Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: AFC East Predictions

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Published on : August 6, 2015

 

The AFC East promises another season of domination from the whiney, albeit victorious Super Bowl champs in New England, along with a rejuvenated Buffalo, a front office in Miami that’s literally gambling on it’s future, and a sad sack Jets crew in need of some meaningful leadership.

The visions… They are upon me!

 

New England Patriots:

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Let’s not pretend for one second that Tom Brady’s four-game suspension (should it hold up in court) affects New England’s season one iota. Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the better backup QB’s in the league and he’s got an arsenal of lethal weapons at his disposal. The Patriots fate doesn’t lie in the hands of Tom “The Unicorn” Brady, beautiful and mythical though he may be, but instead lies tightly clenched in the fists of its head coach. That’s right, the super-villain intellect and flinty heart of Bill Belichick is what keeps this team winning more than its fair share of games, and until he hangs up the hoodie for good it will continue that way like clockwork.

I’m curious to see if Brandon LaFell continues to improve and eventually wins the contest to become Brady’s “go to” receiver over Julian Edelman. Also, one of my favorite stories of last year’s playoffs was the miraculous resurrection of LeGarrette Blount from a shamed pariah to a clutch grinder, running with a chip on his shoulder.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The Pats breeze into the playoffs, probably making it all the way to the Super Bowl. They lose the big one in another heartbreaker, as they’ve done about the same amount of times as they’ve won. Blount will disappoint without the fire to his feet, possibly leading the way for Jonas Gray (Michigan boy, just saying). Overall the run game will be a mixed bag, while the pass game will be frighteningly effective. Gronk’s gonna rack up a bazillion touchdowns, so get him for your fantasy team. My magic crystal ball, no matter how cloudy, feels utterly unnecessary in this case.

 

 

Buffalo Bills:

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This is one of the teams I’m most excited to watch this season. The introduction of a new, flashy, and often obnoxious, coach is just what a morose fan-base needs to shake out the cobwebs. The real story here though is the math equation of Rex plus Jim Schwartz, equaling the greatest meeting of NFL antiheroes in recent memory. It’s like if Bill Cowher and Jim Harbaugh got together, or Bill Belichick and the Devil ran a team.

You kind of know what you’re getting with a Bills ticket: solid defense and a committed and formidable running game. That’s only going to get amplified with Rex onboard, and I think it may ultimately be a detriment to making the team more well rounded. Sammy Watkins isn’t going to single-handedly turn around EJ Manuel’s career, and why would Manuel risk making himself look bad when he can hand the ball off to Shady?

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Ryan and Schwartz are characters for sure, but they’re characters worth paying attention to. If anyone can breathe life back into this franchise (without, you know, lots of wins) it’s Rex. The Bills will win more games this season, despite some serious weaknesses that will hurt them in the long run. The good news is that in the short term, talk of an impending move out of Buffalo will stop, and a proud team can continue playing in a town that deserves football.

 

 

Miami Dolphins:

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There’s a spending spree going on down in Miami, and head coach Joe Philbin has been talking like he’s got something to prove. Yet, all the big words, and wheeling and dealing smacks of desperation. Miami’s not in the running for Super Bowl and these moves may create a “laugh now, cry later” effect. For the fans, the addition of Ndamukong Suh should be thrilling, and he’ll be worth the money, but let’s face it: no game has ever been won or lost on the shoulders of one player, especially not a defensive tackle.

Tannehill is a solid quarterback who has that increasingly rare attribute of consistency at the position, but the flip side is that he’s consistently above average, and almost never brilliant. I did look over the Tannehill contract and it’s not as crazy as some have suggested, but again, it’s another example of the money piling up for a team that’s going to have some financially lean years to deal with sooner than later. With Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller in the backfield you’ve got another argument for consistency, and that’s a good thing.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

I think Philbin’s going to partially get his wish with a roller coaster season that defies the workman-like nature of many of its players. When they win, they’ll crush it, and when they lose the team will collapse utterly, with Suh as the lone man trying to hold down the fort. At the end of the day they’re going to end up with an above .500 season, but it’ll be a frustration for Philbin and fans alike when the playoffs remain definitively out of reach.

 

 

New York Jets:

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I am not envious of Todd Bowles. The guy is coming into a broken organization, with a presumed starting QB that is a poor decision making machine (who also yells back at frustrated fans), and a veritable hornets’ nest of injuries, arrests, and contract disputes. What I question most is the decision of the head office to hire a defense expert when the Jets ain’t exactly dying in that department. It’s the offense that needs the most work.

I don’t think it would be a terrible idea to start Ryan Fitzpatrick over Geno Smith and work a more ground-based, short passing game. Brandon Marshall is going to be a huge addition to this team, but like Eric Decker learned, you gotta have someone that can throw you the ball. There’s a chance that the one/two punch of Marshall and Decker can make some fun things happen no matter who slings, but… but… Exactly. Let’s also not forget that hell hath no fury like Rex spurned: those two divisional games between the Jets and the Bills are going to be absolute bloodbaths.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

More hurt for Gang Green with another losing season. Bowles is the silver lining as he works out a new identity for the team. The best to hope for is a year of productive adjustments, learning, and system jiggering, and then come back next year as a contender with a serious purpose.

 


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