Leading up to opening Thursday Night of the 2013 NFL Season, I will preview each division with snippets on each team in that division. They will lead up to opening night when my full predictions and first fantasy column will be released.
The AFC East has never been the most competitive division, has it? It certainly doesn't seem in 2013 that's going to change much, if at all. The Pats are still the Pats, despite the Patriot Way having holes punched in it seemingly, and the other 3 teams aren't all that different from last season. Is there any way that the Dolphins, Bills or Jets surprise and take the division away from the Patriots? (Spoiler... Nope).
The Patriots are going into 2013 almost exactly the same way they went in 2012, at least on the field. They lack a game-breaking receiver, and they have unknowns at the offensive skill positions, even though some answers have emerged. But really, do they matter at all because Tom Brady will still light everyone up? Issues with the defense cropped up a season ago, but they seem to be fixed with last years rookies a year older and more experienced. The regular season won't be the problem for the Pats, it will be getting by the tougher teams in the AFC once they have to.
Miami spent big in free agency, as one would expect from a desperate GM like Jeff Ireland. Experience dictates that means that Ireland will end up falling on his sword, but is that so? Mike Wallace should dramatically help Ryan Tannehill, but the injury to Dustin Keller and the lack of clarity at RB will hurt. Their secondary is also an interesting mix of rookies and veterans, but without a definitive gamebreaker there. Their defensive line will be their strength, but it will have to mask the problems behind them. So the big question is, are the Dolphins really all that much better than last year? Well... not really, so far as I can tell.
E.J Manuel would have been the opening day starter for Buffalo had it not been for his unfortunate knee injury, since he was playing very well in the preseason. But now Kevin Kolb is taking over, and be honest, does it really matter since Manuel is going to be starting by some point in the season anyway? Doug Marrone and Doug Whaley have made their bed and now they have to lie in it. Their offense has explosive weapons everywhere, but the front 3 and the secondary are both big questions. And, will Manuel be able to translate his early success into wins?
And then there are the Jets... it got a bit sad to be watching the flaming trainwreck that was the Jets season last year, and this year figures to be no better. Mark Sanchez will probably start opening day, but Geno Smith will be starting by the end of it. The offense has holes everywhere, and the defense has problems from the D-Line back. Their cap situation is not conducive to improving as a team despite a good draft, and it will take time for the roster churn to fully work. Until then, it's going to be another long year for Jets fans.
In summary... the Pats are still the class of the division, Miami isn't all that much better than they were a year ago, the Bills aren't ready to make the jump yet, and the Jets are waiting for their cap situation to improve before massive changes come. So in short, the division is no different than it was a year ago.