2019 NFL Predictions: AFC East

Now it’s time to look at the division that has probably made the most changes throughout the offseason. The Jets, Dolphins and Bills have all made several moves this offseason with one goal in mind. That’s to unseat the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. 

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“Miami Dolphins Mario Williams – Buffalo Bills Mike Gillislee” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed for public domain.

In case you forgot, the New England Patriots won another Super Bowl this past February. It was probably one of the uglier Super Bowls in history. Nonetheless, that’s not the biggest thing everyone is talking about with the Patriots.

There’s been a lot of news on the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins lately too, but they’re going in opposite directions this season. I’ll explain that more in each section. I think all eyes are on the New York Jets and their newest RB Le’Veon Bell. They seem to be the top contenders to unseat the Patriots. Can they do it?

 

1. New England Patriots

 Last season’s record: 11-5 

Postseason Result: Won Super Bowl (13-3) against the Los Angeles Rams

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • DE Michael Bennett (Philadelphia)
  • DE Mike Pennel and S Terrence Brooks (N.Y.  Jets)
  • TE Matt LaCosse and RT Jared Veldheer (Denver)
  • TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jacksonville)
  • TE Benjamin Watson (New Orleans)
  • WR Demaryius Thomas (Houston)
  • WR Cameron Meredith (New Orleans)

Drafted:

  • WR N’Keal Harry (32nd)
  • CB JoeJuan Williams (45th)
  • DE Chase Winovich (77th)
  • RB Damien Harris (87th)
  • QB Jarrett Stidham (133th)

Offseason Departures:

  • Retired TE Rob Gronkowski
  • DE Trey Flowers (Detroit)
  • OT Trent Brown (Oakland)
  • DT Malcom Brown (New Orleans)
  • WR Chris Hogan (Carolina)
  • DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta)
  • WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson (Chicago)
  • TE Dwayne Allen and CB Eric Rowe (Miami)

The Big Question:

When you win six Super Bowl titles in 19 years with the same QB-coach duo, there’s not much you need to question about your team. However, given three factors, the Patriots even have some questions. One factor is the age of QB Tom Brady and how much longer he’ll continue to play. Factor two is the injury to C David Andrews and the offensive line. The final factor is the retirement of TE Rob Gronkowski.

Despite all these factors, the Patriots will likely still finish atop the division and have one of the best records this year. I think they have plenty of offensive weapons, so they don’t need to worry about who to get the ball too, so let’s look for them to make another run at a Super Bowl.

Prediction: 12-4

 

2. Buffalo Bills

Last season’s record: 6-10

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • C Mitch Morse (Kansas City)
  • WR John Brown (Baltimore)
  • WR Cole Beasley (Dallas)
  • TE Tyler Kroft (Cincinnati)
  • G Spencer Long and WR Andre Roberts (N.Y. Jets)
  • G Jon Feliciano (Oakland)
  • OT Ty Nsehke (Washington)
  • RB T.J. Yeldon (Jacksonville)
  • CB Kevin Johnson (Houston)
  • OT LaAdrian Waddle (New England)
  • RB Frank Gore (Miami)

Drafted:

  • DT Ed Oliver (9th)
  • OT Cody Ford (38th)
  • RB Devin Singletary (74th)
  • TE Dawson Knox (96th)
  • LB Voseasn Joseph (147th)
  • CB Jaquan Johnson (181th)

Offseason Departures:

  • RB LeSean McCoy (Kansas City)
  • G John Miller (Cincinnati)
  • TE Charles Clay (Arizona)
  • RT Jordan Mills (Miami)
  • TE Logan Thomas (Detroit)
  • RB Taiwan Jones (Houston)
  • RB Chris Ivory (Free Agent)

The Big Question:

This defense proved they’re worthy of being amongst the top in the league. This defense led the Bills to a Wild Card spot two years ago, despite their struggles on offense. The offense continued to struggle a lot last season as well. With a new QB in Josh Allen and an offensive line that could not protect, it was hard for Allen to get things going.

The Bills spent a lot of time this offseason trying to improve their offense. They drafted another OL in Cody Ford and signed a young RB to work with Allen. They also got two WRs who are proven veterans to help control the game on offense. With all these changes that have been made by the Bills, I really like Josh Allen’s chances to became an elite QB this year. He could likely help lead his team to a playoff spot again.

Prediction: 9-7

 

3. New York Jets

Last season’s record: 4-12

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh)
  • ILB C.J. Mosley and Ty Montgomery (Baltimore)
  • G Kelechi Osemele
  • WR Jamison Crowder (Washington)
  • C Ryan Kalil and K Chandler Catanzaro (Carolina)
  • WR Josh Bellamy (Chicago)
  • G Tom Compton and QB Trevor Siemian (Minnesota)
  • CB Brian Poole (Atlanta)
  • TE Ryan Griffin (Houston)

Drafted:

  • DT Quinnen Williams (3rd)
  • LB Jachai Polite (68th)
  • T Chuma Edoga (92nd)
  • TE Trevon Wesco (121th)
  • LB Blake Cashman (157th)
  • CB Blessuan Austin (196th)

Offseason Departures:

  • CB Morris Claiborne (Kansas City)
  • QB Josh McCown (Philadelphia)
  • WR Jermaine Kearse (Detroit)
  • G James Carpenter (Atlanta)
  • CB Buster Skrine (Chicago)
  • K Jason Myers (Seattle)
  • RB Isaiah Crowell (Oakland)
  • C/G Spencer Long and WR Andre Roberts (Buffalo)
  • DE Mike Pennel and S Terrence Brooks (New England)
  • TE Clive Walford (Miami)
  • OLB Jeremiah Attaochu (Kansas City)

The Big Question:

The Jets have improved themselves in a huge way at the RB position with Le’Veon Bell. We hope to see him help the young Jets offense win more games, but we also don’t really know what to except from Bell after he was sitting out a year due to his holdout with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Will Bell be able to get himself back into the form he was with the Steelers in 2017? He’s the key to the success of the Jets’ offense. He came to New York for a new beginning, and he has the abilities to be the best RB in the league when he has his head straight.

Having a young QB and WRs like Sam Darnold, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, the Jets could put up some solid offensive numbers. It’s the questionable play calls and defense that worries me about this team, but hopefully they get a few more wins than a season ago.

Prediction: 7-9

 

4. Miami Dolphins

Last season’s record: 7-9 

Postseason Result: N/A 

Offseason Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tampa Bay)
  • TE Dwayne Allen and CB Eric Rowe (New England)
  • TE Clive Walford (N.Y. Jets)
  • QB Josh Rosen and DE Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona)
  • RT Jordan Mills (Buffalo)
  • WR Allen Hurns (Dallas)
  • G Chris Reed (Jacksonville)
  • WR Ricardo Louis (Cleveland)

Draft:

  • DT Christian Wilkins (13th)
  • G Michael Deiter (78th)
  • LB Andrew Van Ginkel (151th)
  • T Isaiah Prince (202th)
  • RB’s Chandler Cox (233) and Myles Gaskin (234)

Offseason Departures:

  • QB Ryan Tannehill and DE Cameron Wake (Tennessee)
  • OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills (Traded to Houston)
  • LB Kiko Alonso (Traded to New Orleans)
  • RT Ja’Wuan James (Denver)
  • RB Frank Gore (Buffalo)
  • WR Danny Amendola (Detroit)
  • DE Andre Branch (Arizona)
  • DE William Hayes and G Josh Sitton (Free Agent)
  • TE A.J. Derby and DT Sylvester Williams (New Orleans)

The Big Question:

Do I need say more… The Dolphins have traded away their best chance to win games this year. They went from having a nice looking offensive team, to a “let me hang out in South Beach for a year” team. The Dolphins traded QB Ryan Tannenhill away and got QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen in return. That doesn’t do anything if you don’t have anyone to protect or catch the ball. 

That’s why the offense is going to be one of worst in the NFL, despite having Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage in the backfield.  I can’t see much coming from the Dolphins offense. That’s why I have them as the worst team in the league. After trading OT Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills, my decision was made.

Prediction: 4-12

 

Predicted Division Standings

  1. New England Patriots (12-4)
  2. Buffalo Bills (9-7)
  3. New York Jets (7-9)
  4. Miami Dolphins (4-12)

2018 NFL Predictions: AFC East

Tom Brady
Mr. Brady” by Brook Ward is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

By Mickayeen Farner

 

1. New England Patriots

2017 Offseason and Review

Record: 13-3 (first in AFC)

Postseason Result: Took a Philly Special and an L to the face in Super Bowl LII

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • RB Jeremy Hill (from Bengals in free agency)
  • OT Trent Brown (from 49ers in trade)
  • OT Matt Tobin (from Seahawks in free agency)
  • C Luke Bowanko (from Ravens in free agency)
  • DE Adrian Clayborn (from Falcons in free agency)
  • DT Danny Shelton (from Browns in trade)
  • CB Jason McCourty (from Browns in trade)
  • OT/G Isaiah Wynn (drafted in first round)
  • RB Sony Michel (drafted in first round)

Offseason Departures:

  • RB Dion Lewis (to Titans in free agency)
  • WR Brandin Cooks (to Rams in trade)
  • TE Martellus Bennett (retirement)
  • OT Nate Solder (to Giants in free agency)
  • OT Cameron Fleming (to Cowboys in free agency)
  • DE/OLB James Harrison (retirement)
  • CB Malcolm Butler (to Titans in free agency)
  • S Johnson Bademosi (to Texans in free agency)
2018 Preview/The Big Question:

The Big Question: Can Tom Brady continue winning battles against Father Time?

Obviously, the man played at an insanely high level en route to his third NFL MVP award of his career, all while being over 40 years old. Can Brady, the widely considered greatest quarterback of all time (I don’t consider him as such, just for the record, but that’s a different article for a different day), repeat, or even come close to what he did in the 2017 season? Short answer: kind of.

Here’s what I think will happen with Brady: He’s going to look good the first part of the season, but then there will be one game in the middle of the season that will challenge him and we will see him start to decline, see: Manning, Peyton. Since Peyton/Brady narratives are so common, I’ll throw one in here. Many remember the 2015 regular season game Peyton had in Denver against the Chiefs. You know, the one where he was 5/20 for 35 yards and threw FOUR interceptions in the first half? Chiefs fans like to try to sell that game being the beginning of the end for Peyton, but let me take you back about a year before that.

On November 16, 2014, the 7-2 Denver Broncos traveled to St. Louis to take on the then 3-6 St. Louis Rams. Peyton wasn’t quite as good as he was in 2013, but had still been very good in his first nine games, completing 69.3 percent of his passes, passing for an average of 323.5 yards, 3.2 touchdowns, and .78 interceptions per game. That’s a pace of over 5,000 yards, 51 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions for a whole 16-game season. Again, not as great as his 2013 season, but very spectacular nonetheless.

Then he went to St. Louis and completed 63 percent of his passes going for only one touchdown and two interceptions and 389 yards (which had to happen because the Broncos were losing, so he threw 54 times). The averages of his last eight games, including the Rams game and the Broncos’ home loss to the Colts looks like this:  63.7 percent complete for 253 yards, 1.4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. That’s a pace of 4,048 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions over a whole 16-game season. That’s about what Blake Bortles did last season, except Bortles threw for a little less yardage and a little less interceptions. Peyton went from being classic Peyton to Blake Bortles within the same season. The overall numbers looked fine, completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 4,727 yards, 39 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.

Yes, I did just take a section about the Patriots to talk about the Broncos. Hey, it’s in my nature. But there is a point to be made here, and it is that I believe this is going to be what Brady’s season will look like. I don’t know which team, but I think we will be able to look at one game this year and say, “Yeah. That’s when it started to go for him.” I don’t have a prediction of who that team will be; the Rams were 3-6 and a middle-of-the-pack defense before they rattled Peyton. So it could be any team, really, but I do think this is the year Tom loses to time, but the overall numbers won’t necessarily show it.

This doesn’t spell complete doom for the Patriots, though. They play in a weak division and will fairly easily make it to the playoffs again, but I think they’re going to be participating in Wildcard Weekend with a 10-6 record. Here’s my prediction for the six losses: Any one of the Jets, Bills, or Dolphins will beat them on the road, Texans, Chiefs, Packers, Vikings, and Steelers.

Either that, or Alex Guerrero will continue working his Human Growth Horm…er…magic with Brady and he will continue being immortal and the Patriots will win 14 games. But since I spent more time on the former prediction, that’s the one I’m sticking with.

Prediction: 10-6

 

2. Buffalo Bills

2017 Offseason and Review

Record: 9-7 (second in AFC East; second wildcard)

Postseason Result: Lost 10-3 in an absolute yawn-fest of a game in which their starting quarterback went out. If you listen, you can probably hear Bills Mafia still jumping through flaming tables in celebration of making the playoffs, though.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • QB Josh Allen (drafted in first round)
  • RB Chris Ivory (from Jaguars in free agency)
  • WR Jeremy Kerley (from Jets in free agency)
  • OT Marshall Newhouse (from Raiders in free agency)
  • C Russell Bodine (from Bengals in free agency)
  • DE Trent Murphy (from Redskins in free agency)
  • DT Star Latulelei (from Panthers in free agency)
  • Vontae Davis (from Colts in free agency)
  • CB Philip Gaines (from Chiefs in free agency)
  • S Rafael Bush (from Saints in free agency)
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds (drafted in first round)

Offseason Departures:

  • QB Tyrod “it’s pronounced TUHrod” Taylor (to Browns in trade)
  • FB Mike Tolbert (free agent, remains unsigned)
  • WR Jordan Matthews (signed with Patriots, released because of injury and/or not being very good)
  • OT Cordy Glenn (to Bengals in trade)
  • G Richie Incognito (partly retired…yeah, we’ll leave it at that)
  • CB E.J. Gaines (no relation to Philip; to Browns in free agency)
2018 Preview/The Big Question:

The Big Question: How will Josh Allen look when given the chance?

I’ll get to Josh Allen in a bit.

Second place in this division was hard to pick because they all just kind of suck. I have to give it to the Bills, though, because they were in the playoffs last year. Their defense got better with the additions of Star Latulelei, Trent Murphy (if he comes back to what he was before his injury), and first-round pick, Tremaine Edmunds. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that their offensive line is hot garbage, and my theory is that they’re starting Nathan Peterman over Josh Allen as fodder for opposing defenses to feast on. Because of that, and the fact that he is now on the wrong side of 30, LeSean McCoy won’t be as productive as he has been in the past, which will be a big blow to what has been an already anemic offense. Tyrod Taylor was not a bad quarterback, but they sure treated him like one as they acquired two quarterbacks in the offseason (A.J. McCarron has been traded since) and shipped Tyrod to Cleveland so that we can all learn how to pronounce his name correctly. What a nice gesture by the Bills front office!

The offense is going to be worse, and even when Allen gets his chance after Peterman’s body is in ribbons on the sideline in the mysterious concussion tent, we have to keep in mind that even though Allen can throw a football about as fast as Aroldis Chapman can throw a baseball, Allen is still a rookie and will have some growing pains. In fact, with the offensive line situation, Buffalo was probably the worst place he could have gone.

Did I mention the offensive line is terrible? At least they have a good defense, which will keep them in a decent amount of games.

Prediction: 7-9

 

3. New York Jets

2017 Offseason and Review

Record: 5-11 (last in AFC South)

Postseason Result: The curse of the butt fumble continues.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • QB Sam Darnold (drafted in first round)
  • RB Isaiah Crowell (from Browns in free agency)
  • CB Trumaine Johnson (from Rams in free agency)
  • ILB Avery Williamson (from Titans in free agency)
  • C Travis Swanson (from Lions in free agency)
  • WR Terrelle Pryor (from Redskins in free agency)
  • ILB Kevin Minter (from Bengals in free agency)

Offseason Departures:

  • RB Matt Forte (retirement)
  • TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (to Jaguars in free agency)
  • C Wesley Johnson (to Lions in free agency)
  • DE/DT Muhammad Wilkerson (to Packers in free agency)
  • ILB Demario Davis (to Saints in free agency)
2018 Preview/The Big Question:

The Big Question: Is Sam Darnold the real deal?

Yes, but just like Allen, he is a rookie and there will be growing pains. He struggled with turnovers in college and that is very unlikely to change dramatically in the NFL his first season. He can make all the throws and will be playing behind a much better line than the Bills (I promise that’s my last shot at the Bills’ offensive line), which means he will be able to get more throws up without getting sacked as often. The only problem other than him being a rookie, is the fact that Robby Anderson is the best receiver he will be throwing to; the depth at wide receiver is not good.

The defense was not good, but also not terrible last year, and it got better because of the addition of players like Kevin Minter. Not sure if there is much else of interest to say about the Jets. Darnold is the only reason for anyone to watch this team, but they will be a bit better than people might think.

Prediction: 7-9

 

4. Miami Dolphins

2017 Offseason and Review

Record: 6-10 (third in the AFC East)

Postseason Result: They really were hurt by the departure of Vance Joseph and missed the playoffs without him.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • QB Brock Osweiler (from Broncos in free agency)
  • RB Frank Gore (from Colts in free agency)
  • WR Albert Wilson (from Chiefs in free agency)
  • WR Danny Amendola (from Patriots in free agency)
  • G Josh Sitton (from Bears in free agency)
  • C Daniel Kilgore (from 49ers in free agency)
  • DE Robert Quinn (from Rams in trade)
  • S Minkah Fitzpatrick (drafted in first round)
  • TE Mike Gesicki (drafted in second round)

Offseason Departures:

  • QB Jay Cutler (reality show…uh…retirement)
  • WR Jarvis Landry (to Browns in trade)
  • TE Julius Thomas (retired, and if you don’t know why, look it up- it’s fascinating)
  • C Mike Pouncey (to Chargers in free agency)
  • DT Ndamukung Suh (to Rams in trade)
  • ILB Lawrence Timmons (remains unsigned)
  • S Michael Thomas (to Giants in free agency)
2018 Preview/The Big Question:

The Big Question: Will Adam Gase still have his job at the end of the season?

No. These guys are going to be a mess. Ryan Tannehill was a top-fifteen quarterback in the league when he played his last full season. However, the talent level around him is much worse now than it was when he was there or even than it was last year.

Robert Quinn and Minkah Fitzpatrick will help the defense out, but there aren’t any other moves they made that will improve them. Maybe Cutler for Tannehill, but the numbers won’t be dramatically better. Their offensive line is worse, their receivers are worse, and their overall team is worse. That does not spell good things for a team that went 6-10 last year.

Prediction: 4-12

 

PREDICTED DIVISION STANDINGS:

  1. New England Patriots (10-6)
  2. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
  3. New York Jets (7-9)
  4. Miami Dolphins (4-12)