1 – The Jets haven’t been better than .500 in the AFC East since the last time they made the playoffs in 2010. Needless to say, if they fancy themselves a legitimate playoff contender in 2019, they are going to need to break that streak because going 3-3 or worse is not going to give them enough wiggle room the rest of the way to reach 9 or 10 wins. Theoretically, this should be their best opportunity in a few years as you can make a reasonable case they are the second most talented team in the division and for the first time since 2014 they get New England twice in the first half of the year (week 3 and week 7).
Three of the four times the Jets have beat the Patriots this decade, the game has occurred in week 7 or earlier. The conventional wisdom is also that New England usually concentrates their handful of losses every year somewhat early in the season before they rev up and steamroll their way to another division title.
2 – Most people are looking at the 2019 Miami Dolphins the way people looked at the 2017 Jets. They are generally considered the worst team in the league, who is openly tanking and will ironically be picked by a few people to go 1-15 or 0-16. Similar to the 2017 Jets, they won’t be as bad as most people project them to be (while also not being good). Miami should find their way to 4-5 wins and will be a tough matchup for the Jets in both their games, in the same way the 2017 Jets were a tough matchup for Adam Gase’s Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick or Josh Rosen will be good for a few randomly big games, Kenyan Drake should be productive in a further expanded role and I tend to think Brian Flores will translate better into a Head Coach role than Matt Patricia has so far.
3 – New England remains comfortably the favorite in the division until proven otherwise. They have enough at the skill positions to execute their ever evolving offensive attack between Julian Edelman, James White, N’Keal Harry, Sony Michel, Philip Dorsett, Dontrelle Inman, etc, etc. More importantly, they have the best offensive line in the division and a quality front seven on defense that will be bolstered by the addition of Michael Bennett (for those fans who think Bennett is washed, he had 8.5 sacks in 2017 and 9.0 sacks in 2018).
4 – Jets and Bills fans can both make a credible argument they have the second best team in the division right now, although both teams are likely to settle somewhere between 7 and 9 wins. I’d give the Jets an edge because of Sam Darnold vs. Josh Allen and since Le’Veon Bell is prospectively the best overall offensive player on either roster. The coaching staffs of both teams are comparable, Buffalo has a slightly better and deeper offensive line, a more well rounded defense but the Jets skill position group should have a higher ceiling. It feels inevitable that the teams will split their two games but if either can manage a sweep, it will give one of them a much more credible path to competing for a wild card spot.
5 – Speaking of wild card competition. For the Jets and Bills, they’ll need to find a way to finish ahead of the other team and then need to battle with whoever doesn’t finish ahead between San Diego and Kansas City and/or Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and/or Houston and Indianapolis…and that doesn’t even factor in Tennessee or Jacksonville having a charge over .500. The AFC is jam packed between the potential 3rd-9th best team in the conference. This doesn’t seem like a year where anything but 10 wins is going to cut it for a playoff spot.
6 – One man’s offensive positional crowns in the division:
- QB – Tom Brady
- WR – Julian Edelman
- RB – Le’Veon Bell
- TE – Chris Herndon
- OL – Shaq Mason
7 – One man’s defensive positional crowns in the division
- DL – Michael Bennett
- ILB – CJ Mosley
- Edge – Jerry Hughes
- CB – Stephon Gilmore
- S – Jamal Adams
8 – Ranking of most likely AFC East rookies to win ROY award
- N’Keal Harry – The flashiest position with an All-Pro at QB
- Quinnen Williams – If Sheldon did it in 2013, so can he.
- Ed Oliver – Williams will probably be more consistent with Oliver having more flashy plays.
- Jachai Polite – May already be the best edge rusher on the Jets
- Cody Ford – Could quickly find his way into a starting role with Buffalo
9 – As it stands now, the biggest positional concern for the Jets is offensive line, namely center and cornerback. For Buffalo, it is offensive line and passing game (namely Josh Allen’s ability to throw accurately and their collection of pass catchers). For Miami, it is…surprise, surprise offensive line and depth across the defensive line. For New England, it is tight end and linebacker.
10 – As it stands now, the biggest strength for the Jets is their middle of their defense (DL, ILB, S) and running back, for Buffalo it is their front seven and running game, for Miami it is their secondary and for New England is their HC/QB combination and offensive line.
11 – A prospective offensive “sleeper” candidate on each roster: WR, Robert Foster (Buffalo), RB, Kalen Ballage (Miami), WR, Deontay Burnett, (Jets), WR Dontrelle Inman (Patriots).
12 – Record predictions as of July 7th, 2018. Subject to change:
- New England: 11-5
- Jets: 8-8
- Bills: 8-8
- Dolphins: 5-11