Despite two straight appearances in the AFC Championship Game, the New York Jets have fallen short of winning their own division under Rex Ryan. Their regular season divisional record (6-6) under him also leaves plenty to be desired. Even though in recent years wild-card teams have reached the Super Bowl, it would be nice to see them finally host a home playoff game and potentially get a bye week.
Some people will say the Jets are the favorite to win the AFC East this year, considering they knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs last year. Some people will say it is still the Patriots division to lose since they have won it the past two years. Miami remains a few levels behind both teams as they struggle to get over the hump of being a sub .500 team. Buffalo is currently in rebuilding mode but can be a dangerous match-up in any given week.
Free agency will shake up the rosters of all four teams but likely not enough to change perceptions about where they stand as contenders heading into the regular season. New England could look to add a wide receiver who can be a consistent deep threat for them on the outside, who isn’t named Randy Moss. They will also be looking to add pass rushers and thus could be battling with the Jets to sign players like Matt Roth or Manny Lawson. There is still an issue for the Patriots on how to deal with guard Logan Mankins, who isn’t going to accept the franchise tag again kindly.
The Dolphins have been rumored with a wide range of names at the skill positions. At quarterback, there has been talk about Carson Palmer, Vince Young, and Matt Moore all being brought in. At running back, Reggie Bush’s name has been floated around the past week and Ahmad Bradshaw has publicly stated his interest in the Dolphins. They could also make a run at DeAngelo Williams, as they are set on improving the production of their backfield.
Buffalo has formally handed off the starting quarterback job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. They will now hope he can grow with Steve Johnson at receiver, Fred Jackson at running back, and that CJ Spiller can contribute something this year. On defense they still have work to do to support first round pick Marcell Dareus on the defensive line and a young secondary with some talent. Linebacker Paul Posluszny is a free agent and rest of the position remains weak for the Bills.
The Jets have the talent and experience to win the division this year, even if they suffer losses in free agency. However, 11 wins wasn’t enough to get it done in 2010 so they are going to need to improve their divisional play and avoid any late season letdowns like they had last year.
New York Jets divisional match-ups in 2011
- Week 5 at New England
- Week 6 vs Miami (Monday night)
- Week 9 at Buffalo
- Week 10 vs New England (Sunday night)
- Week 12 at Buffalo
- Week 17 at Miami