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A Look Around the League: AFC East

Let's take a look around the rest of the NFL to see how the rest of the competition is stacking up outside of the AFC North. Let's get it started with the AFC East. The order I select corresponds with how I think the division standings will look after Week 17.

New England Patriots

From where I'm sitting, it seems as if the Patriots have stood pat this offseason. They made no significant upgrades along an offensive line that got smoked during the Super Bowl; Donte Stallworth was allowed to walk; so was Asante Samuel. Nevertheless, they still have the best or second best QB in the game, a cheating great coach, Richard Seymour back healthy, and younger, more athletic legs at the LB position with the draft choice of Jerod Mayo.

They also have an incredibly manageable schedule. The AFC East matches up against the not-so-daunting NFC West, and with two games against Miami, Buffalo and the Jets, at least ten wins and another playoff berth is inevitable. The Pats do have tough road games at San Diego, Indianapolis, and Seattle, plus a home contest against the Steelers, so any talk of a repeat perfect regular season is ignored by me at this point.

New York Jets

The brass of the New York Jets essentially shoved every last chip to the middle of the table this offseason. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, who at 37 years of age might be a bit underseasoned for the job, spent nearly $140 million in free agent contracts this offseason. The prize of the bunch was Alan Faneca of course, but they also brought in versatile OL Damien Woody, LB Calvin Pace, NT Kris Jenkins, and TE Bubba Franks.  What do all have in common? Ding ding ding. That's right, they're all old. Only Pace Jenkins are under the age of 30, with Pace turning 28 in October and Jenkins already 29.

Nevertheless, the additions of Woody and Faneca should help a team that gave up 56 sacks and only rushed for 1700 yards as a team. The question, of course, is who will the retooled line be protecting? Chad Pennington or Kellen Clemons. I have issues with both QBs, but to me, the Jets have to go with Pennington. Why? Because they spent all this darn money to be competitive...NOW. There's no time to wait for Clemons to potentially develop.  We'll see what happens, but don't be surprised if Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini are both canned before the start of the next decade. The bottom line is this is a poorly run football team for the better part of two decades now.  My personal take is that the front office got fooled by their fluky playoff berth in 2006, and are making a foolish 'all-in' wager to try to push themselves over the top. Problem is, that push might just take them back to respectability. Not the playoffs.

Buffalo Bills

I should probably give more credit to Buffalo than I am, but something about this team is uninspiring to me. They seem to be a fairly well-run organization lately. If I recall correctly, former long-time coach Marv Levy is in charge of personnel decisions, and he's done a nice job acquiring talent on both sides of the ball, particularly defense. The problem though, is the Bills offense. It was near the bottom of every significant statistical category last year, even though rookie RB Marshawn Lynch was outstanding.

What do you know? It starts at the QB position. Trent Edwards? JP Lohsman? Yikes. The Bills did draft Indiana WR James Hardy to play alongside Lee Evans and return-man-extraordinare Roscoe Parrish, but I'm not sure that will help too much in the short-run. By the way, anybody know what has happened to that incident involving Lynch and the hit-and-run? If he's in a world of trouble legally, the Bills will be too.

Miami Dolphins

All eyes (at least those of the national media) will be on South Florida this year, as Bill Parcells has been given a mountain of cash to fix the mess that is the Dolphins organization.  He most likely will, though it won't happen overnight.  Outside of Chad Henne, who the Big Tuna drafted in the 2nd round, Parcells did what he always does: stockpile beef in the trenches: Jake Long (OT), Phillip Merling (DE), Kendall Langford (DE), Shawn Murray (OT). That's what he does.

Talent at the skill positions is still too spotty for the Dolphins to be serious contenders this year, but if this year's draft class pans out and the team finds something in either John Beck or Chad Henne, it might not be too long before Miami is back in the mix in the AFC East.