1. New England Patriots
Tom Brady will be 37 this season and the division is improving. Time for another title run.
2. New York Jets
If last year wasn’t a make or break season, 2014 certainly is.
3. Miami Dolphins
Bullying, a lackluster offense were just two issues that should be resolved this year.
4. Buffalo Bills
With improvement at QB the Bills could be sneaky good.
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Key Position: Secondary – Even with Aqib Talib last year it was an average unit. They were able to create turnovers and rush the passer, but they were prone to the big play. Plus being thoroughly outmatched against the Broncos in the AFC Championship game didn’t help their cause. Now with Revis and Browner – who will be suspended for the first 4 games – the Patriots defensive backs will have a duo who won’t need help in one on one situations.
Key Acquisitions: CB Brandon Browner (Seattle Seahawks), WR Brandon LaFell (Carolina Panthers), CB Darrelle Revis (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), DE Will Smith (New Orleans Saints)
Key Rookies: DL Dominique Easley, RB James White
Head Coach: Rex Ryan
Key Position: Quarterback – Whether it’s Geno Smith or Michael Vick, the Jets need a consistent performance from the QB position. The protection is solid. The running backs and receivers are better than last year. There are no excuses this year with a defense that should be amongst the best in the league. The 31st ranked passing offense last year must get better this year.
Key Acquisitions: WR Eric Decker (Denver Broncos), WR Jacoby Ford (Oakland Raiders), T Breno Giacomini (Seattle Seahawks), RB Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans), CB Dimitri Patterson (Miami Dolphins), QB Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles)
Key Rookies: S Calvin Pryor, TE Jace Amaro
Head Coach: Joe Philbin
Key Position: Offensive Line – I can’t put all the blame on QB Ryan Tannehill for the offensive struggles last year. He was sacked a league high 58 times and still threw 24 touchdown passes and almost 4,000 yards passing. There are four new starters projected for the Dolphins offensive line this year and none bigger than Branden Albert who Miami tried to acquire in a trade before the 2013 season from Kansas City. His signing hopefully means that sack number goes down dramatically for 2014.
Key Acquisitions: T Branden Albert (Kansas City Chiefs), G Daryn Colledge (Arizona Cardinals), S Louis Delmas (Detroit Lions), CB Cortland Finnegan (St. Louis Rams), T Jason Fox (Detroit Lions), DT Earl Mitchell (Houston Texans), RB Knowshon Moreno (Denver Broncos), G Shelley Smith (St. Louis Rams)
Key Rookies: T Ja’Wuan James, WR Jarvis Landry
Head Coach: Doug Marrone
Key Position: Quarterback – It is quite unfair but the pressure is certainly mounting on E.J. Manuel in only his second season. No one expected an immediate transformation, but there were promising signs last season when Manuel did play (missed 6 games). Now with rookie WR Sammy Watkins on board with a cast that includes a solid running back combo in C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. Fellow receiver Robert Woods will be given an expanded role after a solid rookie year. The talent is here and Manuel has to make something of it.
Key Acquisitions: RB Bryce Brown (Philadelphia Eagles), RB Anthony Dixon (San Francisco 49ers), CB Corey Graham (Baltimore Ravens), LB Keith Rivers (New York Giants), LB Brandon Spikes (New England Patriots), G Chris Williams (St. Louis Rams), WR Mike Williams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Key Rookies: WR Sammy Watkins, T Cyrus Kouandjio, LB Preston Brown