AFC East 2019 Preview

Photo credit: Boston Herald

Welcome to Brews on the Balcony’s NFL season preview! This will be the first of eight installments previewing each division ahead of the 2019 NFL season. Be sure to follow the BOTB Football Show all season long for picks, spreads, and storylines and maybe even win yourself an NFL jersey of your choosing. Now let’s get to the preview.

We’ll start on the east coast with the AFC East, a division that’s been absolutely dominated by the New England Patriots since the turn of the century. Since 2000, the Patriots own 16 division titles out of a possible 19, including a current stretch of 10 straight dating back to 2008. The last time a team other than the Patriots won the AFC East I was in eighth grade, Barrack Obama had just taken office, and Low by Flo Rida was the top song. The bottom line is we are witnessing one of the most dominant dynasties in sports history, and that doesn’t appear to be changing even as Tom Brady continues to age.

New England Patriots (Over/Under: 11.5)

The reigning Super Bowl Champs are coming into the 2019 season as overwhelming favorites once again, and why shouldn’t they be? They have quite possibly the best coach and quarterback of all time on the same team. But there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the organization this year. They’ll be without Rob Gronkowski unless he comes out of retirement, which honestly wouldn’t be all that surprising, and the question still must be asked: Just how long can Tom Brady stave off Father Time? He’ll be 42 in a matter of days but hasn’t shown much sign of slowing down. However, New England has already begun to transition into the next era, giving Brady a little help while also preparing for the inevitable future. The Pats took WR N’Keal Harry in the 1st round this spring and he figures to plug right in alongside Julian Edelman. They also bring back 2nd-year RB Sony Michel who was unable to stay fully healthy but showed plenty of ability on the field. New England will have to replace the pass-rushing production of Trey Flowers, but if the offensive line continues to keep Brady upright, it’s hard to envision the Patriots not getting to 11 straight division titles.

New York Jets (Over/Under: 7.5)

This year the Jets are perhaps the most interesting team in the division with all the change they’ve incurred over the off-season. They have a new coach in Adam Gase, a new GM in Joe Douglas, and an infusion of new talent to go alongside some of the youngsters already on the roster. QB Sam Darnold will be entering his second year and should take a big leap forward given that Gase is an offensive-minded coach and the team should have a better run game with the signing of Le’Veon Bell. The Jets should also be much improved on defense, adding LB CJ Mosely in free agency and picking up DT Quinnen Williams in the draft. They’ll join Leonard Williams in the front seven with safety Jamal Adams holding down the back end. This team is almost certainly still a year or two away, but for the first time in a while – things are looking up for the (should be) New Jersey Jets.

Buffalo Bills (Over/Under: 7.5)

Heading upstate to Buffalo, the Bills find themselves at a similar stage in the building process as their division rival Jets. They are just a season removed from a playoff appearance, have their QB of the future in Josh Allen, and already have some talent on both sides of the ball. 3rd-year corner Tre’Davious White is already a stud, and fits into an already solid secondary with Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. They usually get good pressure off the edge from Jerry Hughes and the defense as a unit keeps them in a lot of ball games. However, the Bills had all those players last year and couldn’t repeat their playoff appearance from 2017. The fate of their season rests on the shoulders of Allen taking a big step forward in his second year. Arm strength is his best trait, but can he overcome the accuracy woes he had at Wyoming? History says no, but all accounts point to Allen as a good leader doing everything he can to get better. Time will tell, but for 2019 – this team shouldn’t challenge for a division title.

Miami Dolphins (Over/Under: 4.5)

According to OddShark, the Dolphins have the lowest Over/Under in the league this fall, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. They have a new head coach in Brian Flores, who spent just one season as the defensive coordinator of the Patriots before getting the Phins job. Ryan Tannehill is out at quarterback, and it’s painfully obvious they are simply short on talent. Last year under Adam Gase the team took an approach in free agency geared more so towards off-field leaders like Robert Quinn. That experiment failed, Gase was fired, and the team now has a change at QB after trading for Josh Rosen after an abysmal rookie year in Arizona. With Flores’ defensive background and most of the Miami talent on that side of the ball, expect the defense to be tougher. But it might be another long fall in the Florida heat as Rosen again won’t have much to work with, and another first-time head coach who has nothing to do with the offense.

Division Prediction:

New England Patriots (12-4)

New York Jets (7-9)

Buffalo Bills (6-10)

Miami Dolphins (3-13)