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The AFC East...who's going to be #1?

By Dean Nicosia 

8/2/03

It's almost time for football again and again all of the football "experts" are back with their predictions for this year. Well, I'm not an expert, so I am usually wrong, but I would like to take issue with those that put the Dolphins/Bills at the top of the AFC east and but the Patriots/Jets at the bottom. 

 It's hard for me to argue with the notion that the Jets may just stink this year, but never count them out. They seem to change players every year and just like the Steelers they seem to manage to do well. But when you look at what the Jets lost this year, most significantly Coles, you have to wonder if the Pennington train is going to be derailed this year. 

 The Dolphins are tough every year, this year will be no exception, which is hard for me to admit given how much I can't stand to see them do well. The best trade they've made in many years was the acquisition of Ricky Williams. Whatever your person feelings on Ricky, there is no denying that he is the real deal, and every time he touches the ball you have to wonder if he's going all the way with it. Mike Ditka "da Bears" knew what he was doing when he took this kid, giving up every other pick in the draft to get him, he is worth it. And if Ditka was given the chance to stay a few more years and build a team around him, it would have worked out. As it is they went out and drafted McAllister, and are now running strong with him.  Ricky Williams is a franchise player, and this year he will continue proving that.

 Defense has been Miami's strong suit the past couple of years, and I'm sure this will be the case again this year, but I do question the size of this D and the ability to keep playing above their heads. This D was put together with speed, toughness and good schemes.  But with age and the heat in Florida, you wonder if this D won't lose a step this year. As other teams put together game plans to beat this D, they have enough tape to look at, and without big power guys in this mix, you wonder if might be hard for them to stop certain teams. 

Overall, Miami is a good team, the QB position may turn into a "controversy" with Bob Jr. sitting in the backup spot, and we all know that a QB controversy can be a bad thing. But they will put a solid product on the field and give the other teams in the AFC east a run for thier money. Putting them if first place above the Patriots, on the other hand, is just down right stupid.  We Patriot fans know what talent and coaching we have in store for the league this year, and we know that we will be giving Miami a run for thier money, leaving the top spot in this division a toss-up.

Buffalo has made improvements on D, a much needed situation for this team, but unfortunately for Drew, they have lost a step on offense, make one wonder if it won't be a classic trade-off. Bledsoe made a huge splash into his new team last year, bringing his career roaring back to life. But his sophomore year with his new team may bring the usual slump. Don't get me wrong, if Drew stays healthy, he should have a decent year, but I don't see the same output in store for him as last year. Price is gone, leaving too much pressure on Moulds, in the form of double coverage. While I like this kid Reed, I don't think he is ready to fill the shoes of Price, especially when you look at the defenses they will be facing. Riemersma, the TE for Drew (we all know how drew loves to throw to TEs) is gone for Pitt now, and while they have adequate TE's, the production at the spot may suffer. The best catching FB in the league, whom Drew went to 43 times last year, Larry Centers is wearing a Pat's uniform this year. While Sam Gash is good, he is not the receiver that Centers is. Will this offense gel right away, or will the be slow out of the gate? If the Bill get behind in this division, you can count them out. They have big plans and big talk, but don't put them ahead of the Patriots when making predicions. 

So here goes, my prediction for the AFC east this year;

1. New England (solid D improvements, third year for Brady (third year is a charm for QBs), best coaching in league)

2. Miami (solid overall team, Ricky, nice weather)

3. New York (every year they do better than you think, I was thinking last place)

4. Buffalo (questionable coaching, statue QB in a tough Defensive division, problems early will cause locker room troubles and cause the bandwagon to empty out)

Leave a message on the board with your prediction for the AFC east!!!

...Thatís just my slanted view! God Bless, and Go Patriots!!!

Dean

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