CineSport—Are the Patriots the team to beat in the AFC East, or can Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez and the Jets reign supreme? CineSport's Tara Petrolino & Sporting News' Clifton Brown discuss the NFL's AFC East.
Coming off of an impressive regular season and AFC East division title, the New England Patriots (13-3) made it all the way to Super Bowl XLVI before losing to the New York Giants. Contract talks have highlighted the team’s offseason thus far.
After being slapped with a franchise tag earlier in the offseason, wide receiver Wes Welker is looking for a long-term extension. With the possibility of Welker leaving after this season, the Patriots could be looking at Deion Branch as their number one receiver, with a significant drop off in talent after that. If Welker does indeed leave, the team will have a major hole to fill at the position and could possibly use their first round pick in 2013 to address the need.
The New York Jets (8-8) were in the thick of the Wild Card race for the majority of the season, but fell short, a game back from the Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans.
With the highly publicized acquisition of little known quarterback Tim Tebow, the team is looking to add a dynamic to their game that has been missing since Brad Smith left the team after the 2010 season. Bigger issues loom, however, with the possibility of Darrelle Revis holding out for the second time in his six year career.
After starting off the season 0-7, the Miami Dolphins (6-10) finished strong, winning six of their last nine games. The team had a busy offseason, without much to show for it.
They courted Jeff Fisher to be their new head coach…he picked the Rams. They courted Peyton Manning to be their new quarterback…he picked the Broncos. The Dolphins ended up with former Packers’ Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin as their head coach and the tandem of David Garrard and rookie Ryan Tannehill at quarterback.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was traded to Chicago to make the Dolphins look more attractive to Manning, was replaced by Chad Ochocinco, who is looking to rekindle his glory days from Cincinnati.
Rounding out the AFC East are the Buffalo Bills (6-10). After a promising 5-2 start that had fans excited, the team dropped eight of their last nine, plummeting to a familiar spot at the bottom of the division.
After an exceptional start to the season (12 TD, 6 INT and a 95.4 passer rating), QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was awarded a handsome $59 million contract extension after six games. His play afterward suggested the contract was a mistake when he posted 12 TD, 17 INT and a 70.3 passer rating in the 10 games after signing the deal.
The Bills made a big move to bolster their defensive front with their $100 million deal with defensive end Mario Williams.
Look for the Patriots to repeat as AFC East champs in the 2012 season, as the other three teams still have some work to do to catch up to this familiar foe.