2023 AFC East preview

September 5, 2023

Getty Images/Mike Stobe

Jets 12-5

The Aaron Rodgers Effect will make Gang Green one of the annual “worst to first” teams in the NFL.

No, I’m not entirely buying the Hard Knocks hype (and the schedule may prohibit anyone in this division from putting together a big season) but a roster that swept the rookies of the year awards (Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson) now has a bona fide franchise quarterback and the benefit of playing 10 games on their home field (thanks to a “road” game against the Giants at MetLife Stadium).

There may be some early turbulence (and the shaky offensive line could make this prediction very wrong) but with Rodgers reunited with OC Nathaniel Hackett coaching under Robert Saleh, this will be the end of the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

Dolphins 10-7

If the Jets nose-dive, Miami has what it takes to grab control of the AFC East.

But, as always, the big caveat is Tua Tagovailoa. Injuries have always been a theme with him, so we’ll see if jiu jitsu and judo do anything to change that. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for the third-most receiving yards by a pair of teammates and could be looking for more if Tua stays upright.

Vic Fangio takes over the defense, which should make that unit better than the sum of its parts (and, thanks to the acquisition of Jalen Ramsey, has some nice parts).

But it’s all on Tua. If he’s healthy, this could be a 12-win team. If it’s backup QB Mike White for an extended period, it’ll be a fight just to make the playoffs.

Bills 9-8

This is gonna shock some folks … but I think Buffalo is in for a regression.

Super Bowl windows don’t stay open for very long in today’s NFL. For three years this has been a championship-level team that didn’t win a championship. We’ve already seen key players like Tremaine Edmunds and Connor McGovern leave in free agency. Stefon Diggs remains but he had a weird holdout that wasn’t a holdout.

The rest of the AFC East (not you, New England) has caught up.

And as much love as Josh Allen gets, he’s got some turnover issues that could derail some close games.

It’s not a full flameout but don’t be surprised if this “Super Bowl or bust” team does the latter.

Patriots 8-9

Robert Kraft is on the record: He wants his New England Patriots to be the first NFL franchise to seven Super Bowl victories.

But the Pats face the longest odds of the Bill Belichick era that yielded the first six.

And with good reason. The Pats have the hardest schedule in the NFL and play in arguably the second-best division.

Bill O’Brien is back as OC, and that could get Mac Jones back to being a steady QB — but that’s not enough to contend with the rest of the division beyond stealing a game or two.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Playoffs | Awards

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 WTOP.com.

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