AFC East projections in June? Okay, it may be way-too-early to begin thinking about the NFL season, but who else can’t wait until fall? In this way-too-early series, I will give my take on each of the NFL divisions and how I believe they will shape up. The previous installment covered the competitive AFC North. Now, the focus will be on the AFC East.
Way-Too-Early AFC East Projections
Buffalo Bills (1-15)(1-5)
Win: Miami Dolphins (week 7)
Losses: at New York Jets (week 1), at New York Giants (week 2), Cincinnati Bengals (week 3), New England Patriots (week 4), at Tennessee Titans (week 5), Philadelphia Eagles (week 8), Washington Redskins (week 9), at Cleveland Browns (week 10), at Miami Dolphins (week 11), Denver Broncos (week 12), at Dallas Cowboys (week 13), Baltimore Ravens (week 14), at Pittsburgh Steelers (week 15), at New England Patriots (week 16), New York Jets (week 17)
The 2019 edition of the Buffalo Bills will find themselves on the losing side of the scoreboard for the majority of the season. You would be hard-pressed to find AFC East projections with Buffalo winning the division. While I have the Bills winning only one game, I do think that they have the potential to be better. The running back corps is solid and the defense should be good. The issue is that they still play in the same division as the Patriots. For whatever reason, all three teams in the division have been severely lacking while the Patriots rule.
Despite being projected to lose 15 games, the Bills will play in competitive games. Both games against the Jets, both games against the Dolphins, at the Giants, and at home versus the Broncos are all winnable. This season will seriously test Josh Allen and whether or not he has the clutch gene.
Miami Dolphins (3-13)(2-4)
Wins: Los Angeles Chargers (week 4), New York Jets (week 9), Buffalo Bills (week 11)
Losses: Baltimore Ravens (week 1), New England Patriots (week 2), at Dallas Cowboys (week 3), Washington Redskins (week 6), at Buffalo Bills (week 7), at Pittsburgh Steelers (week 8), at Indianapolis Colts (week 10), at Cleveland Browns (week 12), Philadelphia Eagles (week 13), at New York Jets (week 14), at New York Giants (week 15), Cincinnati Bengals (week 16), at New England Patriots (week 17)
I will be the first to say that I hope that Josh Rosen proves me wrong and leads the Miami Dolphins to the playoffs. As for now, I still see Miami at the bottom of the NFL. Like Buffalo, Miami has plenty of talent. Rosen will certainly be the X-factor for the Dolphins, but they do need another to step up. Watch for Kenyan Drake to really hit his stride as a starting running back. Tight end Mike Gesicki could very well be the Dolphins break out player of the year. Put that together with explosive wide receivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker, the Dolphins have the potential to go somewhere.
The surprise projection here is the Dolphins taking down the Los Angeles Chargers in week 4. The Chargers are going to be a great team, but every year a great team slips up against lesser opponents. Miami has a difficult schedule. Even if they beat teams on the bottom half of the NFL, it would be extremely difficult for them to make the playoffs. Also, a week 5 bye is brutal and unfortunate.
New York Jets (7-9)(3-3)
Wins: Buffalo Bills (week 1), Dallas Cowboys (week 6), New York Giants (week 10), at Washington Redskins (week 11), Oakland Raiders (week 12), Miami Dolphins (week 14), at Buffalo Bills (17)
Losses: Cleveland Browns (week 2), at New England Patriots (week 3), at Philadelphia Eagles (week 5), New England Patriots (week 7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (week 8), at Miami Dolphins (week 9), at Cincinnati Bengals (week 13), at Baltimore Ravens (week 15), Pittsburgh Steelers (week 16)
The Jets were the beneficiaries of an explosive free agency. Just by signing Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley, the Jets thrust themselves into the Wild Card discussion. In terms of pure talent, the Jets are the best in the division. Sam Darnold is a formidable quarterback. His wide receiver duo of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa will allow him to take the pressure off of the run game; not to mention the fact that Bell is dangerous out of the backfield as well. With Mosley and Jamal Adams, the Jets’ defense will certainly challenge opposing offenses.
Just like their divisional foe the Bills, the Jets have an awfully early bye week. This year, their week off is week 4! No matter the amount of talent fielded by this team, it will be extremely difficult to make a deep run with no rest. If the Jets can win any of the toss-up games against the Jaguars, Bengals, and Dolphins, they will challenge for the wild card. If not, it could be a terribly long season.
New England Patriots (12-4)(6-0)
Wins: Pittsburgh Steelers (week 1), at Miami Dolphins (week 2), New York Jets (week 3), at Buffalo Bills (week 4), at Washington Redskins (week 5), New York Giants (week 6), at New York Jets (week 7), at Philadelphia Eagles (week 11), Dallas Cowboys (week 12), at Cincinnati Bengals (week 15), Buffalo Bills (week 16), Miami Dolphins (week 17)
Losses: Cleveland Browns (week 8), at Baltimore Ravens (week 9), at Houston Texans (week 13), Kansas City Chiefs (week 14)
If I were a betting man, I would still put money on the New England Patriots to win the division and at least reach the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are a lethal duo and this year will be no different. The Patriots offense may have lost Rob Gronkowski, but they gained an explosive wide receiver through the draft: N’Keal Harry. Their running game will continue to be good with Sony Michel, who recently underwent minor knee surgery. He should be fully healthy and ready to take the pressure off of Brady once the season begins.
The Patriots’ schedule is not too difficult. Starting the season against the Steelers is not ideal for any franchise, but the Patriots have their number. Their losses will come against the Browns, Texans, Chiefs, and Ravens. Each of these teams will be good and well within the playoff race. Be ready for a rematch when the Patriots inevitably make playoffs and have a first round bye.
More Of The Same
Since New England hired Bill Belichick to be their head coach, they have won the AFC East 16 times in 19 years. They have won the division each of the last ten seasons. In addition to those ten consecutive divisional titles, they have earned a first round bye in nine post-seasons in a row. So, until Belichick and/or Brady retire, the Patriots will continue to rule over all of the AFC East Projections with an iron fist.
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