Here's Your 2016 AFC East Preview
Ain't found a way to kill me yet
-- Alice In Chains, Rooster
Is there any doubt who that line refers to?
Embattled Patriots QB Tom Brady is finally serving a four-game suspension for Ballghazi after a nearly two-year slodge of investigation, hearings, subpoenas, appeals, lawyer-speak, and suffering the wrath of Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Not to worry, Foxboro faithful, Brady's only missing games against the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans, and Bills.
Luckily, dude will return in Week 5 against the Browns. What a way to shake off the rust.
The rest of the AFC East can only hope Brady has an off-year. 2008 was the last time a team not named New England won this division, and they technically tied with the Dolphins at 11-5.
Don't count on 2016 when the Patriots fall off the face of the Earth. Expect Brady to come back like a man possessed and stick it to the rest of the league for one of the most ridiculous suspensions ever handed down.
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Can these Upstaters end the NFL's longest current playoff drought?
Hard to believe the last time this team saw January football was the alleged Music City Miracle.
In fact, the Bills have had just two winning seasons since 1999. They were 8-8 last season, but that isn't a winning record, now, is it?
And you thought losing four straight Super Bowls was an incredible feat.
WR Sammy Watkins needs to remain healthy, and über-productive. QB Tyrod Taylor needs to live up to the hype and his contract extension if the Bills are to do anything this year. RB LeSean McCoy needs to keep his mouth shut and carry the rock like he did in Philly.
What will head coach Rex Ryan bring to the table in year two besides his brother?
At least the dude's colorful and entertaining.
What are we going to do with you Miami?
The old saying, Get off to a fast start doesn't apply in 2016 with road games at Seattle and New England. 0-2 is a given.
Another road game at Cincinnati in Week 4, and 1-3 is a given. Luckily for Miami, they get to play Cleveland in Week 3.
As tough as the schedule is to start the season, it turns extremely favorable starting Week 5 at home against the Titans.
Consecutive games against Buffalo, the Jets, Chargers, Rams, and 49ers could put them in position for a Wild Card berth. They'll need the Patriots to stumble out of the blocks -- along with the rest of the AFC East -- due to Brady's suspension.
Each new season brings a renewed sense of hope, and the Dolphins are no different, having hired former Broncos Offensive Coordinator, Adam Gase as their latest head coach.
Can he work his magic on QB Ryan Tannehill and turn him into an elite QB? Gase was fortunate having Peyton Manning run the show in Denver -- and he really did run the show -- but Tannehill has yet to take the next step towards becoming the franchise QB that Miami hoped he'd be when they drafted him No 8 overall in 2012.
Tannehill has some interesting weapons at his disposal, including a strong WR group featuring Devonte Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Rishard Matthews. He'd be wise to look TE Jordan Cameron's way early and often, as defenses are sure to key in on the WR's. RB Jay Ajayi will be the starter, with Arian Foster adding some quality veteran depth.
The o-line needs to step up, not only to protect Tannehill, but to help a young RB gain confidence. Center Mike Pouncey is the anchor of this unit, earning three straight Pro-Bowl nods. First-round draft pick, Laremy Tunsil needs to stay off social media and step away from the bong.
If Tannehill is to shake the ghost of Dan Marino, this is his year to do so. No pressure! Everybody knows it's that damn Dan Marino's fault!
At least they get to play the Bills twice.
New England Patriots
Has there been a more consistent, winning franchise in NFL history?
The Pats have been above water every year since 2001, when you-know-who took the reins. That means the last time they were sub-.500 was 2000!
Belichick & Co have:
- produced four consecutive 12-4 seasons,
- won ten or more games each season since 2003,
- won seven straight division titles, competed in five straight AFC Title games, and
- were Super Bowl champions in 2014.
Let that soak in for a minute.
Nobody knows how this season will play out with the Golden Boy suspended for the first four games.
After opening on the road in Arizona, New England returns to Foxboro for three straight home games against Miami, Houston, and Buffalo, so if Jimmy G can manage a 2-2 record, most experts, ie- fans, would consider that a victory.
You can pretty much count on New England for another winning season and a playoff berth, because once Brady comes back, watch out. He has a lot to prove, including the fact that most everybody that breathes air thinks he's a cheater on the level of Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.
The Brady-Gronk connection will resume in Week 5 in Cleveland. Do you see a pattern forming here?
At least they get to play the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets twice.
New York Jets
Lastly, we come to the New York Football Jets and their much-maligned fan base.
A culture of losing, ineptitude, and flat out apathy has set in, and booing your own draft picks makes matters worse, although it is a colorful tradition.
In typical Jets fashion, they barely got their starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick under contract for 2016.
What was Plan B? Geno Smith?
The QB depth chart is clear as mud since the Jets drafted Penn State slinger Christian Hackenberg in the second round after drafting Baylor chucker Bryce Petty in the same round in 2015. It's like throwing spaghetti at the wall.
Signing RB Matt Forte adds another candidate to a strong backfield, and WR's Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker give Fitzpatrick plenty of targets.
However, the strength of this team is the defense led by Revis Island and one of the best defensive lines in the league. Muhammed Wilkerson is coming off his first of many Pro-Bowl selections, and if Sheldon Richardson doesn't get his act together, second year player Leonard Williams is primed to step in.
Richardson will be suspended the first game under the league's personal conduct policy due to his arrest after a high-speed chase in his home state of Missouri. It's amazing he didn't serve jail time for driving at ludicrous speed -- upwards of 140 -- with his 12-year-old nephew in the back seat, a loaded gun under the driver's seat, and a strong marijuana odor emanating from the vehicle.
Not cool, dude.
The Jets haven't won a Super Bowl since Broadway Joe led them to a championship in 1968, and they haven't been back since.
There is zero chance of the Jets making the playoffs in 2016, and zero is a number, kids.
At least they play the Bills twice. UmmmBut what difference does it make?