The Infallible Preview of the 2014 NFL Season: AFC East

If Stevan Ridley falters, Shane Vereen will become the feature back as he is already the receiving back.
If Stevan Ridley falters, Shane Vereen will become the feature back as he is already the receiving back.

New England (11-5). No one likes the Patriots, but apparently the other GMs in the AFC East do because no one wants to compete. The Pats have Stevan Ridley back at running back and if he doesn’t drop the ball there shouldn’t be any problems. Sadly, he drops the ball. A lot. So seeing Shane Vereen as the feature back might not be so crazy. He’s already the best receiving back on the team. The receiver corps added Brandon Lafell from the Panthers but as long as he’s hurt it won’t help Tom Brady. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will need to step up as consistent threats and stay healthy to put the Pats over the top. If Rob Gronkowski can get back to where he was two years ago then this offense has a chance to be good again. Amendola and Edelman also must both stay healthy. The addition of Brandon Browner (after he serves his suspension) might be the biggest help by season’s end.

Buffalo (9-7). This defense had a great season even after losing Kiko Alonso, with a solid showing from highly paid defense end Mario Williams. Given the offense can hold onto the ball a bit longer there’s real potential for the defensive unit to be top 5. This is the year that Marcell Dareus and Stephon Gilmore become household names. On the other side of the ball EJ Manuel will lead an offense that has to improve. Sammy Watkins has real talent and will be looked to as a number one option going forward. But don’t sleep on Robert Woods, who once was a first-team All-America-type talent churning out huge games at USC. Two other speedsters with ability to start are TJ Graham and Marquise Goodwin. And that leaves us with the two running backs of note, Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. Each of the past two seasons fantasy owners have put their faith in one of the Bills’ backs only to see them limp through the season. Here’s hoping one of these guys stays healthy for the entire season or if hurt they get the opportunity to rest rather than play through injury.

Dannell Ellerbe had a horrible first season. Not too many highlight photos to choose from in his first season in Miami.
Dannell Ellerbe had a horrible first season. Not too many highlight photos to choose from in his first season in Miami.

Miami (7-9). Mike Wallace. Dannell Ellerbe. Two names that were supposed to make a big difference last season. Sure, the offensive line issue didn’t help (and won’t this year either), but neither of these guys were above average for a team that wasn’t able to help out their young quarterback. These two guys have to be big this year or else it will be more of the same. Expect both to come through. Just remember the other problems that plague the Dolphins. The running game added Knowshon Moreno in hopes of helping out but his emergence was more a product of playing in the most effective offense in the history of the game. Ryan Tannehill needs to take a big step in order to get this team going. This defense is improved but without an offensive line this team is going to struggle.

NY Jets (5-11). Apparently there is a QB controversy in New York. Or at least that’s what the papers want us to think. Who really cares though? There’s only two or three quarterbacks in the league that could make this offense respectable. And Mike Vick of 2014 and Geno Smith aren’t the guys that are going to make that happen. Vick isn’t the explosive player he once was and his arm has never been good enough, even with elite receivers. Geno Smith still has a year or two to figure things out, but Eric Decker and Stephen Hill aren’t the quality of receivers that you need to get a guy like this to be productive. The offensive line is okay but slightly overrated and there’s not much at the wide receiver spot either. Chris Johnson has lost his speed but should be better than any of the recent runners in Jet green. The defense comes back a solid unit once again. The linebackers and defensive line are a real strength and the run defense should be set. Dee Milliner may be out a few weeks, so that hurts. But the Jets are built like teams from 10 years ago and aren’t equipped to handle the high-scoring that continues to be seen. Even if the J-E-T-S jets jets jets are able to hold opposing offenses to below 20 points a game, they don’t have a good enough offense to score that many points.

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