2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: AFC East (Yanotchko)
Here are my 2013 AFC East predictions:
1. New England Patriots (schedule): 11-5
The Patriots start the year with many questions on offense, as they are missing the following pass catchers from last year: Rob Gronkowski (likely for opener, possibly more), Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Danny Woodhead.
Although the Patriots are getting younger on the offensive side of the ball, it is their defense that will finally start to catch up with the offense's performance of years past. The Patriots will have a great front-seven anchored by Vince Wilfork and also are stout up the middle with one of the best middle linebackers in the game in Jerod Mayo.
Although the Patriots seem to have more questions than answers at the start, they still have the best coach in the league, and Tom Brady under center, and they have no real challenge in the AFC East.
2. Miami Dolphins (schedule): 9-7
The Dolphins are certainly primed to take a big step forward this year, as they have some fresh faces and a new uniform look as well. The Dolphins have one of the best defensive units in the NFL, hands down, as they have one of the best pass rushers in Cameron Wake who welcome stalwart Dion Jordon, and former Atlanta corner Brent Grimes.
Miami's weakness however is on the offensive side of the ball, as they struggle to find a rushing game with either Lamar Miller or Daniel Thomas. Yes, the Dolphins finally have that home-run threat to stretch the field in Mike Wallace, but I think they will really miss departed All Pro Jake Long in both pass protection, and for establishing the run.
Joe Philbin is a solid head coach, but I still feel the 'Fins are a few players away from challenging New England.
3. Buffalo Bills (schedule): 8-8
I did predict the Bills to surprise everyone last year and make the playoffs, and of course, we all see how that one played out.
It is absolutely a new day in Buffalo, as they have a new GM in Doug Whaley and new head coach Dough Marrone. The Bills will hopefully start a rookie QB in E.J. Manuel, granted he recovers from his "minor knee surgery" after week two of the preseason.
The Bills have some great defensive pieces in Mario Williams and All Pro Jairus Byrd, it just remains to see if new coordinator Mike Pettine from the Jets will tighten that unit up. The Bills are finally pointed in the right direction, but they are still a year or two away from the playoffs.
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4. New York Jets (schedule): 3-13
It seems that the Jets have gone from bad to awful, and now have progressed to horrible in this preseason, and they will be right in the thick of the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes.
The good news is that they still are one of the best defensive units in the game, and have a legitimate All Pro candidate in Muhammad Wilkerson. The Jets will really struggle on offense to score points as either Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith haven't looked like they even want the starting QB job. The Jets may start the season without Santonio Holmes for now, and they lack even a capable No. 2 wide receiver as Jeremy Kerley is a slot guy at best.
The Jets had overspent on the cap, and now those moves are coming back to bite them as they had to trade Darelle Revis, and they are still struggling to dig out from Mike Tannenbaum's overspending. Let the rebuilding project commence, but get your popcorn ready as the Jets will be great theatre this year.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.
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