With NFL Training Camp underway and preseason games just days away, on paper every team still has a chance to hoist the Lombardi trophy in February. While in reality, most teams will know its fate by about Week 3 or 4, there is always excitement for this time of year. Here is why the fanbase of each AFC East team should be excited.
Bills Mafia, you did it. You reached the playoffs and proceeded to not mess it up too bad in the offseason. Buffalo finally may have a franchise quarterback in Josh Allen, without having to give up any draft picks, and then added Trumaine Edwards at 16 overall from Baltimore. While the rest of the draft was rather ho-hum for the Bills, adding Chris Ivory and Vontae Davis on short term deals could be beneficial to returning to the postseason in 2018-19. The AFC East is one of those divisions that seems to be a race for second until Father Time catches up to Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Dolphins always seem to have their nose in contention and the Jets are the Jets. Bills fans can expect this team to have ups and downs but be very entertaining down the stretch.
The Dolphins are a team that is hard to gauge where they will be in 2018. The Patriots still rule the AFC East until further notice, and I refuse to bet against Tom Brady until proven otherwise. Ryan Tannehill is back under center for Miami, and they hope to get back on track where it left off in 2016 before the failed Jay Cutler experiment set the team back in 2017. Gone is Jarvis Landry, one of Tannehill’s most dangerous weapons, but replaced by Danny Amendola, the scrappy slot man from New England.
The Dolphins defense was mediocre last season, 16th in yards allowed per game, which is not a bad spot to be, considering the time spent on the field. Miami also lost Ndamukong Suh, who clogged up the middle at a level few others have in their NFL careers. While many may not recognize too many of the names of this year’s draft class, one stuck out. In the first round, with the 11th pick overall, Miami selected Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama. This pick alone could end up terrorizing offenses in the AFC East for years to come. The Dolphins are on its way to eventually taking over the AFC East. 2018 will be a make or break year for guys like Tannehill, DeVante Parker and head coach Adam Gase, so Miami fans should either be ready for a run, or a fresh start once again.
New England Patriots
Is it really an NFL offseason if there isn’t some sort of Patriots drama? Pats fans should be excited the season is finally starting and all of the questioning of Bill Belichick and his tough coaching methods finally stops until next February. Should Malcolm Butler have played in the Super Bowl last year, yeah probably. Will I question “The Hoodie” about it, absolutely not. Another offseason and everyone is still obsessed with things like how long will Brady play, is Gronk going to the WWE, do the Patriots regret trading Jimmy G. Enough already.
The New England Patriots are the class of the AFC and there is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Tom Brady has showed no signs of slowing down, Julian Edelman will be returning to the lineup of scrappy receivers, they have the absolute animal that is Rob Gronkowski that probably should be in the WWE or a full time shark expert, and at the helm of all of this, a man whose hooded sweatshirts are almost as legendary as his non-answers with the media and permanent scowl. As if that wasn’t enough, the Patriots always seem to replace what they lost in free agency. Brandin Cooks out the door? Enter Eric Decker, Cordarrelle Patterson and Braxton Berrios. No more Dion Lewis? Here comes Jeremy Hill and Sony Michel. The list goes on. It’s incredible. If he had to, I’m sure Brian Hoyer could win games with this team, if Brady went down. It might be too early to write the Patriots into the Super Bowl, but at this point, it is almost an expectation.
New York Jets
Gang Green, not the worst sports team in New York last season, congrats! While Jets fans may have wanted to go into full tank mode, it was not to be after a red hot 3-2 start. In fact, at times the Jets seemed like it was only a good quarterback away from being a playoff team. Other times, this team looked like it should have been contending with Cleveland for the top pick. I honestly feel for Jets fans having to endure this sometimes. The AFC East is a sneaky talented division with New England ruling the roost on top, with the Bills being a playoff team in 2017, and the Dolphins in the mix.
While the Jets had the 25th ranked defense in 2017, numerous free agents will be donning the Green and White to improve that team. Trumaine Johnson and Avery Williamson join the staff on defense, with Terrelle Pryor, Teddy Bridgewater, and Isaiah Crowell looking to put points on the board. Back to that point of being a quarterback away, the Jets got what they hope to be their guy with Sam Darnold in the Draft, joining the QB room with Bridgewater and cagey veteran Josh McCown. 2018 will be an interesting year for New York, as this is a talented team, but they need to put the pieces together. I’m not sure how the Jets will fair this year, but at the very least, an improvement on the 5-11 team of last year should be expected.
Only one team will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy in Atlanta in February. Could it be your team? Let me know why you’re excited for your team in 2018.
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