In some ways, the online sports book experts find it easy to predict the AFC East standings each year. As long as quarterback Tom Brady is playing for head coach Bill Belichick in New England, that will be your division favorite. But the online casino wagering community is starting to think that there may be more than one wild card to come from the AFC East if there is a 2011 season. The sportsbook promo experts assume that the New York Jets will take a wild card spot just behind the Patriots in the division. But could the NFL picks for the playoffs also include the Buffalo Bills or Miami Dolphins?
New England Patriots
The Patriots looked invincible last season until the New York Jets limited the Patriots’ running game in the playoffs and knocked the Pats out. The Patriots needed to make two major changes in the off-season to maintain their supremacy in the AFC East. They needed to get some help in the defensive secondary, and they needed more size in the running game. Danny Woodhead is a great story, but teams had him figured out by the playoffs so the Pats need a change-of-pace back to go with Woodhead. In the second round, the Patriots picked up defensive back Ras-I Dowling and running back Shane Vereen. Considering the Patriots’ past success at player scouting, it is safe to assume that the Patriots solved their problems.
AFC East finish: First
New York Jets
The Jets get the second spot in the AFC East by default. The Bills and Dolphins are not really going to challenge for a playoff spot in 2011, and the Jets are just good enough to top both of those teams in the standings. The Jets’ defense will be world class in 2011. They lacked depth last season, but they took care of some of that lack of defensive depth in the draft. Where the Jets are in real trouble is on offense. Wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards will not be together in 2011. One of the two is leaving, and that will have a significant effect on the passing game. The offensive line is a solid unit, but the running game needs some updating. Does LaDainian Tomlinson have one more great season in him? Probably not. Tomlinson was completely ineffective in the AFC Championship game, as was the rest of the Jets running game. That means that the Jets will have to rely on quarterback Mark Sanchez for wins, and Sanchez has yet to show that he can be a consistent winner in the NFL.
AFC East finish: Second
Drafting defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was a nice start for Buffalo, as was the majority of the picks the team made in the draft. But the Bills need help in nearly every part of their game except for the running game. Their offensive line is awful, their defensive line cannot tackle and the secondary is small. But even with all of that, 2011 will still be a better season for the Bills than 2010.
AFC East finish: Third
Quarterback Chad Pennington has announced he is taking a year off from playing to do some television work. Running back Ronnie Brown is trying to find his way out of Miami. The Dolphins are insisting that the wildcat is still the way to win in the NFL, even though the track record of the novelty formation would argue otherwise. The Dolphins are lost and drifting away.
AFC East finish: Fourth