AFCÂ East 2009 Preview
1. New England Patriots – 12-4 #1 seed
Key Additions: Tom Brady, Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway
Key Losses: Rodney Harrison, Jabar Gaffney, Matt Cassel, Ellis Hobbs
Key Draft Picks: Patrick Chung, Darius Butler
Overview: The Patriots were hard luck losers last year, finishing 11-5 yet being left out of the playoffs because the Dolphins won the division. Why am I picking the Patriots to win the AFC East this year? They finished 11-5 with a QB who hadn’t started a game in 7 years, since he was in high school! Tom Brady went down week one with a torn ACL but since the Patriots traded away Matt Cassell (for nothing I might add) I would assume Tom Brady will be nothing less than 100% entering this season. The addition of the no longer fragile Fred Taylor and the suddenly fragile Joey Galloway should help out an offense that started 4 different running backs last year including an unsigned rookie free agent.
The defense will be improved from last year with the drafting of Patrick Chung and Darius Butler to fill in for the retired Rodney Harrison and the traded Ellis Hobbs. I think the Patriots can be just as good as they were in 2007, they won’t go 16-0 but I think Tom Brady feels he has something to prove this season and he will throw for 40+ TDs in the very difficult AFC East.
2. Miami Dolphins – 9-7
Key Additions: Jason Taylor, Gibril Wilson
Key Losses: None
Key Draft Picks: Vontae Davis, Pat White
Overview: The Dolphins are the defending AFC East Champs and return nearly everyone from that championship team, but that team got stomped by Baltimore in the first round of the playoffs and will have a lot to prove this season if they want to return to the playoffs. The Dolphins don’t have any flashy players on their team but that didn’t seem to hurt them last year. The addition of Pat White to come in and play in the Wildcat offense should keep things interesting for opposing defenses.
2nd year head coach Tony Sparano was a hard luck loser in the coach of the year award last year, think of him as the pitcher who gives up one unearned run in 9 innings pitched and gets the loss.Â The key to the Dolphins turnaround last season was their +17 turnover differential. Chad Pennington did a great job taking care of the ball, throwing only 7 INT, he also finished 2nd in the MVP voting.
3. New York Jets – 6-10
Key Additions: Lito Sheppard, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott
Key Losses: Brett Favre, Mike Nugent, Lavernaues Coles, Calvin Pace (4 games)
Key Draft Picks: Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene
Overview: There is a lot of hype surrounding the Jets this season with new head coach Rex Ryan and first round pick Mark Sanchez but I think the Jets struggle this season, especially with another year on the legs of Thomas Jones, no Lavernaues Coles and especially no Brett Favre. People forget that Favre was magnificent last year until he hurt his elbow.
The Jets will stay in a 3-4 scheme on defense but will be hurt by the suspension of LB Calvin Pace for 4 games although the addition of Bart Scott will help immensely. I predict struggles for the Jets and whoever gets the opening day nod at quarterback. I think the Jets face a daunting task of finishing at .500 and I don’t think they even get there.
4. Buffalo Bills – 4-12
Key Additions: Dominic Rhodes, terrell Owens
Key Losses:Â Marshawn Lynch suspended 3 games
Key Draft Picks: Aaron Maybin, Andy Levitre
Overview: Terrell Owens has brought more off season publicity to the Bills then they have seen in the past 10 years combined, but it won’t matter. Running Back Marshawn Lynch has turned into the next Chris Henry, he can’t stay out of trouble and is suspended for the first 3 games this season. Fred Jackson and Dominic Rhodes will help ease the pain of Lynch being out but with their first 4 games @New England, vs Tampa Bay, vs New Orleans and @ Miami I think they will start the season out 1-3 and that’s too big of a whole to overcome.Â Owens is already preparing for life after football he’s got his own reality show on VH1 and even has his own limited edition cereal out. A change of scenery won’t change things for Owens and the Bills will be a huge disappointment this season.