There were tons of additions and subtractions to NFL teams across the league this offseason. Many of these moves will significantly impact the divisional standings throughout the year. In this series, we’ll take a look at each division, and where each team in it will end the season.
Check out the Division Predictions of the other NFL divisions:
Buffalo Bills – Predicted Record: 5-11
I feel bad for LeSean McCoy. I feel like he thought he had been on some disappointing Eagles teams. Philly fans can expect a lot, and have high hopes, and yes, they can get upset at underperformance. But that’s better than no expectations, no hope, and resignation at the first sign of terribleness. With a good defense, the additions of McCoy and Percy Harvin, and the return of Sammy Watkins, who had flashes of brilliance in his rookie season, this team is plenty fantasy-relevant. They even added some veteran interior line help, in the form of Richie Incognito. And after all that, once again, it comes down to quarterback play. At least in Harvin and McCoy they have guys who can catch short passes and turn them into long gains, valuable when paired with a defense-stretcher like Watkins, but even with these weapons the Cassel/Manuel combination platter is only going to take you so far. I can see this team losing a lot of close games.
The Two in the Middle
Miami Dolphins – Predicted Record: 8-8
A defense that can rush the passer. A promising young QB. A running back a lot of fantasy experts seem to love. Jarvis Landry. Those are all the arguments for. The arguments against: they had all that last year. So I guess what you’re hoping for is just some significant amount of improvement from Landry and from Tannehill. And I won’t lie, I don’t see it. Landry could get better, but he was already good at what he did, catching 84 balls over the middle. Maybe he gets to 95 this year, but what he won’t do is magically become a 6’3’’ outside, gamebreaking home run threat. Tannehill, for his part, is entering his fourth year, and he seems to have gradually gotten better over that stretch, but his ceiling is Joe Flacco – a QB who could win with all the right pieces around him. Right now, not all the pieces fit.
New York Jets – Predicted Record: 9-7
You’ll probably notice that on most of the teams I see ending the year with winning records, the quarterback is not someone who is going to lose you games. And believe it or not, I think that can be true in New York. The concern is that they ask him to do too much, instead of falling back on their defense and a power, ball-control offense. In a lot of ways, this is the most Rex Ryan Jets team yet, which could turn out to be the perfect group for new Head Coach Todd Bowles – a defensive-minded former Cardinals coordinator. With a defensive pedigree that stretches back to his playing days as a safety for the Redskins, but a very even-keeled demeanor, he could represent a break from only the bad parts of having Rex as the face of your franchise.
The Top Dog
New England Patriots – Predicted Record: 11-5
Why are the Patriots going to win the Division? You know why: Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It would be nice to know how many games Brady is going to miss, but I have two other thoughts on that: 1. I do not believe the Patriots are doomed to an 0-4 start without him and 2. Brady has been quoted many times as saying that the season doesn’t start until Thanksgiving. We just haven’t yet reached the point where it feels realistic to picture the Patriots losing the key games down the stretch they need to secure their spot in the postseason.