In 2014, the AFC East belonged to the New England Patriots who went on to win Super Bowl XLIX in one of the most exciting season finales the NFL has seen. They finished with a 12-4 record, going 4-2 in the AFC East and are projected to yet again win the division. The Buffalo Bills finished second at 9-7 and also had a 4-2 record inside the division. The Miami Dolphins broke even in 2014 at 8-8 overall and 3-3 in the AFC East. The Jets woefully finished 4-12 with a 1-5 record against their divisional opponents and it looks like we could see a repeat of 2014 during the upcoming 2015 season.
New England Patriots
As long as Tom Brady is on the roster, the New England Patriots will be favorites to win the AFC East each year and this year is no different. After winning the Super Bowl last season, the Patriots return with most of their roster in tact. Cornerback Darrelle Revis left to return to the New York Jets and nose tackle Vince Wilfork left for the Houston Texans as the Patriots decided not to pick up his contract option. New Englands 2015-16 season could come with some drama as the fate of Brady’s #deflategate scandal still hangs in the balance. He could be out for the first four games pending the conclusion of the appeals process. Despite Brady’s impending absence, the Patriots are still -151 to win the East outright.
If Brady is indeed out for all four games, that paves the way for the Jets, Dolphins and Bills to make a run at the division title. The Bills are building off of a surprise season last year in which they produced one of the best defenses in the league. With new head coach Rex Ryan at the helm, their defense could be scary good this year. The only remaining concern is at quarterback, in which the Bills still don’t have a clear no. 1 option between EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo is hoping LeSean McCoy, who was acquired from the Eagles in a trade this offseason, can produce big numbers on the ground at running back while the Bills find their starting quarterback. Buffalo has been listed at +424 to win the AFC East.
Miami is currently listed at +400 to win the division but could see considerable improvement after landing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency this offseason. Suh is one of the best defensive players in the league and will solidify an already impressive defensive line. They also signed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to an extension after finishing his rookie contract. They’ll expect Tannehill to really make a jump this year after not quite living up to expectations of being the no. 8 overall pick in the 2012 draft. He may have issues finding someone to throw to as the Dolphins currently don’t have many offensive weapons, which could doom them in their odds to win the East.
New York Jets
The Jets had an abysmal season last year and it’s not likely they’ll right the ship in just one off season in which they didn’t do much to fix their glaring problems. Todd Bowles is in his first year as head coach with the Jets and should do a lot to keep consistency on the teams one strength: defense. Darrelle Revis returns to the roster and should shore up the secondary to support an already very good defensive line. Unfortunately, the Jets still haven’t found the answer at quarterback. Geno Smith is clearly not the answer as he’s failed to show any competence at the NFL level. It’s going to be another rough year for the Jets. They currently sit at +744 to win the AFC East.
How Will the AFC East Teams Rank for the 2015/16 Season?
Even if Tom Brady is forced to sit out the first four games of the regular season, it’s still likely the Patriots end up winning the AFC East. They are the most complete team on both sides of the ball and one of the best teams in the league coming off another Super Bowl win. The real race will be for second and third place between the Bills and the Dolphins with Miami barely edging out Buffalo. The hole at quarterback is too big for the Bills to compensate with solid defense while Miami is starting to find consistency with roster and coaching staff. Unfortunately for Jets fans, New York is likely to finish last. The team is in a bit of disarray after cleaning house in the front office and coaching staff while also having trouble finding any answer to their quarterback situation.