August 23, 2004

Let's play some Football! AFC East

Now that we’re done with the College predictions, lets move on to the NFL. These are harder, since other than abour 4 teams at the top and 4 teams at the bottom, everyone in the NFL could finish anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6. That’s parity for you.

AFC East

Up until about a month ago, the East looked like a competitive division, with the Dolphins battling the Patriots for the division crown, with the Jets and Bills fighting to stay out of last. Now, with the sudden disintegration of the Dolphins offense, this seems like New England and the three dwarves.

1-New England Patriots
All you really need to know about Tom Brady is that he’s 16-1 as a starter in games decided by a touchdown or less. He has masterful control of coordinator Charlie Weis’ offense, one that is just as likely to throw 50 times or 15. With the inclusion of RB Corey Dillion and the continuing maturation of a talented group of wideouts, the Pats will continue to score in bunches.

New England is even better on defense, if that’s possible. Head coach Bill Belicheck and DC Romeo Crennel run a flexible scheme that identifies each opponent’s weakness and attacks it mercilessly. Defensive lineman Richard Seymour, with three years and two Super Bowls under his belt, might be the best defensive player in football right now

The Patriots could win as many as 13-14 games, and are an even-money favorite to make it three out of four Super Bowls.

2-Miami Dolphins
The Fins made it an off-season priority to improve their feckless offense, picking up QB AJ Feeley from the Eagles, and WR David Boston from the Chargers. Then the roof fell in. First star tailback Ricky Williams retired, to find himself, smoke a ton of weed, or play for the Raiders, or perhaps a combination of all three. Then Boston blew out his knee. Then Feeley really, really stunk. Then the gaping hole at WR caused Miami to trade young stud DL Adewale Ogunleye for the good-but-not-great Marty Booker.

Oh yeah, the O-line is completely rebuilt, and could start two rookies.

Things are much better here, if MLB Zach Thomas can get healthy, and someone along the DL can take advantage of Jason Taylor being double and triple teamed. The secondary is one of the best in football, though CB Sam Madison has not played up to expectations the last couple of years. This will be a very trying year for the Dolphins D: they know they have very little margin for error.

It could be a disaster for Miami this season, as more and more Dave Wannstedt has the look of a Dead Coach Walking. Best-case scenario has Feeley improving enough to be trusted with the offense, and the defense being sold enough to take the team to 9-7 and a Wild Card. It is more likely the team finishes with seven or fewer wins.

3-New York Jets
This is Chad Pennington’s team completely now, as Curtis Martin continues to slow down. Pennington is custom built for the West Coast Offense, though coordinator Paul Hackett drives Jet fans up the wall with his play calling sometimes. The Jets finally replaced LaveranuesColes, signing free-agent Justin McCairens from Tennessee. It will be switch for him, as the West Coast offense will require him to go over the middle, instead running sideline fly patterns.

Head Coach Herman Edwards takes a big risk this year, hiring Ravens DB coach Donnie Henderson to install an attacking, Baltimore style defensive instead of the Cover 2 that Edwards cut his teeth on while at Tampa Bay. The new D will work if the four former first round draft picks manning the D-Line (John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Bryan Thomas and Dewayne Robertson) play to their potential.

The Jets will show signs of growth this year, but fall short. Expect a .500 year, and a ton of pressure on Edwards in 2005.

4-Buffalo Bills
The Bills offense consists of Travis Henry and very little else at this point. And Henry, the best tailback nobody ever talks about, is looking over his shoulder at the very rusty Willis McGahee. If McGahee starts this season for any reason other than a Henry injury, it’s to try and make the team look less stupid for wasting a number 1 pick. Drew Bledsoe was totally beaten down last season, and may not have anything left in the tank. The drafting of Lee Evans, who should lessen the pressure on Eric Moulds, and shove JR Reed to the slot where he belongs, will help him. The offensive line seriously underachieved last season, and new line coach Jim McNally should help.

In the middle of the line, the Bills will be old and large, after signing Sam Adams (31 years, 335 pounds) joining Pat Williams (32 years, 315 pounds). On the edges, they have speed in Aaron Schobel, but opposite of him, in Phil Hanson’s old spot, there is a collection of nobodies. The Bills due feature a fantastic linebacker corps, led by Takeo Spikes, who features one of the best football names ever. In the secondary, the Bills replace a young All-Pro corner (Antoine Winfield) with an old All-Pro corner (Troy Vincent). As good as Vincent has been, this isn’t a good swap.

I don’t get the Bills right now. They keep talking like this is a team a few steps away from the playoffs, then stupidly sent a 2nd and a 5th round pick to move up for JP Losman, who won’t be ready for 2 years at the earliest. The lost 10 games last year, yet owner Ralph Wilson has talked about “no excuses” this year. Admittedly, this team is at least 1-2 wins better without Gregg Williams, who was totally overmatched as a head coach, but it still isn’t that great a team.

Posted by Frinklin at August 23, 2004 06:18 PM

Incidentally, you spelled Mr. Coles' name incorrectly; it's properly spelled "Laveranues." Yes, really. Believe it or not. Even though it sounds like "Laverneus." I have no idea what his parents were thinking.

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at August 23, 2004 09:22 PM


Posted by: frinklin at August 23, 2004 09:40 PM

Okay..that's fixed. Thanks Fred

Posted by: frinklin at August 23, 2004 09:41 PM
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