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Division To Look Out For: AFC East

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We are right around that time in the NFL calendar year that most fans can begin to regain their excitement for the upcoming season. Free Agency talks and potential trade rumors have begun and it seems that we are in for another exciting offseason in the NFL. A division that is continuing to make a name for itself this offseason is the AFC East. After another Lombardi trophy has been hoisted by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, it seems as if it has sparked a fire within the front offices of the remaining AFC East teams.

One of the biggest names on the Free Agent market this offseason, DT Ndamukong Suh, looks like he is heading to South Beach to join the Miami Dolphins. ESPN has reported a potential $114 million dollar deal with $60 million guaranteed. This deal would make Suh the highest paid defensive player in the NFL, and well deserved for that matter. Ndamukong Suh would make an instant impact on the Miami Dolphins defensive line with his tough, gritty style of play. Lining Suh alongside Pro Bowl DE Cameron Wake is a picture that offensive lineman throughout the league will see in their nightmares. The Miami Dolphins came out of last season ranked 24th against the run, but a Ndamukong Suh signing can fix many of Miami’s defensive problems to help out an already stout defense. In the upcoming NFL season look for a drastic improvement in Miami’s run defense numbers, and look for the Dolphins to finish near the top in Total Sacks.

Another move that had NFL fans in a frenzy earlier this week was a trade that will send RB LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for LB Kiko Alonso. The deal is reportedly a 5 year deal worth $40 million, with $26.5 million guaranteed money. After a disappointing year for RB C.J. Spiller, the Buffalo Bills have decided to move on, after Spiller missed most of the 2014 season with a broken collarbone. Even after a slow start to the season for LeSean McCoy, he finished the season strong and continued his trend of putting up elite numbers, as he finished 3rd in the NFL with 1,319 rushing yards. The addition of this dynamic back in the Buffalo backfield alongside NFL veteran RB Fred Jackson will open up a Bills offense that ranked 26th in the NFL last season. With the recent addition of QB Matt Cassel from the Minnesota Vikings, the Bills look for an interesting quarterback battle between Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel heading into next season. With a very talented, young receiving core in Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins, the Buffalo Bills are a serviceable quarterback away from being a serious contender for a playoff position in the 2015 season.

After a very disappointing season for the New York Jets, and the firing of the outspoken HC Rex Ryan, the Jets were looking to make a big move in the offseason, and they got it. 5 time Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall has a new home in East Rutherford, New Jersey, as he looks to help a New York Jets offense that ranked #22 in the NFL last season. Marshall, who played 13 games last season for the Chicago Bears put up his worst numbers in receptions and total yards since his NFL debut season in 2006. It was obvious that Marshall was pushing for a departure from Chicago, and the AFC East now has one of the NFL’s most prolific wideouts to worry about. A big reason for the New York Jets struggles last season came because of instability at the quarterback position. Rumors have flurried that the Jets have shown interest in former Browns QB Brian Hoyer and QB Ryan Mallett from the Houston Texans. We are expected to see the Jets make a move to bring in a quarterback that will give QB Geno Smith a run for the starting job. Although we may not see the numbers that we are used when we think about Brandon Marshall this upcoming season, the departure of Percy Harvin from the Jets may help, as it leaves the #1 roster spot open for Marshall to take.

One thing that we do know for sure is that as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are a tandem in New England, the dynasty will continue for the New England Patriots. Coming off of his 4th Super Bowl victory, Tom Brady is showing no signs of calling it quits just yet. Belichick, with his dry, dull personality, has showed an ability to find impact players without the big name on the back, and develops relationships with his players that most people can’t comprehend.

Speaking of big names, there have been rumors around the league that Darrelle Revis, a standout cornerback in the NFL, could be staying in the AFC East, but not necessarily with the New England Patriots. Rumors are brewing that Revis is contemplating a return to New York to join the Jets. Regardless if Revis stays in New England or not, expect the Patriots to be a force in the playoffs once again.

The domination of the Patriots in the AFC East has seemed to be the story for quite some time, but expect to be surprised in the final standings in the 2015 season. This division has already gotten tougher early in the offseason, and we can expect more moves to be made. This tough, hard-nosed division has gotten even tougher. Expect to see some action packed contests between these division rivals in the years to come.

-Follow me on Twitter @SportsMeccaBran

-Brandon Belluardo

 

Photo Credit: http://prod.static.patriots.clubs.nfl.com/assets/images/2014/710×380-thumbs/710×380-2014afc-east-capsules.jpg

 

 

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