After weaving through a crowded NFC, we point our crystal balls at the AFC where little has changed. In the AFC East the New York Jets look to push the Patriots, but New England still has its foot on the gas. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part one of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
We spent several weeks dissecting the impressive NFC. Its time we turned our balls to the other conference, a wash of teams ranging from great to abysmal. The AFC has it all, which isn’t really a good thing heading into 2014. The top appears relatively unchanged, with the bottom still over crowded. There’s lots of meat on these bones however, so I’ll stop prognosticating and get down to it.
Let’s follow the same geographical path previously taken and start with the AFC East. This division is home to my favorite team, my wife’s favorite team, and my arch nemesis team. That’s three of four teams, in case you were wondering.
I’ve laid my cards on the table and will make a solid attempt to be impartial. Here’s how things shook out in the AFC East in 2013:
New England Patriots 12-4 (division title)(playoffs)
New York Jets 8-8
Miami Dolphins 8-8
Buffalo Bills 6-10
The order of finish from last season seems pretty darned accurate if you ask me in 2014 as well. The Bills won’t be a bad team, but they are still in transition. I see a small improvement, with Buffalo finishing around .500 by season’s end.
Miami is also a good but not great football team. Because they’ll be playing twice against each of their AFC East rivals, I see a similar finish to last season for the Dolphins. Most likely ahead of Buffalo, but on the outside of the playoff conversation.
The New York Jets will be a bright spot in 2014 for this division. Double digit wins are not out of the question, but the Jets will certainly improve on their 8-8 record from last season. Their offensive and defensive lines were excellent and I see little reason for that to change. Add new offensive weapons to a blossoming unit and New York should compete with every team they face in 2014.
That leaves the New England Patriots, still the strongest team in the AFC East. They seem to ALWAYS make the post season, and with Tom Brady at the helm I see more playoff games in their 2014 future. I don’t know if twelve wins come their way once again, but they certainly finish with double digits.
New England wins the East, but they won’t run away with it like last season.
It does seem like the AFC is going to be a conference of haves and have nots. Where I saw lots of good teams jumbled up in the NFC, the same is not the case in the American. Case in point, the AFC East.
I hate to break this to you, but the New York Jets are not competing with the New England Patriots for the division crown this season. Their problem is two-fold: the offense and the defense.
On offense, Eric Decker is not turning this group into the 1998 Minnesota Vikings. He’s a fine player and a substantial upgrade for New York at the position, but he’s not a game-changing player. Don’t expect his 2013 numbers with Peyton Manning as his quarterback to transfer right over when his QB is Geno Smith or Mike Vick.
In the backfield, Chris Johnson is far from washed up, but he’s even further from CJ2K. For the past few years, I’ve been calling him CJ-1200. This hasn’t caught on because no one talked about him since he was average and played in Tennessee. Now that he’s in the Big Apple, maybe CJ-1200 has a future! Of course, I’d also be incredibly surprised if Johnson even reached the 1200 yard plateau. He isn’t the same player he once was, and it doesn’t help that this Jets offensive line has some holes that didn’t used to be there, namely having a Breno Giacomini, whatever that is, starting at right tackle.
On defense, the team didn’t bring in a couple of big names to create buzz. This roster had been so good on defense in recent years, we all assumed they didn’t need to either. However, other than Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, what does NY really have here? Quinton Coples has potential; David Harris is a solid linebacker playing in a league that consistently downgrades the usefulness of the position; and look at that backfield! Wooo. Dee Milliner was recently asked in an interview who he thought the best corner in the league was. He said himself, which is fine, except that it’s obviously false. He’s wasn’t even the best rookie corner playing in the AFC East last season. I didn’t look anything up to know that. I just know how bad he was.
Elsewhere, you have Buffalo finishing around .500 and the Miami Dolphins being a good but not great football team. I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. I think the New England Patriots can be considerably worse than they were a year ago and STILL run away with this thing.