The 2021 NFL regular season is almost here. YAAAAYYY!!!!
I’ve been doing the “world’s quickest preview” bullshit the last few years, this time I decided to do an in-depth preview of each division — one at a time. Today I will start with the AFC East.
Predicted order of finish:
- Buffalo Bills (12-5)
- New England Patriots (9-8)
- Miami Dolphins (9-8)
- New York Jets (5-12)
The Bills are clearly the class of the division. QB Josh Allen had a great year last season, largely thanks to WR Stephon Diggs, and got rightfully handsomely rewarded with a HUGE extension this offseason. Now Allen has another year with Diggs, along with a full training camp, to improve upon last season’s breakout performance.
Meanwhile, the Bills’ defense has to improve if they want to take the next step – i.e. get past the Kansas City Chiefs. While Buffalo ranked second offensively, it ranked 14th defensively. Not bad, but the Bills have to really improve its run defense (ranked 17th in the league).
Big Games: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, at Kansas City, at Tennessee Titans, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Was last year an aberration for head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots, or are things slowly heading downhill for the Foxboro crew?
QB Cam Newton was brought in for the inviable task of succeeding the great Tom Brady, and while he had a good start, he fizzled toward the end likely because of COVID-19. Belicheat brought in two free agent TEs to rekindle a Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez thing. The only thing is will it be Newton or first round pick Mac Jones throwing them the rock?
The Patriots will be getting back last year’s opt-outs on defense, so it will be all on Newton (or Jones) and the offense to lead them back to the playoffs. It will be tough in an improved AFC East.
The Dolphins are looking to capitalize on last year’s second place finish, but will QB Tua Tagovailoa take the next step this season? If he improves, Miami’s ceiling in the division and playoff picture will be much higher.
I have faith in head coach Brian Flores. The defense needs to improve, but Flores is leading them in the right direction. If the defense improves, like the offense, so will Miami’s chances. This season will rest on Flores and Tua.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this out loud, but the Jets look like they are on to something. I may not have liked the selection of QB Zack Wilson (not his fault, of course), but I like the new coaching staff, led by Robert Saleh. It may be still a long season in New York, but soon the word “Jets” may no longer stand for “Just End The Season”.