored on left side of the line by Nate Solder at tackle and Logan Mankins at guard.
As is always the case, the Patriots will be focused (regardless of the level of distraction from Hernandez) and roll through a weak division on their way to another playoff run.
2. Miami Dolphins: 6-10
There are a lot of pundits expecting a pop this season from the Dolphins free-agency splurge.
They spent big money on WR Mike Wallace and LB Dannell Ellerbe. The Dolphins chose to spend their money on bringing in Wallace and Ellerbe instead of retaining their existing top talent. They lost Jake Long, arguably the best young offensive tackle in the NFL, and they also let their best defensive back, Sean Smith, leave in free agency.
Letting Long go to St. Louis left a huge hole on the line, which is especially problematic with a young QB, Ryan Tannehill. Needing more time in pocket, they added a speed receiver running deep patterns that will take too long to develop.
Furthermore, they reached for Dion Jordan in draft. Jordan is raw and coming off shoulder surgery, so he’ll add little value to the team this year.
This is a team that is at least another year away.
3. New York Jets: 4-12
Parden the pun, but the Jets are in a holding pattern for Rex Ryan, as I view him on borrowed time. New GM, John Idzik, will want to bring in his own guy and the win-loss record last year should have been enough to get Ryan fired. A replay of last year will leave ownership no alternative, but to fire Ryan.
Prior GM Mike Tannebaum was working cap magic for years, and now most of the talent acquired a few years ago has walked and it will take years to replenish. Even the limited attempts to grab players in free agency and draft, have failed at adding talent in the places needed (O-line, D-line, linebacker).
I hope and expect Dee Milliner will make us forget Darrelle Revis, but everywhere else the Jets will struggle with aging players (David Harris, Calvin Pace) and whiffed draft picks - Quinton Coples is on his way to being a bust and there are doubts about Sheldon Richardson. All this disorganization and uncertainty is before we get the climax of dysfunction: the Mark Sanchez/Geno Smith QB calamity in waiting.
4. Buffalo Bills: 3-13
We are in the first year of Doug Marrone and the Bills are complete rebuilding project again. It would not surprise me if they end the year with the worst record in the NFL (I suspect their saving grace will be the weak division).
Everyone is looking for a bigger dose of C.J. Spiller this year, but I expect it to be a tough go for him this year. The Bills left guard, Andy Levitre and arguably best offensive player (realistically second after Spiller), left in the offseason. They’ll look to fill that hole with Colin Brown or Doug Legurksy, but neither option anywhere near as good as Levitre.
Ultimately this year is a tryout period for a lot of players and I expect the team to starting looking for reasons get E.J. Manual in at QB.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.