1. New England Patriots
As long as Tom Brady keeps playing, count on them winning this division.
2. Buffalo Bills
Going in a different direction at QB could set them back, but that defense is still solid.
3. Miami Dolphins
A lot is riding on the health of QB Ryan Tannehill and their defense didn’t really improve.
4. New York Jets
The future will be in the hands of another USC standout at QB. Sam Darnold is not what Mark Sanchez was.
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Key Position: Defense
They were just awful thru their first four games last year. They gave up 33 points or more in each of those games and their record showed it (2-2). Belichick didn’t panic and adjusted, but they can’t have that happen again this year. Aside from their division, the rest of the conference is much improved.
Key Acquisitions: OL Trent Brown (San Francisco 49ers), DE Adrian Clayborn (Atlanta Falcons), RB Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati Bengals), CB Jason McCourty (Cleveland Browns), DL Danny Shelton (Cleveland Browns)
Key Rookies: RB Sony Michel, DB Duke Dawson
Head Coach: Sean McDermott
Key Position: Wide Receiver
Even when Buffalo decided to start Nathan Peterman over Tyrod Taylor for one game last season, it wasn’t Taylor’s fault he didn’t have anyone to throw to. A full season with Kelvin Benjamin should help both parties, but the jury is still out on him. Adding Jeremy Kerley helped put some influx of talent in this group with an already established tight end in Charles Clay.
Key Acquisitions: C Russell Bodine (Cincinnati Bengals), CB Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts), RB Chris Ivory (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Jeremy Kerley (New York Jets), DT Star Lotulelei (Carolina Panthers), DE Trent Murphy (Washington Redskins)
Key Rookies: QB Josh Allen, LB Tremaine Edmunds, DT Harrison Phillips
Head Coach: Adam Gase
Key Position: Secondary
Having only nine interceptions ins’t going to cut it in this division. With two teams potentially starting rookie quarterbacks this year, that stat should rise. Obviously not putting enough pressure on the quarterback doesn’t help either (30 sacks). However, this unit should be trending up with a year of experience under their belt.
Key Acquisitions: WR Danny Amendola (New England Patriots), RB Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts), C Daniel Kolgore (San Francisco 49ers), DE Robert Quinn (Los Angeles Rams), G Josh Sitton (Chicago Bears), WR Albert Wilson (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Rookies: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, TE Mike Gesicki, LB Jerome Baker
Head Coach: Todd Bowles
Key Position: Quarterback
They were actually a competitive team last year with Josh McCown as the starter. That is until he was hurt. Then the wheels fell off at the end. Still, a team that wasn’t supposed to come close to winning five games last year actually did just that. Enter Sam Darnold to be the face of this franchise and hopefully get them back to some respectability.
Key Acquisitions: RB Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland Browns), CB Trumaine Johnson (Los Angeles Rams), C Spencer Long (Washington Redskins), LB Avery Williamson (Tennessee Titans)
Key Rookies: QB Sam Darnold, DL Nathan Shepherd