Welcome to After the Whistle’s annual preview of the NFL. A quick note: I like to post my previews between week 1-2 of the season, as it rises above all the other, more famous sites that post theirs weeks before. On that note, on to the AFC East!
Let’s start this easy and examine two teams. In the last 11 games of the 2016 season, Team A rushed for 132.9 yards per game, 20 more than Team B. Team A allowed the third fewest sacks in the league, while Team B was 12th. Team A also had the third best turnover differential in football.
Team A is the Miami Dolphins.
Team B is the champion New England Patriots.
Surprised? The Dolphins were sneaky good last year. They made the playoffs in a loaded conference behind running back Jay Ajayi’s three 200+ yard games. The Patriots have only won in Miami once since 2012, and this Dolphins team is loaded. Jarvis Landry headlines a star-studded receiving corps, Ajayi is still around, Cameron Wake leads the D-line, and Reshad Jones stars in one of the best secondaries in football.
It won’t be enough. New England won the Super Bowl last year, and got better. The additions of Stephon Gilmore and Mike Gillislee add nice depth at corner and tailback, respectively. Brandin Cooks gives Tom Brady a tantalizing deep ball target, and they didn’t lose anybody! The Patriots should win the division, and they and Miami should mop the floor with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
This year is going to be a blast. Part II of ATW’s NFL preview will be out later today!