The New England Patriots have been penciled in as the AFC East Champions for the up coming year. If your not Joe Namath you should probably stay away from the predicting and guaranteeing business. That however is an arguement that I would hear out. The Patriots have owned the regular Season in the AFC for a decade. That doesn't mean they will win the AFC this year, but it looks pretty good. Coming off of a Super Bowl appearance that they were one incompletion away from winnning is another reason to think they will be on top. Many like their Draft picks, but they haven't struck gold too often. The Patriots may be the top dog, but who could possibly challenge them?
The New York Jets have been the only thorn in the Patriots side for the past few years, and the match up is one of the biggest rivalries in Football today. The Bills snapped a ver VERY long losing streak against the Pats and have made some huge improvements to their roster. The Miami Dolphins are still in the gutter, so it seems as if this is going to be a three team race this year for the AFC East Title and Wild-Card Playoff spots. The Bills finished 6-10 last year which was expected while the Jets finished 8-8 which was a dissappointment. The New England Patriots will have to worry about both teams this year, but which AFC East underdog will have the better year? Well, who has the better team?
The Jets are spearheaded by a Defensive minded Head Coach while the Bills are lead by an Offensive minded Head Coach. Chan Gailey is an above average Offensive Coach while Rex Ryan is arguably the best if not the second best Defensive mind in the NFL over the past 10 years. The Jets will be in the top 5 in overall Defense for as long as he is the Coach of the Jets as they have been since Rex Joined the team in 2009. Gailey hasn't had such an impact. Gailey does seem to be just what the Bills need though, but the better Coach is leading the Green and White.
No other position on the field is more important than the Quarterback. The Jets have been talked about as a team on the cusp of having a QB contraversy ever since they pulld off a trade for Tim Tebow. The Bills however may fall in the same boat since they signed Vince Young this year as their backup. Young has won more games than the Bills curren starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and if it wasn't for a clash with his former Head Coach he would still be the starter with the Titans. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart and capable QB. He grasps the Offensive system and makes the most out of his throws. He is not elite, but he can be dangerous at times. Tim Tebow is with the Jets to run the Wild-Cat. He will not replace Sanchez as the starter, so we will move right along. Sanchez is harder to figure out. He is more physically gifted than Fitzpatrick, but he makes some pretty bone headed throws. He is younger and not as seasoned, but he has a higher ceiling. Sanchez had career numbers even though he played behind the worst Right Tackle in the NFL last year, an injured LG, a Center on a bad ankle for a few games and zero deep threat at the WR postion. Sanchez may or may not have a huge year, but for now the edge goes to Fitzpatrick.
The Bills Offense was hurt badly when starting Running Back Fred Jackson ended his season early due to injury. He may have finished the year as the #1 RB in the NFL. The Jets got their first 1,000 yard season from Shonn Greene who ran behind the same Offensive Line that hampered Sanchez. The Bills have another star on Offense in WR Stevie Johnson. He was the only WR to make Darrelle Revis look Human last year. If one of the other WRs can become a threat opposite him the Bills Offense could really open up. They still have issues on the Offensive Line, but a strong running game from Jackson and back speedster CJ Spiller can mask that problem. The Bills run a spread Offense which will test most opponents secondary. The Jets have a new Offensive Coordinator in Tony Sparano. The team will return to the ground and pound that lead them to two back to back AFC Championship games. This should take the pressure off of Sanchez. The key will be new WRs Stephen Hill and Chaz Chillens. If either can come in and use their 6'4 heights and 4.3 speed to be a vertical threat opposite Santonio Holmes then the passing game can have huge plays this year that they haven't had since the departure of Braylron Edwards. Of course if Wayne Hunter has another dismall year then none of that matters. The Bills will have the better Offense this year unless Shottenheimer really was the reason for the Jets poor performances on Offense.
So far nothing besides the Coaches has been a clear cut winner. Much has been made of the Bills aquisitions on Defense. Bringing in DE Mario Williams and DE Mark Anderson from the Patriots was a big bold move that should have Bill fans very excited. They now have one of the premier pass Rushers in the League on their team and another up and comer. The Bills are also switching back to a 4-3 Defense which will help Kyle Williams return to his natural position and Marcel Dareus should be even better than he has been when he returns to the middle. The Bills also Drafted CB Stephen Gilmore to help out an already decent Secondary. The Bills will have a better year on Defense and it may be the strength of the team. The Jets already had a dominant Defense and Head Coach Rex Ryan has already stated that he will be more hands on this year. If he was last year the Jets would have went from 5th in Defense to 1st. The Jets added players to fix their weaknesses on that side of the ball. Safety LaRon Landry is a question mark due to his injury, but when healthy is one of the best Safeties in the League. The Jets also added another big hitting Safety in Yeremiah Bell. Two Rookies were drafted at the position as well, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. DE Quinton Coples fell to them in the 1st Round of the Draft and they Drafted Demario Davis and ILB with 4.5 speed in the 3rd round. What makes these moves so impressive is that they are just add ons to an already dominant and impressive group. Darrelle Revis is hands down the best CB in the NFL today and they have another #1 Corner opposite him in the 2 spot by the name of Antonio Cromartie. The Jets easily have the best secondary in the NFL and their Defensive Line looks better than mosts. Sione Pouha is a dominant run stuffer that demands double teams, and 2nd year DE Muhammad Wilkerson will be much improved after a full off season. Marcus Dixon is an above average Role player and Mike Devito will not come off of the bench and that just adds to the depth. The scary member of this group is Quinton Coples who is and athletic freak. The Jets will mix up their Defense and create havok for the opposition. The Defense will be the best in the League this year and could be the best in the last decade depending on injuries. I have no clue why people aren't talking more about this defense. I guess that Tim Tebows new socks are a bigger story to the "experts" but the Defense alone is enough to put the Jets over the Buffalo Bills.
You have to give credit where it is deserved. The Jets were a fractured team, but that was last year. The Defense is a min stay for as long as Rex is there and there won't be a team this year that performs well against them. Be afraid......be very afraid.