Multiple teams in transition out East. Buffalo and Miami are both rebuilding. The New York Jets should be better, but look for their management’s usual goofy behavior, especially when it comes to dealing with coach Rex Ryan. Having watched the pundits predict doom and gloom for the past three seasons, I am unequivocally certain that the New England Patriots will succeed yet again. Provided the Pats’ coach Bill Belichick is still a driven perfectionist and Tom Brady avoids getting hurt I still expect them to go through everybody else in contention easily on the way to the Superbowl.
New England Patriots: The Patriots have great running backs. This is what matters the most, even though they’ve brought in all new ones thanks to a major overhaul at Bellichick’s request. And QB Tom Brady is aging, he has done a fine job teaching a new crew of running backs exactly what he wants. Defensively, da Pats are the kings of the turnover. Even the fearsome Giants and Bears don’t get nearly as many takeaways. Their head coach, Bill Bellichick, may dress funny, but his game plans are complex and specific. Expect them to go 12-4.
Miami Dolphins: As Ryan Tannehill goes, so will the Dolphins. A disappointment last year, Tannehill only picked up 27 passes. Lamarr Moore has been no replacement at all for Reggie Bush. Playing in the division will be a merry dance compared to the non-division schedule against the Colts, Falcons, Ravens and Saints. Their disciplined, crunching defense will be their savior, however. The loss of RB Brandon Marshall still hurts. I am dubious as to whether his expensive successor Mike Wallace is up to it. Expect them to go 6-10.
Buffalo Bills: I am very sold on the skills and intelligence of quarterback E.J. Manning. He’s the best they’ve had since Jim Kelly days. He throws well, remains snug in the pocket and offers some fleet-footed escape skills. His two brilliant running backs, C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are – despite constantly getting injured – fantastic when they actually get to play. Jarius Byrd can, at his best, be an assassin and is capable of adapting to playing a number of positions. The speedy Kyle Williams, if he can remain unhurt, is definitely going to be a star. Bagg predicts 7-9.
New York Jets: Listen carefully and you’ll hear the sound of the Jets embattled coach, Rex Ryan as he whimpers in his sleep for his beloved, injured go-to receiver Santonio Holmes. Ownership does have a right to expect better of this team after sinking so much money into free agents, but, without their 2012 draft pick Quintin Couples, who has ankle problems, its very hard to see success on the immediate horizon. With unresolved quarterback issues still hurting them, the Jets will surely regret the decision to fire and hire three new coordinators. I expect Ryan’s ouster to happen sooner, rather than later. Just who they hire to replace him will be crucial. Should go 3-13.