Know Your Enemies: AFC East

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KYE is back after my three weeks of vacation. We completed the NFC East and now turn to the AFC East in a combined 4 team review. Let’s look at our AFC foes.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are the cream of the crop in the AFC East after going 11-6 in 2021. They did lose OC Brian Daboll to the Giants (HC) but should still have a potent offense led by Josh Allen (92.2 rating, 36 TDS 15 ints) and a strong running game 4.8 YPC (4.6 from Devin Singletary and 6.3 YPC from Allen).

Stefon Diggs is a stud WR (1,225 yards and 10 TDS) and Gabriel Davis came on strong in the playoffs. Dawson Knox is a solid tight end (587 yards and 9 TDs) and they added slot man Jamison Crowder from the Jets. New OC Ken Dorsey was promoted from QB coach and should lead a good offense. Bills offensive line has some question marks besides LT Dion Dawkins and Center Mitch Morse. RG Ryan Bates, RT David Quesenberry and LG Roger Saffold (injury) will need to keep this offense and run game humming.

The Bills are even stronger on defense allowing a league low 17 PPG. This defense was already good and added Von Miller in the offseason for DC Leslie Frazier. Tre’Davious White is coming off an ACL injury, so CB is a downfall until he returns though. Bills drafted Kair Elam in Round 1 at CB to help ease the White injury and Taron Johnson is a solid nickel. Dane Jackson will need to step up for White.

DE Greg Rosseau and DT Ed Oliver are good young defensive lineman and Tremain Edmunds is a beast MLB. Bills are deep at DE with 2nd rounder Boogie Basham and AJ Espenosa waiting in the wings behind Miller and Rosseau. DaQuan Jones is an underrated NT taking over for Star Lotulelei (FA). Matt Milano has been a steady Will LB. Michah Hyde and Jordan Poyer is a good safety combination as well. Bills defense is stacked again for 2022 and should be top 5 or top defense again.

Buffalo hosts Green Bay Week 8 on SNF and hosts the Vikings in Week 10. Buffalo travels to Detroit on Thanksgiving and to Chicago in Week 16. They are going to be a very tough team to play, maybe the toughest for all the North opponents.

New England Patriots

The Patriots were also a playoff team (10-7) under rookie QB Mac Jones and a very strong defense with Bill Belichick. The Patriots will be very interesting with either Matt Patricia (WTF) or Joe Judge calling offensive plays for them. Former OC Josh McDaniel’s left to be the Raiders Head Coach. The defense will be strong with DC Steve Belichick (Bill’s son) and Jarrad Mayo as co-DCs. Patriots were 2nd allowing 17.8 PPG in 2021.

Mac Jones (92.5 QB rating 22 TDs but 13 ints) was solid in year 1 and should grow in year 2. The running game is always solid and Damien Harris/Rhamondre Stevenson will be a nice 1-2 combo. Patriots offensive line also solid with Trent Brown, rookie 1st round pick Cole Strange, Center David Andrews, RG Mike Onwenwu and former 1st rounder RT Isiah Wynn.

Mac Jones doesn’t have great weapons but plenty of solid ones with Devante Parker, TE Jonnu Smith, TE Hunter Henry, slot Jakobi Myer, speedy Nelson Algohor, 2nd round pick Tyquan Thornton and Kendrick Bourne. This offense won’t wow you, but the defense will keep them in games for the offense to do enough to win.

Patriots defense just gets it done. Deatrich Wise, Lawrence Guy and Christian Barmore take on the blocks.  Matt Judon and Josh Uche provide the pass rush.  Jawhuan Bentley and Raekwon McMillan are solid MLBs but have coverage weakness.

Secondary is a weakness with Malcolm Butler hurt for the year. Jonathan Jones is a very strong slot CB, but Terrence Mitchell and Jalen Mills must step up on the outside. Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers and Kyle Duggar is a solid and deep safety combination. Patriot’s defense might take a step back with some downgrades at MLB (no Hightower) and secondary but should still be a good defense.

The Patriots go to Green Bay Week 4 and the Vikings in Week 12.  New England hosts Detroit in Week 5 and Chicago in Week 7. This team is very beatable, but Belichick always finds a way to win with just solid non-flashy players.

Miami Dolphins

Miami was 9-8 and just missed the playoffs but fired their coach, Brian Flores. Former 49ers OC Mike McDaniel steps in as the new head coach to try and fix Tua and the Dolphins run game. Miami’s defense was middle of the pack in 2021 which got Flores the boot along with some allegations against the owner for tanking.

Third year QB Tua Tagovailoa (90.1 QB rating, 16 TDs 10 ints) must take that next step in year 3. Miami helped him out greatly trading for Tyreek Hill to pair with Jaylen Waddle (2021 1st).  Mike Gesicki returns at TE on the franchise tag and Cedric Wilson is a solid slot WR.

Miami’s Oline should be strong with new LT Terron Armstead, new center Connor Williams, 2021 2nd round Liam Eichenberg at LG, 2020 2nd rounder Robert Hunt at RG and 2020 1st rounder Austin Jackson at RT. McDaniel’s should help fix the run game along with the additions of Chase Edmond, Raheem Moster and Sony Michel at RB. It is do or die time for Tua in a new offense. Teddy Bridgewater is the backup and could come in and save the day if Tua fails.

Miami’s defense was middle of the league, but they have a real strong secondary with Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Jevon Holland (safety) and Brandon Jones (safety). If they can get a pass rush and solid LB play this secondary should have a nice year. Nick Needham is the slot is the weak link.

Emmanuel Ogbah, NT Raekwon Davis, and 1st round Christian Wilkins is a good 3-4 front. Melvin Ingram is older but provides some juice at OLB and 2021 1st rounder Jaelen Phills will be to step up opposite Ingram. Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker are veteran solid LBs with Channing Tindall as good depth (3rd round rookie). Miami’s defense must take a step forward under DC Josh Boyer to help Miami get over the 9-8 hump.

This is another tough team for the NFC North to face. Miami goes to Detroit in Week 8 and to Chicago in Week 9.  Dolphins host the Vikings in Week 6 and Green Bay in Week 16. If you can rattle Tua, the North will have a good shot for some wins.

New York Jets

The Jets were 4-13 in 2021 and are still rebuilding in year 2 of Robert Saleh’s HC tenure. QB Zach Wilson enters year 2 but tore his meniscus and will miss the rest of camp and maybe early in the season. Mehki Becton got hurt so the Jets quickly added LT Duane Brown. New York is full of young WRs in 1st rounder Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, and Corey Davis. TE was revamped with CJ Uzomah from the Bengals (coming of ACL injury) and Tyler Conklin.

The offensive line is revamped too with Brown, added LG Laken Tomlinson, Center Connor McGovern. The right side is intact from last year with RG Alijah Vera Tucker (1st rounder 2021) and FA George Fant at RT. Breece Hall was drafted in Round 2 at RB joining Tevin Coleman and Michael Carter. It is a solid group for OC Mike LaFleur, but they must put it all together and get Wilson healthy.

The Jets move to a 4-3 defense with some new faces. Quinen Williams is a beast at DT and Jermaine Johnson was drafted in Round 1 this past draft to play DE. Carl Lawson got a big pay day to play DE on the other side of Johnson. John Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins and Solomon Thomas all look to rejuvenate their career at DT.

Jets brass hopes CJ Mosley stays healthy at MLB to earn his big contract. LB Quinen Williams and Marcell Harris are weak spots at OLB. The secondary has a young talent with first rounder Sauce Gardener and added Jordan Whitehead from Tampa and Lamarcus Joyner in free agency at safety. DJ Reed had a good 2021 and Michael Carter will need to step up at CB in the slot. The Jets have some talent on the back end but will need a pass rush to succeed. Can Saleh and DC Jeff Ulbrich improve the defense in year 2 as advertised.

The Jets go to the Packers in Week 6 and the Vikings in Week 13. New York hosts Chicago in Week 12 and Detroit in Week 15. The entire NFC North better beat the Jets, or they have issues.

AFC East will be a tough draw for the NFC North, but the North has the talent to notch plenty of wins too.