FF-Winners.Com Releases 5 Shocking Predictions for the Coming NFL Season

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The Cincinnati Bengals  Win the AFC North: We absolutely loved the Bengals draft class, they got two future stars in WR John Ross and RB Joe Mixon. The Bengals relied heavily on WR A.J. green early in the season and had no one step up when Green got injured late in the season. The Bengals went 6-9-1 last year basically relying on Green, a non-existent ground game and defense. Ross will take pressure off Green as he is a true deep threat that will force the defense to account for him. He can also take a slant or screen and use his blazing speed and quickness to score from anywhere on the field. Mixon would have been a top 15 pick if he had not punched a woman in 2014, he has kept his nose clean for 3 years and the Bengals took a chance on him. He was the 2nd best RB in the draft in our opinion behind Dalvin Cook as he is explosive, powerful and has great hands out of the backfield. The Bengals will bounce back and win the AFC North with a healthy Green, and two new stars to help him.

The Indianapolis Colts  Fail to Win the AFC South Again: The Colts drafted the best coverage safety in the draft in Malik Hooker, and also got a solid cover CB in Quincy Wilson to help their weak secondary, but they once again failed to upgrade their most pressing need. The Colts offensive line is a disaster and they still have not made the proper effort to upgrade it. Andrew Luck is overrated and a mediocre system QB  but not even Tom Brady could be successful with that offensive line. The combination of Luck’s mediocrity, the lack of run game and a horrible offensive line will result in yet another failed division crown. The Colts may even miss the playoffs because the Houston Texans drafted QB Deshaun Watson and the Tennessee Titans are on the rise. The Colts will once again fail to win the weakest division in professional football.

The New England Patriots  Win Yet Another Super Bowl:

The Patriots won the off-season, there is no question about that. They signed WR deep threat Brandon Cooks from the New Orleans Saints and signed shutdown CB Stephon Gilmore and power RB Mike Gillislee from the Buffalo Bills. They also drafted a solid edge rusher in Derek Rivers in the 3rd round. The Patriots are the overwhelming favorites to win it all again next year, and they will. The AFC is not as strong as the NFC and the only real challengers we see the Patriots having are the Oakland Raiders with a healthy Derek Carr and then probably the Pittsburgh Steelers as they are always dangerous in the postseason. The Patriots just came back down 25 at halftime to the red hot Atlanta Falcons and stunned the entire world to cap the most improbable super bowl victory last year. They actually improved this off-season with their first real deep threat since Randy Moss and a great CB to help their secondary. The Patriots will repeat as super bowl champs this year.

The New York Giants  Have The Best WR Corps:

The New York Giants will give opposing secondary’s nightmares as they already have one of the best three WRs in the NFL in Odell Beckham Jr. and a rising star in the slot in 2nd year Sterling Sheppard. They also added veteran WR Brandon Marshall, and with those three alone they would be one of the best WR corps in the NFL. Most people believed it could not get any better for QB Eli Manning, but that was before the 2017 NFL Draft. They got a steal with the 23rd pick in hybrid TE/WR Evan Engram, who is 6’3″ 215 Ibs and runs a 4.42 40 time. Engram will be a matchup nightmare for LBs and safeties, and then defenses will be scrambling to try and figure out who to cover and who to double. Marshall and Beckham both are stars and Sheppard and Engram are matchup problems down the seam and over the middle. Eli Manning will light up opposing defenses with all his new weapons and the Giants will win games because of the best WR corps in the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys Do Not Win 10 Games :

The Dallas Cowboys shocked everyone by winning 13 games with two major rookie contributors last year with QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. What people forget is that they were 4-12 the previous season so they played a weak schedule. This season the Cowboys will play a first place schedule which will be much tougher, plus the division rival New York Giants will be a lot better and more explosive. The Cowboys must travel to the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders as well as play the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks at home. All of these games are potential losses especially because the Cowboys did not give their defense much help. They drafted DE Taco Charlton in the first round but passed on stud MLB Reuben Foster who was a top 5 talent in this class. Teams will have an entire off-season to plan for Dak Prescott, and if we add that to the fact that they play a much tougher schedule as well as did not upgrade their defense, the Dallas Cowboys will fail to win 10 plus games this year.

AFC Divisional Playoff Forecast

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Houston Texans at New England Patriots: Texans QB Brock Osweiler surprised a lot of people in a win over the Oakland Raiders a week ago. Osweiler was 14 of 25 for 168 yards with 1 TD and no INTs, he also ran for a score. The conservative, do not make mistakes mentality allowed the Texans to score just enough points to get the win in the wild card round. The Raiders were without their star QB Derek Carr and the Texans defense, which ranked 1st in total defense, shut down the Raiders offense. This week, Osweiler will have to continue to not turn the football over as he faces his toughest challenge yet, the red hot New England Patriots and their 8th ranked total defense. We expect the Texans to try and run the ball and keep Tom Brady off the field, but eventually Osweiler will have to hit some big plays downfield if the Texans want a chance for a massive upset. We think the key will be how the Texans defense will play against the league’s 4th ranked offense. They can rush the QB with Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus off the edge, and if you can continue to harass Tom Brady you give your defense a chance to get stops. I believe it will be closer than people expect, as the Texans defense will keep them in the game but eventually the Patriots will force Osweiler into mistakes and too many 3rd and longs which will ultimately decide the game. The Texans inability to hit big plays on offense will wear the defense down as they will be on the field for too long and the Patriots should run away with it in the 4th quarter.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs: These are the two teams with the chance to upset the New England Patriots this postseason. This is the first time the Steelers have had a fully healthy “big three” in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown, so that will definitely be a major factor. The Dolphins could not stop Brown as he had 5 catches for 124 yards and two TDs in their win last week. We believe the Chiefs star CB Marcus Peters will do a much better job of limiting what Brown can do in the pass game, and force other WRs to beat them. The Chiefs defense has been susceptible this season, as they rank 24th in total defense, but they make up for it with a league leading +16 in turnover differential. The Chiefs defense forces you into mistakes and their offense does not make very many mistakes. The Chiefs are a completely different team with an emerging star in WR Tyreek Hill, who led the league in 60 plus yard TDs this year. He is explosive and a great complement to WR Jeremy Maclin and the All-Pro TE Travis Kelce over the middle. RB Spencer Ware has done a nice job filling in for the injured Jamaal Charles, and we believe the Chiefs will have great balance on offense. The biggest key to this game is QB Alex Smith, he has been called a game manger in the past but he has the ability to rip it downfield. The key will be his legs, which are vastly underrated. Smith runs the read-option and is far more athletic than people think, he can convert big third downs on the ground if the defense plays man across the board which will be a huge factor in sustaining drives. This game is a toss up, but I think that the Chiefs defense will get enough stops, force some turnovers and allow the offense to manage the game, while hitting a few big plays. The Chiefs should get the win with the help of their home-field advantage, but it will be a great game!

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

AFC Wildcard Round Forecast

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Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans: If you love great offensive football, you probably should not watch this game. The Oakland Raiders already lost starting QB Derek Carr for the postseason, and may be without backup QB Matt McGloin as he injured his shoulder in week 17. That means rookie 3rd string QB Conner Cook will start if McGloin cannot play, and that is just not a story with a great ending. The Texans, however, have QB issues of their own as QB Brock Osweiler was benched earlier this year for his poor performance, and backup Tom Savage did not impress so Osweiler is now the starter again. Brock Osweiler is a big QB with a strong arm but he struggles under pressure and is mistake prone. The only thing we like about this move is that he has the arm to stretch the ball downfield to star WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Raiders defense has improved throughout the year but they were helped out a lot by a very explosive offense that could score points with Carr under center. The Raiders offense will struggle and the Texans defense will create turnovers to allow their offense to have short fields and that will be the reason that the Texans win a low scoring, defensive battle at home.

Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers: The Dolphins defeated the Steelers 30-15 in Miami earlier this year, but Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured. This game has a very different feel to it, as all of the Steelers offensive weapons are healthy. Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and star WR Antonio Brown will all be ready to play. The Dolphins will most likely start backup QB Matt Moore as Ryan Tannehill has not practiced this week. That is a huge advantage to the Steelers despite their defense being susceptible throughout most of the year. The Dolphins must run the football with Jay Ajayi and do their best to keep the Steelers offense off the field. We think the Dolphins can score and keep it close early, but their downfall will be Matt Moore’s inability to hit big plays when they matter most and the Steelers offense exposing the Dolphins defense that ranks 29th in total defense. The Steelers and their explosive offense will eventually run away with the game as the Dolphins will struggle to keep up offensively and their defense will not be able to stop Roethlisberger and company and the Steelers will get the win at home.    Enjoy!

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

NFL 2016-7 Super Bowl Dark Horses

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Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are 7-4, and just defeated the Arizona Cardinals 38-19 at home. The Falcons are ranked 4th in total offense, and 3rd in passing offense. QB Matt Ryan has looked much more comfortable with an improved offensive line and a steady, reliable run game in Devonte Freeman. The pass defense is ranked 30th but the run defense is ranked 9th, and they are +3 in turnover differential. The Falcons have always been a dominant team in the Georgia Dome, and if they continue to play at a high level they could secure a home playoff game. With the balance they have on offense and the improving defense, we could see this team making a run in the playoffs.
New York Giants: The Giants are 8-3 and are on a 6 game win streak. The Cowboys are the obvious pick to win the NFC East, but the Giants could still sneak in the wild card and make some noise. Eli Manning is an elite QB, and they have one of the best WR trios in football with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard. The Giants last two super bowl wins, they barely snuck into the playoffs then caught fire. This team has the potential to do that again, with Manning they are never out of a game. The defense has drastically improved from last year as well, ranking 16th in total defense and 5th against the run. The NFC East is always crazy, and we could definitely see the Giants spoiling the Cowboys super bowl run and make a deep run of their own.
Denver Broncos: This is an unconventional pick from the AFC West, most would pick the Kansas City Chiefs. We like the Broncos because of their suffocating defense, they won a Super Bowl with great defense last year and they could make a run again. QB Trevor Siemian has played well, throwing for 2,396 yards 15 TDs and only 7 INTs. The Broncos have proven they can win b y not beating themselves and letting the defense keep the scores close. They still have an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with games at the Chiefs and a home finale with the Raiders. If they sneak in, they will be a tough out with that stout defense and can cause problems to the explosive offenses in the AFC.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

Ouch! 3 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat!

2019-20 NFL Computer Predictions and Rankings Coaches Uncategorized  coaches   Marvin Lewis-Cincinnati Bengals: He was once voted the AP Coach of the Year in 2009, and has a 112-92-2 career record, but he has never won a playoff game. Last year the Bengals had the playoff game against the Steelers won but then two critical 15 yard penalties allowed the Steelers to get into field goal range and win the game. The penalties sum up Lewis’ career, he takes chances on talented but hot-headed and reckless players and it came back to cost him bigtime. The Bengals have all the talent to seriously compete for a super bowl but they must stop shooting themselves in the foot and disappointing in crunch time. If they cannot win a playoff game this postseason, Lewis will be gone.
Chuck Pagano-Indianapolis Colts: Pagano has a 41-23 record with the Colts and is 3-3 in the playoffs, but he has still disappointed and the talent he has on his roster continues to underachieve. He has a franchise QB in Andrew Luck, and although I have always said Luck is highly overrated and a mere system QB at best, he has no OL to keep him healthy. The decisions by Pagano and his staff have hindered the Colts ability to have success. They have not addressed the OL and two years ago they drafted WR Phillip Dorsett when they already had a speed burner in T.Y. Hilton. He also has perhaps the dumbest playcall ever on his record, when he went for the suicidal fake punt against the New England Patriots. The Colts have gotten away with success against a very bad AFC South division, but it has improved tremendously and Pagano must find ways to sustain success and keep Luck healthy if he wants to keep his job.
Jason Garrett-Dallas Cowboys: Garrett has found a way to keep his job this long, but he must have the Cowboys make a deep playoff run in order to save himself this year. The Cowboys have one of the most talented offensive rosters in football, but they have not been able to stay healthy. They drafted RB Ezekiel Elliott to take pressure off an aging QB in Tony Romo and hope he can produce what DeMarco Murray did in 2014, when he led the league in rushing behind that great OL. The Cowboys problem is that they rely so heavily on a few players and if they get hurt, like WR Dez Bryant and Romo did last year, they have no depth to in place to compete. The defense is also a mess and the Cowboys have not done anything to fix it. Garrett must hope his stars stay healthy and that the Cowboys can finish in the 4th quarter, which is not something they are good at, as they must win shootouts just to compete. If the Cowboys miss the playoffs, it will be because of Garrett’s coaching flaws and personnel decisions and he will be gone.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

EARLY ANALYSIS: AFC North 2016-7 Forecast

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AFC North Predictions

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens had a very disappointing 2015 season, as they were supposed to contend for the AFC North but fell to a 5-11 record. The fall was mostly because of injuries to QB Joe Flacco and other key players like WR Steve Smith. The offensive line was very ineffective and they could not protect whoever the QB was. They finished 26th in rushing and only averaged 267 passing yards a game. The Ravens addressed the OL in the draft by selecting OT Ronnie Stanley from ND, who specializes in run blocking so he will immediately help the run game. The AFC North is defined by cold-weather games where one team must win in the trenches to win the division, if the Ravens improve their OL play and can keep one of the best QBs in the game upright and healthy, then they should get back into contention for the AFC North in 2016.

Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns are one of the more intriguing teams to me this year. I watched the NFL Draft just waiting for the Browns to pull another “Browns move”, but it never happened. I think the new Browns’ regime actually knows how to build a franchise that could develop into a contender down the road. The Browns traded back in the draft twice, getting draft picks and resisting the temptation to reach for players like they did in the past. They got WR Corey Coleman in the first round and have a new QB in Robert Griffin lll. Hue Jackson is a great QB coach so he can develop Griffin into the player he was once as a rookie. The Browns have some talent now, with RBs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson as well as LT Joe Thomas and CB Joe Haden. The biggest problem for the Browns has been poor coaching a QB play, but everything I have seen so far from Hue Jackson suggests this will no longer be an issue. The Browns will not improve much in the wins column, but they will take strides to compete down the road.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers finished second in the division with a 10-6 record, which is a testament to how resilient this team is. QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 3,938 yards and 21 TDs, but also threw 16 INTs. With all the weapons at his disposal in Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and a workhorse RB in Le’Veon Bell, there is no reason for a veteran super bowl champion QB to throw that many INTs. Bell was hurt for a lot of last year, and so was Roethlisberger but RB DeAngelo Williams and QB Mike Vick stepped up produced. The Steelers won 10 games with key injuries and a lot of turnovers, not to mention the leagues 30th ranked pass defense. They drafted CB Artie Burns in the first round but he does not really fit the scheme. He is a better zone CB and can break on the ball but the Steelers run a lot of man coverage. It will be interesting to see how Burns helps the secondary in 2016. The Steelers are one of the most talented teams in the NFL, but their defense must improve and they must stay healthy if they want to make a deep playoff run which they are capable of doing in 2016.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals were one of the best teams in the NFL last year, but playoff demons continue to haunt this team. The Bengals had the Wild Card game wrapped up and won, but Vontaze Burfict had two crucial 15 yard penalties in the final minutes which set up the Steelers game winning field goal. That game sums up the Bengals, they are extremely talented a can win games but when it matters most in crunch time, they make mental mistakes and lose by shooting themselves in the foot. This is a risk you take when you have players with character concerns like Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones. The Bengals were in the top 15 for both passing and rushing, which means they are balanced offensively and they use that to their advantage with play action passes to A.J. Green. They also went out and drafted WR Tyler Boyd, who is a big physical WR who can cause problems for defenses on third down. They also drafted a playmaker in William Jackson III who can instantly help improve the 20th ranked pass defense. Jackson is a ball hawk and will create turnovers to give Andy Dalton and company short fields. The Bengals can get it done in the regular season, but they must prove they can win playoff games.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

Cardale Jones: Boom or Bust? It Depends on Him!

2019-20 NFL Computer Predictions and Rankings Uncategorized  jones depends cardale   Former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones was one of the most polarizing draft prospects in recent memory. In 2014 when starters Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett went down with injuries, he led the Buckeyes to three straight post-season wins en route to a national championship. His impressive performances against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon led some scouts to believe he should leave school early as he possessed all the physical traits of a QB. Jones is 6′ 5″ and 250 pounds, with a pure rocket for an arm. He is tough to bring down with one defender and he can keep plays alive with his feet. It’s obvious why scouts were intrigued by him, but Jones is raw and has immaturity issues. Ohio State was able to maximize his strengths and minimize his flaws during their 3 game championship run. They ran the ball a combined 76 times with RB Ezekiel Elliott for 696 yards and 8 TDs. Jones was asked only to launch it deep to WR Devin Smith when he was matched up one on one, and he used his legs to convert third downs. Ohio State did not ask him to read and dissect defenses, because as 2015 proved, he struggled with it. He started the season as the Buckeyes QB but struggled with reading defenses and not turning the ball over as he threw 8 TDs but 5 INTs.

I believe Urban Meyer started Jones because of his upside, and how his big frame makes it very difficult for defenders to bring him down. This was evident in the season opener at Virginia Tech when Bud Foster sent lots of blitzes and about 3 or 4 times the Hokies defenders had Jones wrapped up but they could not bring him down for the sack. He was eventually replaced by J.T Barrett because of his immaturity and inability to protect the football. When Jones is forced to read defenses and make decisions, and cannot just chuck it deep against man coverage like last season, he struggles. He is a project for the Buffalo Bills and should sit the bench for a few years to develop, especially his short and intermediate accuracy and timing. I was surprised the Bills drafted Jones after their misfortunes with former 1st round pick E.J. Manual, who is another big framed QB with a strong arm but struggled with accuracy and turnovers. As a QB myself, I believe the most important physical tool of a QB is accuracy, and getting the ball out on time and on target. Jones needs to improve his accuracy and needs to mature a lot before he can become a starter in the NFL. Cardale Jones has a lot of upside and a cannon for an arm, but the Bills will need to be patient and really develop him into a guy who is comfortable reading defenses and throws the ball accurately with minimal turnovers. He is a major project, and it will be his maturity and willingness to sit and develop that will ultimately dictate his future in the NFL.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]


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NFC North Predictions

Detroit Lions: The Lions lost a huge piece of their recent success when star WR Calvin Johnson announced his retirement. Matthew Stafford will have to find ways to move the ball without Johnson. Stafford threw for 4,262 yards and 32 TDs but also had 13 INTs. Young receivers must step up if they want to score points against QBs Aaron Rodgers and Teddy Bridgewater and their offenses. The defense must also step up and improve as they were 18th in total defense last year and 19th in rushing defense, that is not a formula for success against RBs Eddie Lacy and Adrian Peterson. They drafted Ohio State OT Taylor Decker in the first round to help protect Stafford, but they must also address the receivers and run defense if they want to compete in this very competitive division.

Chicago Bears: The Bears can never seem to have success on both sides of the ball at the same time. Under Lovie Smith their defense was one of the best every year, but their offense was lacking and it cost them a Super Bowl in 2006. Marc Trestman improved the offense but the defense was awful, so they brought in John Fox. Fox has brought balance but must see improvement from QB Jay Cutler who threw for over 3,600 yards but also had a mere 21 TDs to 11 INTs. They lost versatile RB Matt Forte in free agency but will have one of the best young WR duos in Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White, a former first round pick. The passing defense ranked 4th in the league last year, but they ranked 22nd in rush defense. They must sure up that front 7 to stop the great RBs in that division. They drafted OLB Leonard Floyd to help improve both the pass rush and their ability to stop the run. The Bears season depends on how much Jay Cutler and the defense improve, the talent is there for a playoff run.

Green Bay Packers: The Packers were one of the most peculiar teams last year. QB Aaron Rodgers lost WR Jordy Nelson for the season and it affected their offense more than people initially believed it would. Nelson was the true #1, which allowed Randall Cobb to play in the slot creating mismatches. Rodgers had a “down year” but still managed to throw for 3,821 yards, 31 TDs and only 8 INTs, which quite frankly shows that Rodgers is still great in down years. The offense was, however, inconsistent and went three and out a lot. RB Eddie Lacy seemed nonexistent down the stretch but has said he has gotten back into shape. The defense is much like the Bears in that they were great in the secondary, but were bad against the run as they ranked 6th and 21st. WR Jordy Nelson will be back healthy which will open up the offense a lot more, and with a QB in Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are always a deep playoff run contender.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are the reigning NFC North champions, and they have improved this off-season. They ranked 29th in total offense and 31st in passing offense last year, so they went and drafted the best WR in the draft in my opinion in Laquon Treadwell. This will help QB Teddy Bridgewater develop and improve from his 3,231 yards with just 14 TDs and 9 INTs a year ago. Treadwell, along with versatile playmaker Stefon Diggs, will take the pressure off star RB Adrian Peterson to carry the load of the offense. The defense ranked 13th in total defense and 12th in pass defense, but went out and drafted CB Mackensie Alexander from Clemson. Alexander is a great all-around CB, but to me he excels in zone coverage and making plays on the ball, which will be critical against the QBs in this division. The Vikings won the division with a weak offense, but they went out and got a lot better on that side of the ball so they should compete in the NFC North this year as well.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

Three NFL Teams With Awesome 2016 Drafts!

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Cleveland Browns: The Browns are usually on the losers of the draft, but not this year. They traded away the 2nd overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles and got lots of picks including a first rounder in next year’s draft. They then traded the 8th pick to the Titans and got even more picks while drafting speedy WR Corey Coleman later in the first round. They also got two great pass rushers in Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib, along with a nice addition to the OL in Shon Coleman. They then got QB Cody Kessler to add more competition with Robert Griffin lll. The Browns had a solid draft, but since it is the so often incompetent Cleveland Browns, they definetely had a great draft by their standards and should show improvement.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders struck gold by drafting the best safety in the draft in Karl Joseph, who has solid coverage skills but specializes in coming into the box and unloading on RBs and WRs. The Raiders needed defensive help, and they got it with pass rushers Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun. Ward is raw but has a ton of upside if he can develop and Calhoun has some of the best technique of any DE in this class. They also drafted a solid backup to QB Derek Carr in Connor Cook, who was widely considered to be the 3rd or 4th best QB in the draft. The Raiders have a young nucleus of talent on offense with Carr, WR Amari Cooper and RB Latavius Murray, so the defensive additions should help the Raiders win more games this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars had the best draft by far in my opinion, they were able to land two top 5 players in this draft. CB Jalen Ramsey was the best player in this class to me because of his versatility, size and elite athleticism. They also got a steal in LB Myles Jack at the top of the second round. Jack fell so far because of a knee injury he suffered in college that ended his season. Before that injury, he would have been a top 5 selection. The Jaguars also essentially have another 1st round player coming in this year as their top pick last year DE Dante Fowler suffered a season-ending injury in minicamp. With a healthy Ramsey, Jack and Fowler the Jaguars defense should be much improved and will help out the offense. The Jaguars are young but extremely talented on both sides of the ball and can compete in the AFC South this year.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]

EARLY ANALYSIS: AFC East 2016-7 Forecast


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Last season, the New England Patriots won the AFC East with a 12-4 record and were the only team to clinch a playoff berth from that division. The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills showed much improvement but both teams barely missed the playoffs a year ago. The Miami Dolphins finished with a 6-10 record but there is room for optimism with a new head coach in Adam Gase and a young but talented roster.

New England Patriots: It is crazy how the whole first part of the schedule can change so drastically in one day. Tom Brady’s appealed 4 game suspension has been reinstated by a federal appeals court. This means they will be without Brady when they travel to Arizona and Houston and play division rivals the Dolphins and Bills at home. They could win some of those games but it would not be a surprise if they lost at least one of the divisional games without Brady. They still have the best TE in the game in Rob Gronkowski and a solid slot WR who can split out wide in Julian Edelman. Last year they ranked 10th in total defense but lost versatile OLB and pass rusher Chandler Jones who is now in Arizona. One thing about the Patriots over the years is whenever they lose stars they never seem to lose a step, as more guys step up to replace the production. Expect the same this year, they might also want to draft a pass rusher as this draft is loaded with them. They might drop a few games early on without Brady, but this team will definitely be one of the best teams in the AFC in 2016.

Miami Dolphins: Miami is coming off a disappointing 6-10 season, and has a new head coach in Adam Gase. A new coach always means a new culture and early optimism, especially because the Dolphins have a talented QB in Ryan Tannehill who threw for 4,208 yards with 24 TDs and 12 INTs. They have an emerging superstar WR in Jarvis Landry who caught 110 passes for 1,157 yards. They also have a 2nd year WR receiver DeVante Parker who was their first round draft pick in the 2015 draft. They need to get him more involved in the offense as he only had 26 catches last year. They lost RB Lamar Miller and must have someone step up to replace him, perhaps that will be Jay Ajayi who showed flashes last year but must stay healthy. Defensively the Dolphins were 25th in total defense and 21st against the pass. They also lost star CB Brent Grimes in free agency and should invest in the defense in the 2016 draft. The Dolphins have talent offensively but just need to put it together so they can be competitive in the division.

New York Jets: The Jets were supposed to be a cellar dweller last year, but all they did was win 10 games and nearly made the playoffs. They did this with much improved QB play by first year starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 3,905 yards with 31 TDs and 15 INTs. The Jets seem undecided about his future, as they have not yet resigned him with rumors about drafting QB Paxton Lynch in the first round. The Jets should stick with Fitzpatrick and try to address other needs, a rookie QB would set back their success too far. On offense they have talent around Fitzpatrick, with star WR Brandon Marshall (109 receptions for 1,502 yards and 14 TDs) and Eric Decker who is a good complement to Marshall. They also signed versatile RB Matt Forte this offseason who is a solid receiver out of the backfield and a have a RB with game changing speed in Dri Archer. The Jets were in the top five for both total defense and rushing defense, if there is an area that they should address it is in the backend as they ranked 13th. This draft class is deep with talented CBs and they could maybe take Eli Apple or William Jackson to help improve the secondary. The Jets have lots of talent to compete for the division, it all just depends on whether or not they feel Ryan Fitzpatrick is their QB or not.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills had arguably the breakout player of the year in QB Tyrod Taylor. Many felt he could not beat out E.J. Manual or Matt Cassel for the starting job during training camp. All he did was win the job and throw for 3,035 yards, 20 TDs and 5 INTs while also running for 568 yards and 4 TDs. Taylor led them to an 8-8 record and nearly got them a playoff berth. He seemed to find instant chemistry with superstar WR Sammy Watkins who caught 60 passes for 1,047 yards and 9 TDs while missing 3 games due to injury. RB LeSean McCoy missed 4 games but still managed to rush for 895 yards. Karlos Williams also showed promise when McCoy was out. The Bills defense was supposed to be a strength heading into the season, but turned out to be a major liability. They finished 19th in total defense, 16th in rush defense and 19th against the pass. Rex Ryan has always been known for his great, physically imposing defenses and if the Bills want to make the playoffs they must get back to that style of defense. They might want to address the defensive line in the draft as they lost DE Mario Williams. The Bills would be smart to take Jarran Reed in the first round because he is a space- eater inside a great run defender. In order for the Bills to make the playoffs, they must keep their key players healthy. Tyrod Taylor, Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy all missed games last year and they must also improve an uncharacteristically bad Rex Ryan defense.

Bottom Line: The AFC East will not have to deal with Tom Brady for the first 4 weeks, but the Patriots will once again be extremely competitive when he returns. The Jets must figure out their QB situation but have the talent to compete for the division. The Bills must stay healthy and get better defensively and the Dolphins must buy in to a new coach and culture to have any chance at competing. Right now, the Patriots still look like the best team in this division but the Bills and Jets are closing in on the reigning division champions.

[Analysis by NFL expert Preston Rowe]