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With all the activity going on with the NFL, even before the draft, it's looking the the AFC East my have the highest potential all around of the divisions. A few years ago it was all about the AFC South with the unstoppable Colts, the ferocious Jaguars, The collosial Titans, and yes, even though they had the worst record of the AFC South teams, the Houston Texans were a force with a .500+ record outside of the division. It seems though the stigma has worn off of that, with the less than remarkable stats of the south, with the exception of the Titans, last season. Watching what's going on the world of free agency and the status of current players with the AFC East, it seems that they have the potential to have the type of season the the AFC South enjoyed having a few seasons ago I'll share some insight on my picks for the top two teams in the East.
First off let's look at the Patriots. Tom Brady, after last season's devastating injury, will be back at the helm. Even though he may be a bit more careful in the pocket from now on, he'll always be a threat to throw the ball and with the receiving talent he has. Who wouldn't? Randy Moss is big, fast, and has the best hands in the league, in my opinion. Wes Welker is sturdy, reliable and has the ability to get overlooked. They may need to look into the draft in getting a tight end with good blocking, and receiving ability. They've also brought in Fred Taylor from the one-two run punch Jaguars. He's a powerful back that can open up the play action options even more for a dangerous pass team, and also in vice versa, with Taylor being the big powerful RB he is, he's also fast. They've done a huge shakeup in their linebacking corp, giving up 5 LB's to free agency and the trade of Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs (Vrabel has been a cornerstone of the New England defense for years). With last season's departure of Asante Samuel, I feel that the Patriots' secondary is softer than it has been. The secondary's talent is still young, and that is something that experienced receivers can capitalize on. Good Old Bill Belichick never goes into a season without a plan. As long as he's the coach, you can never be sure about how soft his corp is.
Next let's look at the Bills. In my opinion, they may have drawn a double edged sword in their acquisition of Terrell Owens. For a team like them, this may have a better impact that most people would want to admit. First off, T.O. is a receiver that most people would want in regards to him on paper. He's a big, strong, and fast receiver and when he's in the groove he makes plays happen. A receiver like that can train a team's quarterback. Trent Edwards is like any other young QB. Good talent, but can be prone to mistakes. When T.O. is reliable, he can make up for the errors that Edwards can make with some remarkable athleticism. Then you have the the ridiculously smart Marshawn Lynch (barring any actions taken by the NFL for his recent legal problems) will continue to make huge gains as a up and coming star running back. He makes effective use of his blocking and when the field opens up, he put's on his racing tires and kicks it into the next gears really fast. Factors like him will improve T.O.'s mood because when the defense bites on a play action, then all you have to do is find find your open man for fairly easy yard. Like the Patriots, i think the Bills' defense is a bit soft, but capable of coming around. There's plenty of room to grow.
As for the teams, I won't go into as much detail into the Jets and Dolphins. They aren't without their merit. I think that they still have a few seasons to go, before they can have the level that the Patriots and Bills have. The final retirement of Brett Favre leaves the Jets in a bit of a spot in the QB and overall leader department. I hope that their offseason coaching change helps them. The Dolphins should start looking for a new QB as well since Chad Pennington has never been a long arm and age is starting to set in on him. With careful acquisitions in the draft and maybe a little look into free agency more they should both finish this season at or above .500.
By: Joseph Herrera
Camp Taji, Iraq