NFL Division Preview: AFC East

For the past 20 years, New England Patriots have been dominating the AFC East. The Patriots have only lost the division 3 times since the year 2000.

This domination continued in 2018 as the Patriots finished the season 11-5 on the way to their sixth Super Bowl. The division very much belongs to the Patriots and will likely continue to until Brady and Belicheck call it a career.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While the Patriots have been running the table, the rest of the AFC East has suffered.

in 2018, we saw the Miami Dolphins finish 7-9, the Buffalo Bills 6-10 and the New York Jets 4-12 in 2018. These sort of final records from these three teams has been a common occurrence during this time period.

While Miami came out of the gate hot, winning 5 of their first 7, reality caught up with them, and they underachieved to finish the year. The Buffalo Bills couldn’t make a decision at QB and with the injury to Josh Allen, were forced to start Nathan Peterman, almost guaranteeing no chance at victory. Finally, simply put, the Jets were straight-up lousy (however injuries did not help).

With 2018 in the books, it’s time to recap each team’s off-season moves:

New England Patriots

Top draft picks: WR N’Keal Harry, CB Joejuan Williams, DE Chase Winovich, RB Damien Harris

Key pick-ups/re-signings: DE Michael Bennett, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Dontrelle Inman, WR Maurice Harris, TE Ben Watson, LB Jamie Collins, WR Julian Edelman, DT Danny Shelton, S Patrick Chung

Losses: TE Rob Gronkowski, DE Trey Flowers, OT Trent Brown

Miami Dolphins

Top draft picks: DT Christian Wilkins, G Michael Deiter

Key pick-ups/re-signings: HC Brian Flores, OC Chad O’Shea, QB Josh Rosen, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, TE Dwayne Allen, CB Eric Rowe, WR DeVante Parker

Losses: QB Ryan Tannehill, DE Cam Wake, OT Ja’Wuan James, WR Danny Amendola, G Josh Sitton, RB Frank Gore

Buffalo Bills

Top draft picks: DT Ed Oliver, G Cody Ford, RB Devin Singletary, TE Dawson Knox

Key pick-ups/re-signings: C Mitch Morse, WR Cole Beasley, WR John Brown, RB Frank Gore, OT Ty Nsekhe, G Quinton Spain, C Spencer Long, G John Feliciano, CB Kevin Johnson, CB E.J. Gaines, OLB Lorenzo Alexander

Losses: G John Miller, DT Kyle Williams, TE Charles Clay

New York Jets

Top draft picks: DT Quinnen Williams, OLB Jachai Polite

Key pick-ups/re-signings: HC Adam Gase, OC Dowell Loggains, RB Le’ Veon Bell, WR Jamison Crowder, LB C.J. Mosley, OG Kelechi Osemele, DE Henry Anderson, CB Brian Poole

Losses: G James Carpenter, CB Buster Skrine, DT Mike Pennel, C Spencer Long, LB Darron Lee

What improvements should we expect to see in 2019?

New England Patriots

It’s tough to improve upon a Super Bowl win, but the Patriots, as always, will be in a prime position to repeat. There are some questions about their pass-catchers beyond Julian Edelman and James White. and their lead RB Sony Michel is having some minor knee complications. However, with an elite offensive line, Brady and Belichick, it shouldn’t matter who runs the ball and catches the ball. The Patriots will get it done.

There is no reason to think the Patriots don’t have a chance to repeat in 2019. They should easily win the division and get their playoff shot. Once Bill Belichick and company are in the playoffs, their chances of winning the Super Bowl are as good as any. They should see 10 or 11 wins in 2019, staying consistent with years past.

Miami Dolphins

A lot of question marks surround the Dolphins going into 2019. They did not make many improvements overall, but after flirting with mediocrity for years, they appear to be doing the right thing, tanking.

There should be very few improvements going from 2018 to 2019 but making the decision to the tank and acquire picks and look to the future can be seen as an improvement on itself. In 2019, the Dolphins won’t likely see the seven wins they saw in 2018, but that is more than fine because they are doing the right thing and look ahead.  

Buffalo Bills

After ending the year with a capable Josh Allen at QB, the Bills seem poised to make a run at finishing second in the division in 2019. They picked Josh Allen 7th overall in the 2018 NFL draft and appear to be doing everything they can to support him.

The Bills added six offensive linemen in free agency and the draft and added two very capable pass catchers in John Brown and Cole Beasley. They made it very clear they want to support Josh Allen and that see him as their franchise QB. The Bills should see improvement from their six wins in 2018 and could easily see themselves finishing 8-8, hitting that .500 mark.

New York Jets

The Jet’s almost certainly overpaid both Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley, although there is no question they will make this team better. While personnel undoubtedly improved from 2018 to 2019, the coaching did not. In a baffling move, the Jets brought in failed HC Adam Gase.

Gase was awful in Miami for several years and frankly did not deserve another shot. However, the Jets will benefit from having one the leagues easiest 2019 schedules and fielding a sneaky talented team, on paper. Luckily improving upon a four-win season should be easy. Look for the Jets to win six or seven games in 2019.

Favorite to win this division?

The favorite to win the division has got to be the Patriots. No other team improved enough to challenge New England in 2019. Las Vegas would agree as they have the Patriots over/under set at 11 wins, more than any other team in the NFL. For reference, the Jets are at 7.5 wins, Bills at 7 wins and Dolphins at 5.

Tyler’s favorite to win the division?

See above. As long as Belichick is running the show and Brady is at QB, this is the Patriots division, as it has been for the last 20 years. We are witnessing one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time, albeit, the tail end of it. Enjoy it while you can, you will be telling your kids about it.

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