AFC East 2017 Preview

For the overall 2017 NFL Preview click here, and see the links at the bottom of the page for the rest of the divisional previews.

Patriots 15-1

The Patriots are on top of the world. They’re still trolling Atlanta over the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Hell, they even have their own planes now.

The question isn’t whether New England wins a ninth straight division title — it’s whether they can run the table 10 years after becoming the first team to finish a regular season 16-0.

Tom Brady has some fun toys: Brandin Cooks was acquired via trade and Rob Gronkowski is back after missing most of 2016 due to injury. Top target Julian Edelman is out for the season but with Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, and James White all at Brady’s disposal, the offense will be just fine.

If that’s not enough help, the top scoring defense of 2016 added David Harris and Stephon Gillmore — so good luck finding weaknesses against that unit. Even if age finally catches up to Brady, he’s got more than enough around him to deliver his pal on Pennsylvania Ave more jewelry and make New England the first team to win three Super Bowls in four years in consecutive decades.

Dolphins 7-9

Jay Cutler ends his brief retirement to be a stand-in for Ryan Tannehill, who is out for the season with a knee injury. While Cutler played some of his best football for coach Adam Gase when the two were in Chicago, this is still Jay Cutler we’re talking about here. He’s a streaky passer more likely to kill you with a pick than save you with a touchdown. But with weapons like Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, and Jay Ajayi, the Dolphins offense shouldn’t be any less productive than it would have been with Tannehill.

Miami spent five of their seven draft picks on defense and Lawrence Timmons — one of this offseason’s most underrated free agent signings — should be an immediate upgrade in the middle of an already solid Dolphins’ D that gets Reshad Jones back from injury. Unfortunately for Miami, the schedule is tougher and they largely stayed the same — which means a drop in the standings.

Bills 6-10

Buffalo swears they aren’t throwing in the towel on the 2017 campaign after abruptly trading away Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby, and Reggie Ragland.

But their stockpiling of 2018 draft picks says otherwise.

Rookie coach Sean McDermott may be overseeing quite a bit of roster turnover but adds experience to his coaching staff with former head coach Leslie Frazier running the defense and Juan Castillo as the offensive line coach. I expect growing pains on defense, where they’re shifting from Rex Ryan’s aggressive 3-4 attack to McDermott’s 4-3 scheme. Not everyone will be as ready for that transition as Lorenzo “One Man Gang” Alexander is.

Offense is where things get tricky for the Bills. LeSean McCoy will have to carry the load with Watkins out west, Anquan Boldin abruptly retiring, and starting QB (for now) Tyrod Taylor starting the season in concussion protocol. Whoever is under center will find his best targets are new acquisition Jordan Matthews and rookie Zay Jones. That’s a far cry from the K-Gun days.

A difficult December slate will keep Buffalo below .500 and out of the playoffs for the 18th straight season. Cue the Counting Crows.

Jets 1-15

It’s a good thing Jamal Adams is so comfortable dying on a football field because the Jets season is dead on arrival.

New York began the offseason by slashing nearly $68 million in payroll, sending big names like David Harris, Eric Decker, Darrelle Revis, and Nick Mangold packing without proven replacements in place. The offense looks like a wreck: The entire offensive line is in flux, Quincy Enunwa is out for the season with a neck injury, and 38 year-old journeyman Josh McCown will start at QB over younger (and pretty bad) options. New tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will miss the season’s first two games due to suspension, but on the plus side, he’s turned his life around off the field he could be free agent steal.

The one place the Jets don’t suck is along the defensive line; Kony Ealy was picked up off waivers in preseason to provide depth to an already talented unit. But that’s about the extent of the good news for the Jets. Armagedon has arrived, and the Jets are on the clock for the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Playoffs | Awards

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Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on

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