2011 AFC East Preview & Predictions
The Pats had a fantastic off-season, trading for cast-offs Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco while signing Shaun Ellis and Andre Carter to bolster their defensive line. A fast improving defense coupled with a seemingly unstoppable offense led by “The Golden Boy” makes for what I think will be another dominating season for Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
Key Arrivals – Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, Shaun Ellis, Andre Carter, Chris Morris, Jonathan Compas
Key Departures – Brandon McGowan, Tully Banta-Cain, Alge Crumpler, Marcus Stroud, Ty Warren, Shayne Graham, Jarrad Page, Stephen Neal
Prediction – 13-3/First in AFC East
The Jets lost out on the prize of free agency in Nnamdi Asomugha but made up for it by re-signing some of their own free agents. However, I don’t think Gang Green has a better roster than last year’s. They lost young, proven receivers Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery and replaced them aging former stars with little knowledge of the playbook. The Jets also lost some veterans on the defensive line as long-time Jet Shaun Ellis signed with the hated Patriots and Kris Jenkins to retirement. I think the Jets’ biggest mistake was losing punter Steve Weatherford as he proved to be one of the league’s best at pinning the opposition deep in their own zone. Overall, I think the Jets will still be one of the top teams in the AFC because of their strong defense, but if they want to return to the AFC Championship game then third-year quarterback Mark Sanchez and talented running back Shonn Greene have to take some huge strides this season.
Key Arrivals – Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, Donald Strickland, Chris Bryan
Key Departures – Braylon Edwards, Steve Weatherford, Shaun Ellis, Damien Woody, Jerricho Cotchery, Drew Coleman, Kellen Clemens, James Ihedigbo, Brad Smith, Kris Jenkins, Jason Taylor, Vernon Gholston, Tony Richardson
Prediction – 11-5/Second in AFC East
The quarterback situation in Miami continues to be a huge issue as Chad Henne and Matt Moore battle it out for the starting job. The Fins are also hoping that Reggie Bush can fill the voids left by Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown in the backfield. In the end, I believe their defense will be good enough to keep the Dolphins in a lot of games. It’s just going to come down to the offense putting up some points and being able to finish close games.
Key Arrivals – Reggie Bush, Matt Moore, Jason Taylor, Marc Colombo, Kevin Burnett, Jason Trusnik
Key Departures – Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Channing Crowder, Tim Dobbins, Jonathan Amaya, Pat McQuistan, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen
Prediction – 8-8/Third in AFC East
The Bills are kind of stuck in limbo as they neither improved nor downgraded this off-season. They added some young, versatile receivers such as Brad Smith and Buster Davis, but also traded veteran wide-out Lee Evans to the Ravens. The Bills are counting on playmakers like CJ Spiller, Fred Jackson, and Steve Johnson to propel them to victories this season while at the same time hoping quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can build on his productive 2010 season.
Key Arrivals – Nick Barnett, Buster Davis, Lionel Dotson, Tyler Thigpen, Brad Smith
Key Departures – Donte Whitner, Paul Posluszny, Ashton Youboty, Keith Ellison, Akin Ayodele, Lee Evans
Prediction – 5-11/Last in AFC East