AFC Midseason Recap and Predictions (1 of 4)
By Dan Lagnado
Week 8 of the NFL season has come and gone. And so, as we have reached the halfway mark, it is naturally time to decide who wins what, all the way to the Super Bowl (though I wouldn’t recommend playing Vegas with what I have to say). This will be the first article in a series recapping and predicting about all divisions in the AFC.
Let’s begin with the AFC East:
Division winner: New England Patriots
Kind of an easy call here. Despite the “lack of chemistry” that Tom Brady has with his receivers, the Pats should easily take the division once again. They currently sit atop the division with a 6-2 record. The return of Rob Gronkowski will only help Brady, and as the game against New Orleans shows, that chemistry is getting much better. Bill Belichick also has managed to keep his defense competitive despite injuries to Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and others.
The Miami Dolphins showed real promise in the first three weeks but have lost four straight since then to drop to 3-4. They may have made moves in the offseason such as adding Mike Wallace, as well as seen improvement in Ryan Tannehill off of a very solid rookie season, but they aren’t yet ready to take the next step in competing for a division title.
The Jets have literally been up and down the entire season, though they have fared better than many predicted at 4-4 (some people had only predicted four wins all season). They have dealt with many growing pains from rookie quarterback Geno Smith, but have also seen flashes of why many think he could have been drafted in the first round. The return of Santonio Holmes from injury will only help Smith, and Rex Ryan’s defense is once again one of the best in the league, led by third year defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. This team will surprise people and contend for a Wild Card spot.
As for the Buffalo Bills, there was some hope that brighter times were coming at the beginning of this season. A new quarterback in EJ Manuel, a new coach and some returning skill in Stevie Johnson and Mario Williams. That hope, however, was short lived. Injuries to Manuel and back-up Kevin Kolb left the Bills with Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis. Hardly the talent that’s needed to dethrone the Brady-Belichick Dynasty or even to turn this season around. They currently languish in the cellar of the division with a record of 3-5. That said, the future is bright for Buffalo’s offense, with the talent of Manuel, CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson.
Expect New England to continue their recent dominance over the AFC East, though perhaps not for long. In the next few years this division should become hotly contested. But for now the Pats will gear up for another potentially deep playoff run. Both the Jets and the Dolphins both remain in the hunt for a Wild Card Spot, and even Buffalo’s chances do remain alive.