New England Patriots remain supreme in AFC East power rankings
1. New England Patriots
2016 Record: 14-2, 1st in the AFC East
The New England Patriots enter the 2017 regular season fresh off their second Super Bowl win in three years. Despite surrendering only two losses last season, the defending champs continued to add talent to their roster throughout the offseason. Among New England’s biggest free agent acquisitions are former Buffalo Bills, Stephon Gilmore, and Mike Gillislee. In addition, the Patriots also added wide receiver Brandin Cooks and drafted defensive ends Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise.
In 2016, the Patriots finished the season with a 5-1 record versus their division. The lone defeat came in Week 4 against the Bills. It should be noted that rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was under center for New England. Regardless, Buffalo took the win, 16-0. The Patriots won their other five division games by an average margin of victory of 17.4 points, including a 41-3 trouncing of the New York Jets.
Buffalo and New York both lost their starting cornerbacks in free agency, in contrast, New England traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Since entering the league, he’s averaged over 10 yards per catch and over 50 yards per game. Combine that with the Tom Brady’s 12 touchdowns vs the division last season, and you’ve got your 2017 AFC East champions. Even with the Dolphins’ playoff berth last season, the Patriots’ offseason moves far outweigh any ground Miami may have gained.
New England’s first division game of next season will come in Week 6 when they visit the Jets. Following Week 11, the team will play five of six games against their division, comprising of back-to-back matchups in Miami and Buffalo.