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Honest Assessment of AFC East

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  1. usmcmgb

    usmcmgb Rookie

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    We've all been hearing a lot of talk about how the Dolphins are poised to take over the AFC East. The latest I've read is Gary Horton of Scouts, Inc on ESPN.com. So how does everyone else here feel about the AFC East this year? No emotional "Pats Rule!", no hype, just your honest assessment of how it looks 6 weeks before camp opens. Personally, I think the Dolphins are still at least a year away from seriously challanging the Pats. They do have a fairly easy schedule this year with only one cold weather divisional game but if I was a Fins fan, I would have zero confidence in Culpepper or Harrington's ability to carry a team on their backs when necessary. The defense is aging and Ronnie Brown has no back up. Short of anything disasterous happening to any of the keys (Brady, Bruschi, Seymour, Vrabel, Colvin, etc.) I still like the Pats to rule the division this year. If Maroney can step up and Dillon can bounce back (possibly very big "ifs" but lets assume for now that they can) I think the offense is going to be a machine. All the pundits are wringing their hands over the loss of AV and Willie but I was never in that camp. AV had a good run with us and we'll all never forget the Snow Bowl against Oakland (THE kick of his career IMO) but it was obvious in several games last year that his leg, never REAL strong to begin with had lost a little bit, not to mention his accuracy last year. Maybe he was hurting but I just don't believe that the loss of a player, on the field for about one minute out of 60, kills your run at another SB. If it does, you don't deserve to go anyway.
    So, how does everyone else feel about the division this year?
  2. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Patriots are clearly the best team.
    Dolphins are clearly the second best team.

    I think the Dolphins are a year away before we can seriously consider them a challenger for the league title.

    I think the Jets are going to be in the running for #1 draft pick next year.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2006
  3. tatepatsfan

    tatepatsfan Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Pats 12-4
    Fins 10-6
    Jets 7-9
    Bills 5-11

    Fins are definitely improving, but I agree, I believe they are still a year away from really doing some damage. Jets will improve, they had a good draft, and I think they will be a decent team. Bills have some work to do.
  4. JR4

    JR4 In the Starting Line-up PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yes Mimai is biggest challenge to PATs winning division.
    If Culpepper comes back and does better than he did with
    the Vikes I think it could be close this year.

    The Main reason is the schedule. Miami has a cake schedule this year.
    I would expect them to win every game but the following
    PATs x 2, Indy and Pittsburg. But now with BIG BEN's future in question,
    Miami may even have a good shot at beating the Steelers.
    If PATs should falter in one of their two games with Miami then the
    AFCE race COULD be real close.
    This is all assuming
    -Miami's changes in their secondary are as good as
    they are suppose to be
    - Zack's rotator cuff injury is healed and the
    - the new OC and DC are what Saban expects
    - the aging DL has a good year left ( all over 30 now )
  5. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Miami has the exact same schedule as the Pats except they play Pittsburgh and San Diego when we play Cincinnati and Denver. Really seems to be more or less a wash.
  6. JR4

    JR4 In the Starting Line-up PatsFans.com Supporter

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    True but not the point I was trying to make. If both PATs and Miami had
    tougher schedules I would expect PATs to do better and Miami to have more
    difficulties therefore the gap in the division race would be in PATs favor.
    With both teams having fairly easy schedules the gap shouldn't be that great
    and the division race should be closer.
  7. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Gotcha. It was your point that Miami had a cake schedule that caught my attention. In reality, we both have cake schedules. Makes up for the murderous schedule from last year.
  8. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Barring injury I think the Pats certainly rebound to 12-4 range. We could have staggered to 11-5 last season had we chosen to. If certain things click with this team and this schedule they could do better. I'm not sold on this secondary but it will be better than last year and if Ty gets signed or Rodney comes back sooner rather than later I think they will be much better than last year approaching 2003-2004. I'm in the camp that says you don't replace a HOF PK with a rookie and assume you will improve. That said I believe they have focused on improving much of ST and I don't expect any kicking dropoff to impact the equation until the playoffs if the Dillon/Maroney tandem works as well as I think it will and if either one let alone both of Jackson/Caldwell pan out and Watkins emerges as he should.

    Miami is the closest thing to competition the Pats will have in the AFCE. Their defense is aging and their offense is again in transition. Losing Ricky's 740 yards and 4.4 average (same average as Brown) has to hurt even though the pundits don't seem to see it. Culpepper is coming off more than knee surgery, he's coming off looking like crap without Randy Moss in a whole new system with nobody remotely like Randy Moss. His backup came out of a bad situation, but I believe the problem there ran deeper. Both will be pressing and difficult for Saban to harness with any success, and they are as different as night and day. I don't see them doing any better than a legitimate 9-7. The wild card is Saban because he's a different guy (caustic and defensive) when he's losing and the media pressure and criticism mount. A poor start or a prolonged streak of losses like last year won't play as well this season and he could start to unravel.

    The JETS will struggle to get to 6-10. They have a backup QB desperate to prove he's a starter and a rookie OC. Cumar is running on fumes. Penalties aside they will miss Law not to mention Abraham. They could easily be locked in a death match with Buffalo, Minnesota and Houston for the right to draft Brady Quinn.

    Buffalo is shaping up to be an epic disaster where they potentially lose ground to 4-12 or worse. It's gonna get worse before it gets better. That could well turn out to be the case for the NYJ too, and it's not out of the relm of possibility for Miami either.
  9. Welker83

    Welker83 Rookie

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    Where are you guys getting the "aging Miami Defense"?

    Heres the facts:
    1. Last year miami had the oldest average age defense in the league starting the season. Opening day roster was:
    DL: Jason taylor, Vonnie Holliday, Keith Traylor, Kevin Carter
    LB: Junior Seau, Zach Thomas, Channing Crowder
    DB: Tebucky Jones, Lance schulters, Sam Madison and Reggie Howard...

    Pretty much an old group...But it's not like this anymore...Miami's D is now same as the average of the league..the only old part of the unit is the D-line..but we now have young talent behind them. Projected starting line-up for this year:
    DL: Jason Taylor 31,Vonnie Holliday 30, Keith Traylor 36, Kevin Carter 32
    LB: Sedrick Hodge 27, Zach Thomas 32, Channing Crowder 22
    DB: Will Allen 27, Travis Daniels 23, Jason Allen 22, Renaldo Hill 27

    Average age of unit last year: 30.18
    Average age of unit this year: 28.09

    That right there looks like a nice blend of youth and experience...

    So who's defense is really aging?
    Pats projected starters:
    DL Warren, Wilfork, Seymour
    LB, Vrabel, Colvin, Bruschi, Beisel
    DB. Samuel, Gay, Harrison, Wilson
    Average age as of opening day: 27.68

    Basically a difference of .41 years or 5 months... Where as the pats have a young DL the fins have a young secondary. It is widely known DL players can go into their mid 30's while secondary players and LB's start their decline in their early thirties...And even more shocking is that if Traylor is cut and anyone under the age of 27 takes over our averages are identical...

    So please get off that defense is old thing... This is not the same D you guys saw last year...
  10. Welker83

    Welker83 Rookie

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    Secondary- Sabans a DB guy so hopefully these guys gel... i really do expect some blown coverages in the beinning of the year.
    -Zach's rotator is fine..he played 4 games with it torn and still was dominant... He had the surgury early Jan so he'll be 8 months post op when the season kicks off...This injury is generally only bad for RB's and QB's...
    -Are systems will be identical to last years... Mularkey will be running Linehans playbook, and Capers will be runnign saban's D...There is very little player adjustment.
    - Yup they are old but not to old ages are 31,32,30, and 36. But Matt Roth and Manny Wright stated geting significant minuets by the end of last year...


    With culpeppers FREAKISH rehab and Ben's inuries i guarantee the bookies have already changed the odds for that game...Miami still the underdog but not by as much.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2005
  11. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Average age is a useless metric. One old Darrell Green type can skew the numbers pretty good.

    Given your ages, the median age of the Miami D look to be slightly above 27, which isn't bad. Assuming I'm correct with the Patriots' ages, the median is slightly below 27. So there's really little difference as far as projected starters go.
  12. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

    If I were rooting for Miami, I'd be worrying about quarterback, offensive line and -- maybe this is just me -- wide receiver.

    For the Pats, I'm worrying about wide receiver (we shouldn't forget that replacing a talented receiver with one equally talented may still knock an offense, given that he has less familiarity with the quarterback) and, to a lesser extent, linebacker. If Rodney comes back, I like our secondary.

    In general, I think that Miami might push us, but we still have the edge.
  13. italian pat patriot

    italian pat patriot Rookie

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    i honestly think that if it does not happens us something bad (i.e.: critical injuries at some key players) we should win quite easy the Afc East

    Miami is surely better on the paper but still i feel they will not win more then 9 games...

    NYJ and BUF: i do not think they have any possibility to compete with us...

    Pats should be contenders next year for the Super Bowl imo
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2006
  14. Welker83

    Welker83 Rookie

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    So now my Predictions:

    Jets: This will be a rough start of the year and prolly a better ending. They are switching all the systems and are doing it with a lot of player up heavel. OL rookies are very talented but will be prone to gaffs early in the season. The most shocking thing is that they will come into the season with both their QB, and RB coming of injuries.. it is entirely possible that chad will never be the same but early reports say he is ahead of last year as he had the surgery earlier and has had more time to re-hab. Another huge gap is their Defensive line and lb's situation with the switch to a 3-4...Overall i see them finishing third, but not challenging for the division...

    Bills: This will be a very rough year. They have arguably the worst DL's and OL's in the league...and if your foundation is shaky so will your team. It apears they are preparing for some shoot-outs cause they have some speedters ar WR...Price, Evans, Davis, Parrish...Perhaps the fastest bunch in the league..and they will need to be fast cause their O-line will give up sacks! The QB situation looks like a re-run of the sureal life- The mediocre vetran, the ****y Youngster, the dimwit who thinks he's good, and the Camp arm... RB- until Willis shows he has that second gear again he will NEVER be the best back inthe league...i see the bills as bad as 2-14 and as good as 5-11....

    Fins: Lots of changes this year... In now are 2 new fomrmer head coaches but without their systems. It will be interesting to see how they adapt to calling plays they did not design...it could be good, or it could be bad. Gone is ricky so this will be a marquee yer for ronnie brown. the biggest question is can he carry the load and who will back him up. The front runner is Sammy moris with his career 4.0 carry avg followed by possibly Kay Jay Harris, or travis minor. The FB will be better used with the pick-up of Fred Beasley. TE's have been revamped considerably as mularkey has switched them from the H-back mold to the True TE mold. Justin Peele will be an excellent compliment to Randy. OL was a HUGE surprise last year..they cut their sacks down by almost 50%...all of the starters return but their is much more depth this year. Center is the biggest question mark.... Lb's are fine except sor the SLB...Saban really wants a dominant pass rush guy to take some pressure off JT on the opposite side. Unluckily yhere are only some mediocre guys with Hiodge, Spragan, and Newman- No defense will plan for any of these guys. Expect the Fins to try and pick up a LB in the suplemental Draft. Secondary is a complete different unit, but there is a lot more talent and depth this year. Gone are the PS scrubs and in come the VETS Renaldo hill, deke Copper, Will allen, Jason allen (R), and returing from injury Will poole... All the players here fit sabans mold and have talent. If they can gel they should be able to improve the pass defense that was lit up by the likes of Brooks Bollinger, Holcombe and losman... Mare was back to his old form last yeat, and Donnie Jones was a pleasant surprise as one of the best punter last year (12th in gross, 3rd in net) And the biggest gain is at QB with Daunte Culpepper and Joey Harrington. As of now it appears Daunte will play vs pittsburg. At the recent mini camp daunte was Running, scrambling, throwing, jumping on loose balls and even punting with his bad leg! This Guy is a freak of nature! no one is supposed to be able to come cack this quick from a triple ligament tear. Before the camp the general thought was Daunte may come in aound week 3...Now after doing 2 a days with no setbacks it appears he will be ready for pre-season. Add in the fact that since the fins kept Linehans system and he doesn't have to learn anything new Daunte should hopefully return to his 2004 or 2004 form...

    Pats: Pats had a Bad FA outing But had an EXCELLENT draft. I see the pats bringing in a vetran qb to be the 2 or 3 guy..cassel is coming along great so QB is not a worry. WR is the most deficient area right now. Branch is holding out, Brown is aging, Reche caldwell only has had one good season, and historically Rookie WR do not produce for 2-3 years...TE situation is exclellent and depth is much improved with the new rookies. OL didn't lose much and is a young group with good depth. The developent of the talent should easily outgain the loss the FA. RB depth is much better. If dillon can get rid of his injury bug from last year it should allow the pats to be more balanced. This is especially important with the WR situation.... Defensive line is greath. the only lacking part is depth at NT. LB is a question. If beilsel can step up and allow Vrabel to move back outisde then the unit should be fine. If not then expect to see some more 4-3 looks to get better production. There are three LB's in the supplemental draft and the pats should be in the thick of it. Secondary will be an area of concern. Mainly because the unit as a whole has not been able to stay healthy for years. Kicking will be a question mark, but its not that bad. BB likes to go for it when the team is on the other side of the 50 so generally it means kickers don't have to go for anything more than 43 yards. Either of the guys should be an upgrade on the kickoff over AV. Punting is excellent.


    Overall on paper the teams are almost Neck and Neck. As of now i'm calling it a tie....Hey calm down! When you start playing chess both players have the same amount of pieces...it's what the chessmasters do that determine the outcome...I expect to see some real chess matches now that the firepower has been evened out. Goodluck all!
  15. Richter

    Richter Rookie

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    Oh man, I needed a laugh to start the day.
  16. Welker83

    Welker83 Rookie

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    Your contribution to the discussion is overwhelming...
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2006
  17. 5 Rings for Brady!!

    5 Rings for Brady!! Rookie

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    This is the Pats division to lose. We all have easy schedules. Bottom Line, are the Pats going to be a solid team again. If so, we are still a step ahead of Miami and Fumblepepper. If we flat stink like we did last year, even before all the injuries (Carolina game, 2nd half Oakland), then Miami will step in and win the division.

    For now, we are a better team then Miami but they pose problems to us every time we play them. If we aren't firing on all cylinders next year, they could take the division, but only if we let them by default.

    I believe we will have a great running game, and Brady will be playing angry. I believe Miami is over-rated big time by the media, and they are still a second tier team, not a championship team.

    Fumblepepper never willed the Vikings into the playoffs except his first year. I used to root for him, until it became apparent how scatterbrained and butterfingered he is! Sorry to rag on your Q.B., Welker83, but I've watched him play.
  18. Richter

    Richter Rookie

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    I know, wonderful, isn't it?

    Could be that I've already had this discussion enough times, and I find it funny how fish fans view their team. But I'll humor you; The talent level is not even, not even close that is (the Patriots are better at virtually every position except wide receiver, and even that's debatable), and while your defense may not be as old, no one actually knows if the young guys can play yet. Better hope Jason Taylor plays out of his mind this year, because that defensive line is old, and recent history (2002, Patriots fans?) shows how quickly an old defensive line can come back to haunt you.
  19. PlattsFan

    PlattsFan Rookie

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    2002. The sight of Anthony Pleasant getting blasted 7 yards off the ball every play still haunts me.

    As for this year, the Pats are clearly the class of the division, and it's not particularly close. There are two main places where sports writers get fooled, and they are both at work in predicting the Fins even close to the Pats. First, they always over-value a second-half run by a mediocre team, like the Dolphins went on. Yes, it's nice to see a team improve over the year, and I'm impressed by Saban. But there's always more luck and schedule vagaries involved in situations like that than people give credit for. The Dolphins were a .500 team last year, and they're a fringy playoff team this year, probably. The second factor is that sports writers always overvalue marquee free agency. Single players don't make the huge difference, unless they are truly core players (on the Pats, that's Brady, Seymour, Bruschi, Harrison, and maybe Dillon). Givens was a nice player, and the Pats are a little thin at WR, but he's vastly overvalued in his new contract. Willie McG is a good guy and a nice contributor, but he wasn't core ("locker-room influence" is also overrated on a team like the Pats). Vinatieri ... he was the kicker. He was a great kicker, but that's like a baseball team having a great middle-reliever. Nice, but not all that big a deal in the end.

    The Bills stink, and I have a bad feeling about Mr. Mangini's readiness to assume the top dog mantle (think Belichick in Cleveland, only less experienced and in the NY media market).

    Of course, anything can happen with injuries, etc, but the Pats are the clear favorites in the division and one of 2-4 teams that can win it all from the AFC.
  20. usmcmgb

    usmcmgb Rookie

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    Good honest assessment from a Fins perspective. Don't necessarily agree with some of it (a little TOO rosy as far as Miami goes but hey, your a Fins fan, no sense being down 6 weeks before camp begins!) but you make some points I agree with. Thanks for the Miami input!
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