A Totally Biased Way-Too-Big NFL Preview: The AFC East

In case you missed it, here’s Trav’s breakdown of the NFC East from yesterday!

For the average football fan, the NFL season lasts September to February. Keyword: Average.

At Totally Biased, we’re not your average NFL fans. We’re the year-round, stat-crunching, beer-drinking, hot-wing eating, no shirt and painted stomach in the winter, fan. For us, the season doesn’t end. There is no off-season. We love football. Now that I mention it, we should probably change the site name to Totally Addicted.

Okay, let’s get on with it.

Let’s face it, the Patriots OWN the AFC East. For the last 12 seasons, New England has won the division ten times and one of those seasons didn’t count because Tom Brady was injured. That’s just the way it is here in Maine.

As for 2013, the outcome should be no different. With Tom Brady’s knee still intact (knock on wood) and Bill Belichick still in command, the Patriots should again be the kings of the AFC East.

The Dolphins have made improvements on offense and on defense, but are they enough to dethrone the mighty Patriots? As for the Bills and Jets, how painful will their rebuilding process be, and how long will they take?

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New England Patriots

2012 Recap: After a strong 12-4 finish to the 2012 season, and a deep run into the playoffs, the Patriots’ season ended at the AFC Championship game to the Baltimore Ravens. New England led the league in total offense and total points scored, but we all know that stats mean nothing to us Pats fans. Anything less than a Lombardi Trophy is considered a failure. Yeah, we’ve been spoiled lately.

Injuries to key offensive weapons like Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Julian Edelman forced Tom Brady to rely heavier on Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. Without Brady’s top target, New England was unable to generate their usual Red-Zone offense and move the chains. The defense made improvements but not where they needed to be to compete for a title. With added depth and a whole new stock of targets for Mr. Brady, the Patriots can once again soar over the rest of the AFC East.

Biggest Off-season Move: Aqib Talib. Re-signing the Patriots #1 corner was without a doubt the biggest off-season move New England made. Talib, a once troubled corner, has shined in his role with the Pats. With a full off-season to gel with his fellow cornerbacks, Aqib Talib has become a leader for in the defensice backfield and should help shore up a Patriots defense that has been atrocious in Pass Defense.

Breakout Player: Kenbrell Thompkins. You probably haven’t heard of him, but you will. Thompkins, the 6’1″ 195 pound un-drafted wide-out from Cincinnati is the newest weapon added to Brady’s arsenal. Thompkins runs crisp routes and is clearly on the same page with Brady, which was one of the Patriots biggest question marks going in to training camp. He has the ability to be a deep threat for the offense, a dynamic in which New England didn’t have last season. Of course, anyone is an improvement over Brandon Lloyd.

Crucial Match-up: vs Denver Broncos, Sunday Night, Septmber 24th. Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady. Wes Welker returns to Foxboro. This game could have both teams playing for the #1 seed in the AFC. Must Watch.

Miami Dolphins

2012 Recap: Ryan Tannehill’s first full season as the stater went just a expected. Not so great. The Dolphins finished the 2012 with a 7-9 record and a second place finish in the AFC East. As the year went on, Tannehill’s game improved and although they finished with a losing record, the Dolphins have reasons to be optimistic. Miami will have to overcome key departures from free agency: Reggie Bush, Jake Long and Anthony Fasano just to name a few. Bush especially, who ran for 986 yards and 6 TDs, packed his bags for Detriot, leaving questions marks in the Miami backfield.

Biggest Off-season Move: Mike Wallace. The Dolphins spent a pretty penny to get their stud wide-out. Wallace is a burner that can stretch the field and take the top off the defense. Wallace will be a perfect compliment to Brian Hartline, who’s coming off a 1,000 yard season.

Breakout Player: Ryan Tannehill. After a mediocre season, Ryan Tannehill is expected to have a breakout season in 2013. The Dolphins added the aforementioned Wallace and re-signed stud wide receiver Hartline. If Miami can protect their 2nd year starter, then the Dolphins could be in for a big year and even contend the AFC East title. Yeah, we’ll see.

Crucial Match-up: vs. New England Patriots, Sunday, December 15th. Miami could be contending for a division title and they must prove it late in the year.

Buffalo Bills

2012 Recap: It’s been 8 years since the Buffalo Bills have had a winning record and 2012 was no different. Another 6-10 finish to the season sparked a number of changes in the Bills locker room. From hiring new coach Doug Marrone, to replacing starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick with their top draft pick, EJ Manuel. A totally revamped team is just what the Bills may need to reach the next level.

Biggest Off-season Move: Firing Chan Gailey. After three dreadful seasons and a 16-32 record, the Buffalo Bills parted ways with their most recent head coach. The Bills will now be led by Head Coach Doug Marrone, the former Syracuse coach and New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator. Marrone will have his work cut out for him as he must take on a team with the biggest playoff drought in the NFL. Good Luck to ya, Doug.

Breakout Player: Robert Woods. The Bills second round choice came in the form of a wide receiver from So-Cal.The USC product will line up opposite of the Bills #1 wide out, Stevie Johnson. With Woods’ great hands and crisp route-running, Buffalo will finally have another legitimate target to throw to.

Crucial Match-up: vs Baltimore Ravens, Sept 29th. Anytime you face the reigning Super Bowl Champions its a huge match-up. This Week 4 contest will give us some insight as to where this team is headed in 2013.

New York Jets

2012 Recap: 2012. Ahh, the year of the Butt-Fumble. Need I say more? … No, really. That’s it.

Biggest Off-season Move: Trading Darrelle Revis. The Jets traded away one of the game’s best cornerbacks for the 13th pick in the 2013 Draft and a 2014 conditional draft pick. The Jets are in a rebuilding process, but there is no better player to build a team around than a shut-down CB like Revis. This trade doesn’t make much sense to me, but neither does having Mark Sanchez at QB. The Jets will have to rely on Antonio Cromartie and their new 1st round draft choice Dee Millner as their top corners heading into the 2013 campaign.

Breakout Player: Jeff Cumberland. With Dustin Keller being shipped to the Jets Division Rival the Miami Dolphins, Cumberland will have a shot to start and build off his 2012 campaign. Cumberland grabbed 29 passes for 359 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. If all goes well, and Mark Sanchez is benched, then Cumberland could have a break-out year for Gang Green.

Crucial Match-up: vs New England Patriots, Thursday Night Football, Sept 12th. As their first big test of the season, the Jets will square off with their arch-rival Patriots on Thursday Night Football. 

Check back tomorrow when Travis breaks down the NFC West!

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