Mike Ivcic’s AFC East Division Preview & Predictions

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Mike Ivcic’s AFC East Division Preview & Predictions ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>


Welcome to the Ultimate Capper’s NFL Season Preview. Below is the schedule for the division-by-division breakdown for the upcoming season. Also, we’re enhancing our NFL coverage this year with Mike Ivcic’s regular column every Wednesday and a full game-by-game breakdown every Saturday, in addition to our regular features and free picks. The best place for information on the 2013 NFL season is right here at the Ultimate Capper!


AFC West – Tue, 8/13 NFC North – Wed, 8/14 NFC East – Thu, 8/15
AFC South – Fri, 8/16 NFC South – Tue, 8/20 AFC North – Wed, 8/21
NFC West – Thu, 8/22 AFC East – Fri, 8/23 Playoffs – Wed, 8/28

Buffalo Bills
Record Last Season: 6-10
Over/Under Win Total: 6.5
Odds to win AFC East: 16/1
Odds to win AFC Title: 66/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 150/1
Outlook: They drew a ton of criticism on draft day, but perhaps the Bills actually were on to something when they selected E.J. Manuel in the first round back in April. While he may not ultimately be the opening day starter, it appears almost guaranteed that the rookie from Florida State will wrestle away the starting job from Kevin Kolb and take control of the Buffalo offense sometime this season. That will probably mean some growing pains – and a big workload for running back C.J. Spiller – but it’s actually possible that the Bills have finally found their QB of the future. In the meantime, they’ll have to rely on some big plays out of Spiller and WR Steve Johnson on offense and hope that their revamped defense actually lives up to the hype they generated a year ago. Buffalo has brought in Mario Williams and Alan Branch last season in an effort to fortify their defensive line, which failed miserably as Buffalo finished 31st against the run. Despite lacking a big-time playmaker that can help shut down the elite offenses this team will face, the Bills defense was surprisingly good against the pass last year, but they’ll need to repeat that performance if they plan on contending for the playoffs before next season.
Prediction: 5-11, 3rd place

Miami Dolphins
Record Last Season: 7-9
Over/Under Win Total: 8
Odds to win AFC East: 13/4
Odds to win AFC Title: 18/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40/1
Outlook: Losing TE Dustin Keller for the season is a big blow to the Dolphins offensive plan for second-year QB Ryan Tannehil. A lot of pundits actually think this could be a playoff team – and while there are certainly plenty of winnable games on the schedule, I don’t fall into that category. Mike Wallace is definitely an upgrade over any receiving threat Miami had last season, but without Keller there really isn’t another running back or receiver that really stands out as a “must-stop” for opposing defenses. The other side of the ball is filled with a bunch of solid to very good players but no real standouts – which, to be fair, is often times a better way to go than having 3 or 4 studs and the same number of gaping holes. Still, this season will be all about the development of Tannehill and whether or not he emerges as a legitimate playoff QB in much the same way that Andy Dalton did for Cincinnati. That, for me, is why Miami simply isn’t a playoff team this year, and I’m not sure ever will be with Tannehill. I’m just not sold that he’s quite at the level necessary to play well enough to win 9 or 10 games, and as has been said many times, this is unquestionably a quarterback-driven league.
Prediction: 7-9, 2nd place


New England Patriots
Record Last Season: 12-4
Over/Under Win Total: 11
Odds to win AFC East: 1/4
Odds to win AFC Title: 4/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 9/1
Outlook: This may be the worst team ever assembled in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, and yet they will still win the AFC East, almost by default. Underestimating Brady at this point in his career is probably foolish – he’s won with guys like Troy Brown, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, and the like, so throwing to Edelman and Danny Amendola as his top two receivers won’t really bother him provided the offensive line keeps him upright. Plus, between Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, and Leon Washington, it’s possible that Brady actually has the best backfield group in his entire career. Slants and screens have always been the Pats bread-and-butter, excluding the Randy Moss years, so this offense should be quite comfortable without Wes Welker and their dynamic tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Where New England will likely get exposed is on defense, where all the scheming in the world won’t be able to cover the gaping holes that have developed over year and were never addressed by Belichick and the front office. The Pats are still strong up the middle with NT Vince Wilfork and LB’s Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo, but they have never found anyone to replace Rodney Harrison and serve as a definitive captain of the secondary, so while Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington are solid players, there’s simply not enough of a presence in the defensive backfield to stop some of the really good teams the Pats will face. An AFC East title is almost a given, but it will likely be a shorter playoff run for New England than it’s been in years past.
Prediction: 11-5, 1st place

New York Jets
Record Last Season: 6-10
Over/Under Win Total: 6.5
Odds to win AFC East: 16/1
Odds to win AFC Title: 40/1
Odds to win Super Bowl: 100/1
Outlook: There’s a saying, “save the best for last.” We didn’t do that with our NFL preview – unless you’re looking for a team that will generate the best backpage headlines this season, in which case you’ve found the winner. Never before has a head coach/QB tandem fallen so far so quickly as Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez, as those back-to-back AFC championship game appearances are now a distant memory. Even worse, most of the cornerstones of those teams are gone as well – Keller, Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, Bart Scott, Shonne Greene, Jerricho Cotchery, and Jim Leonhard were all huge contributors to the Jets success in 2009 and 2010 that have since departed. Sure, New York still has two stud offensive linemen in Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, an All-Pro middle linebacker in David Harris, and a solid if not spectacular corner in Antonio Cromartie, but who are we kidding – the Broadway spotlight is shining directly on the two men that have hitched their wagons to each other and this upcoming season. Barring a miraculous season from Sanchez – one that will come without the help of any real weapons at the offensive skill positions around him – the quarterback position will be Geno Smith’s at some point this year, and Ryan should be the odds-on favorite as the first coach to be fired if the Jets play as many, including myself, predict. This is a bad team that will only get worse this year before there’s any real hope of getting back to their 09-10 level.
Prediction: 4-12, 4th place


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