The Buffalo Bills need to start worrying about if the window they have is still open to bring home an AFC East title. During the offseason, the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins both made significant additions to their rosters to try and hang with the Bills, who have won the AFC during each of the past three seasons. While the New England Patriots have fallen on hard times, it is difficult to count out veteran coach Bill Belichick.
The American Football Conference as a whole has a crop of talented young quarterbacks that are reaching their primes. Nothing will come easy for any NFL team this season. When it comes to the AFC East, every team will be trying to find a leg up to get the best playoff seed they can.
You Won’t Have the Jets to Kick Around Anymore
Or at least that’s the hope New York fans have this season. The Jets have the longest playoff drought in the NFL, having not qualified in 12 years. New York’s reason for optimism comes from what the Jets were able to pull off in the offseason.
The Jets were able to trade with the Green Bay Packers to acquire Aaron Rodgers. While New York has tried over the years to draft a bona fide franchise quarterback, the Jets haven’t had much luck since Joe Namath left the team in the early 1970s. While Rodgers is 39 years old, he has shown he still has a lot of fight left in him.
Rodgers’ departure from Green Bay was a bitter breakup. He would like to use this opportunity to show everyone that he can win another Super Bowl with a different franchise. In addition to grabbing a top quarterback, the Jets have generated excitement within the AFC East with their success in the draft last season. New York had both the Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year last season in wide receiver Garrett Wilson and cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.
Another rookie, running back Breece Hall, was a key contributor for the Jets, who finished 7-10. New York is primed to dig out of the basement this season. Rodgers is a player who has been in the tabloids a lot and shouldn’t have too much of a problem handling the scrutiny of the New York media. While a division title isn’t guaranteed for the Jets, they are primed to make waves this season.
The Champs are Still Here
Buffalo finished last season 13-3, but for the third straight year, suffered a difficult playoff exit against Cincinnati. The question for the Bills is, can quarterback Josh Allen put everything together to lead them back to the Super Bowl? Allen did finish third in MVP voting but struggled with turning the ball over.
Allen tossed double-digit interceptions for the fourth time in his five seasons as a pro and lost key fumbles. Buffalo also fought off offseason drama surrounding wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs was rumored to want out, but he and the team seem to have mended fences and the Bills will once again be favorites for the AFC East title. Buffalo also added another strong target in the passing game with first-round pick Dalton Kincaid.
What may determine how well Buffalo’s season goes will be how healthy the Bills can stay. Star defender Von Miller is attempting to make a return from a torn ACL. The Bills also saw linebacker Tremaine Edwards depart in the preseason. Buffalo has wilted in the divisional round in the last two seasons. The Bills know this may be one of their last bites of the apple with this current core of players.
Can Martial Arts Build up Tua?
The Miami Dolphins had an excellent season last year and nearly upset the Bills in the first round of the playoffs. What plagued the Dolphins last season was the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa suffered several concussions last season that limited him to 13 games.
Tagovailoa started taking jiu-jitsu in the offseason to try and work with him on his balance. If Tagovailoa can stay on the field, he proved last season he is a capable NFL passer and had a strong working relationship with wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins are still looking for an answer to bolster their running game.
Miami had drafted running back De’Von Achane in the middle rounds of the 2023 draft, but he is already starting to have some shoulder issues. Miami has been linked to some trade rumors surrounding Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, but there hasn’t been any movement on a deal yet.
The Dolphins didn’t get much help in the draft this season. Miami had to forfeit one of its first-round picks due to owner Stephen Ross’ behavior, and the Dolphins decided to trade away the second first-round selection they had available.
Bill Belichick Trying to Save Wilting Dynasty
The Patriots have fallen fast since Tom Brady took his act to Tampa Bay. In two of the past three seasons, New England has failed to make the playoffs. Inconsistency at quarterback has made it hard for the Patriots to be competitive.
Mac Jones was solid as a rookie but couldn’t quite get things going last season. The Patriots are attempting to address the problem by bringing in trusted veteran players. New England brought in wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster from Kansas City and tight end Mike Gesicki from the Dolphins.
During the past draft, New England focused on bringing in a number of top defensive players. The Patriots’ first three draft picks were all on defense. New England is in real danger of being left behind in the division and conference. Belichick has typically shied away from bringing in top-tier wide receivers in the past because he didn’t believe anyone could work with Brady. But with Brady gone, the Patriots are going to need to change things up if they want to remain near the top of the AFC East.