The AFC East has been dominated over the last decade by the New England Patriots, with the New York Jets knocking on the door as of late. The Miami Dolphins have had their moments, and the Bills continue a rebuilding process that has spanned the better part of the last decade as well. This season, it looks like the top of the division will remain the same, with the Jets and Patriots battling it out for the division and ultimately the Super Bowl. The Dolphins and Bills, although still developing, don't look like pushovers however with a Dolphins defence threatening to become elite and the Bills making improvements on both side of the ball.
Tom Brady; QB New England Patriots: I'm sure this is probably the most obvious of any question we'll have throughout this preview. Brady is coming off a truly historic season that saw him throw for 36 touchdowns to an incredibly low 4 interceptions. His rating was far and away the best in the NFL, and he finished off the season with a second MVP award. The season ended tragically however, with another one and done playoffs with an embarrasing loss to the Jets, but this season Brady looks poised to add yet another ring to his already impressive collection.
Darrelle Revis; CB New York Jets: Revis could be the most valuable commodity in the NFL today. A player that virtually eliminates half of the field, and in the process, the opposing teams number one threat in the passing game. This gives feisty head coach Rex Ryan a chance to truly do some exotic things and send some exotic blitzes on defence and do it knowing that that side of the field is on lockdown.
Albert Haynesworth; DT New England Patriots: Haynesworth's problems in Washington could be all forgotten if he buys into what Belichick wants to do, and after all, has anyone ever not bought into it? People forget just how dominant Haynesworth can be, and how unstoppable he appeared at times in Tennessee. If he can be even half the player he was for the Titans, he gives the Patriots a pass rusher that they desperatly need. He'll just be another cog in the system that makes the Patriot as great as they are.
Rookie of the Year
Marcell Dareus; DT Buffalo Bills: Chan Gailey held back on the temptation to take one of the many quarterbacks in the draft and, I believe, made the right call when he took Dareus with the third overall pick in this year's draft. Dareus is a menacing gap filler and the best player in the draft when you take into account the ability to stop both the run and rush the passer. He filled a huge need for the Bills, whose run defence was historically terrible last season. His presence in the middle, along with newly acquired Nick Barnett, should shore up the middle of the defence in Buffalo that was in terrible need of repair.
Shonn Greene; RB New York Jets: It looks like Greene is finally going to get his shot at being an everydown back this year, and I believe he's got all the tools necessary to succeed. In a Jets system where it's more of a power run game as opposed to a speed one, Greene should be able to elongate drives for Rex as well as help out Mark Sanchez. He also shouldn't have trouble finding his touches, as the Jets are one of the few run-first teams in the NFL, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him reach the 1,200 yard mark this season if all goes to plan.
Ryan Fitzpatrick; QB Buffalo Bills: Last year, the Harvard graduate came out of nowhere and was actually somewhat good for an otherwise dismal Bills team. This year, with teams giving himself and Stevie Johnson a little more respect, we could see him take a step back to right around the level we all expected him to play at. Maybe if Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller can take the running game to another level he can continue his stellar play, but he'll be hard pressed to do so now that he's not sneaking up on anyone.
October 9th, 2011; Week 5 - New York Jets v. New England Patriots: These two teams return to Gilette stadium where the Jets bounced the Patriots from the playoffs, and this will be crucial in who holds the keys to the division. Look for the trash talk to continue, and the game to produce some of the best football we'll see this season with the winner looking like the favorite in the division heading into the middle part of the 2011 season.
1. New England Patriots (13-3)
2. New York Jets (11-5)
3. Miami Dolphins (6-10)
4. Buffalo Bills (5-11)
The Patriots will again be the cream of the crop in the AFC, and should have trouble winning yet another AFC East title and securing a bye in the playoffs. The Jets will again finish behind their rivals down south, but should make yet another wildcard apperance in the playoffs and will have to go the road route yet again if they plan on making good on their promise to bring home a Super Bowl. The Dolphins have a stout defence, and it should perform well but with an offence that has no prover every down back and a quarterback in Chad Henne who has yet to truly find his place in the NFL, they could struggle. The Bills have gotten better then they were last year but that won't translate to too many more wins with a fairly difficult schedule and having to play the Jets and Patriots four times.