Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 NFL Preview: AFC East

Here we go! With a little over a week until kickoff 2012, we're going to start our annual NFL previews today. As always, we'll start in the AFC East, and finish up with the NFC West, reviewing key players for each team and discussing where we believe each team will finish.


1st Place, New England Patriots: 12-4

Key Offensive Players- QB Tom Brady, TE Ron Gronkowski, TE Aaron Hernandez, RB Stevan Ridley, WR Wes Welker, WR Brandon Lloyd

Defense- LB Dont'e Hightower, DE Chandler Jones (R), CB Kyle Arrington, LB Jered Mayo

The Patriots get the luxury of playing in one of footballs worst divisions in 2012, and they'll need all the advantages they can get because they are a flawed team. Of course, as long as Tom Brady stays upright, the Pats will have one of the most explosive attacks in the game, but they're extremely one-dimensional and will need someone to take over in the backfield this year for Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Their defense should be a little better than last years bunch, but they do still have major questions in the secondary, at safety especially. Still, they return much of the same roster that took them to the Super Bowl in February, so they're still a force to be reckoned with.

2nd Place, New York Jets: 8-8

Offense: QB Mark Sanchez, QB Tim Tebow, RB Shonn Green, WR Santonio Holmes, T D'Brickashaw Ferguson

Defense: LB Calvin Pace, LB David Harris, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Antonio Cromartie, S LaRon Landry, S Yeremiah Bell

The Jets still have their very potent defense which is especially adept at stopping the pass. Their problem lies on offense, and it has really ever since they got Mark Sanchez. This year, they have another option in Tim Tebow, who may actually be a better fit with this particular offense, but it will again be Sanchez's job going in. Their running game has to improve big time on last year, and they need Sanchez to play with confidence, otherwise they could try to use the 2011 Bronco recipe of Tebow, a lot of running and defense. I think they'll be right around .500, but nowhere near ready to compete with the Pats.

3rd Place, Buffalo Bills: 7-9

Offense: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, WR Stevie Johnson, T Cordy Glenn (R)

Defense: DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareous, LB Nick Barnett, CB Stephon Gillmore (R), S George Wilson

The Bills have an improving defensive front, and added a premiere cover man in Stephon Gillmore with their top pick in the draft. They also added Mario Williams to their D-Line, to play next to the "Crimson Elephant", Marcell Dareous. That part of the team is certainly on the rise, but their offense will need to get some breakout seasons, especially in the QB and WR department, and they absolutely need Fred Jackson to stay healthy the whole season. The only credible wideout they have is Stevie Johnson, and he gains most of the attention from opposing DB's, so they need another option or two to emerge to balance out the attack.  

4th Place, Miami Dolphins: 2-14

Offense: QB Ryan Tannehill (R), RB Reggie Bush, WR Davone Bess, T Jonathan Martin, C Mike Pouncey

Defense: DE Cameron Wake, LB Kevin Burnett, LB Karlos Dansby, CB Richard Marshall

This years Dolphins really resemble an expansion team, and their record should reflect that. They have a rookie QB throwing to a well below average receiving corps. They do have some nice backs in Bush and Daniel Thomas, but unfortunately those guys won't do much good when the team is battling back in so many games. They do have one of the best young pass-rushers in the game in Cameron Wake but outside of him, there aren't many standouts on that defense either.

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