New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami Dolphins

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Sep 7, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback

Tom Brady

(12) is sacked by Miami Dolphins defensive end

Cameron Wake

(91) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 33-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are looking to continue their stranglehold on the AFC East which they maintained for the past decade and a half. Since 2001, the Patriots have finished first in the division every season except just twice: in 2002 and 2008. In 2002 the Patriots finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs but finished in a three-way tie for first place losing out on the playoffs solely on tiebreakers. In 2008 they won 11 games and missed the playoffs after Tom Brady was injured in week one and they only lost the division to the Dolphins and final wild card spot to the Ravens due to tiebreakers again.

New England has now won ten or more game for twelve consecutive seasons. They have won six AFC East titles in a row and now have finished first in the division in 11 of the last 12 seasons.  With four Super Bowl wins and six trips to the big game, they are clearly the top team in the NFL this millennium. During the past decade and a half, the other three teams in the AFC East have been stuck looking up at the Patriots season after season.

In the past few seasons each other team in the AFC East has proudly beat their chests in the offseason and declared this is finally their season to dethrone the champs:

First it was the New York Jets who–after defeating the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round following the 2010 season behind brash coach Rex Ryan–declared the Patriots’ Reign of the AFC East over. The Jets imported veteran wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason in the 2011 offseason after making the AFC Championship game while adding outside linebacker Aaron Maybin and drafting Muhammad Wilkerson. Instead of toppling Bill Belichick and the Patriots, the Jets instead went on to lose 38 games over the next four years and Ryan was fired.

Next: Looking at the Miami Dolphins