For the final month leading up to the regular season, I will be featuring two “Over/Under” pieces per week. I’ll take a New England Patriots or AFC East topic and give you my opinion of whether we will see more (over) or less (under) than the number provided.
In piece number 4 in my 8-part “Over/Under” series, we look at the AFC East and their playoff implications. In the last 6 seasons, the AFC East has only taken 2 Wild card spots. Will there be more than one team representing the East in this years playoffs?
AFC East: Over or Under 1.5 Playoff Teams
The AFC East is never one of the top divisions in the NFL. Divisions like the AFC North, NFC East, and NFC North have tow or three teams with legitimate playoff aspirations every season. Its rare to see two teams come from the AFC East, but I think it will happen this year.
The Patriots are still the leaders of the division, and I think they will take yet another AFC East title. Even with the major changes on offense, they are still capable of moving the ball effectively. The run game will be Brady’s best friend, and should help to open up some of the younger wide receivers.
Once Rob Gronkowski returns from the PUP list, all will be well in the land of Belichick. The jury is still out on New England’s defense, but it can’t be much worse than recent seasons. I believe they have added the proper personnel to have a breakout season, and may finally find success in their pass defense.
The Miami Dolphins have been one of the hottest teams this offseason, spending plenty of cash on top-notch free agents.
Mike Wallace and Dustin Keller could be the missing pieces for a Dolphins offense that played decently last season. Lamar Miller continues to impress, and could outperform a lot of expectations this season. Reggie Bush has only had one 1,000 yard rushing season, so Miller has a big chance to improve Miami’s run game.
One of the questions heading into the 2013 season is Miami’s offensive line. Jake Long is with St. Louis, so the weight of Ryan Tannehill’s blindside falls on Jonathan Martin. If the offensive line can hold up, then Tannehill should be in for a big year. Mike Wallace is a nice upgrade from Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline was a must-sign this offseason. Miami now has the best receivers in the AFC East.
Defensively, the Fins should be in good shape this season. Cameron Wake is one of the premier edge-rushers in the entire NFL. I would label him the best pass rusher in the AFC East. Adding Brent Grimes and Dannell Ellerbe was great for Miami. The Dolphins were pretty bad in pass coverage last year. Any improvement on defense might be what the Dolphins need to take the next step and make the playoffs. I think the Miami Dolphins will go 9-7 (at best 10-6) and take the final Wild Card spot.
I believe there will be two AFC East playoff teams this season.