As we sit at the midpoint of the 2013 NFL Season, it was not long ago when I was saying how, at the end of Week 4, the AFC East was the only Division in Football where all four teams are .500 or better…..
How times have quickly changed.
So let’s take a quick, highly biased look at where we have been and where we think we are going….
2013 Standing: 3-5 (4th Place)
2012 Standing through 8 games: 3-5 (4th Place)
What’s happened so far? After a promising 2-2 start (which I believe could have very easily been 4-0), the Bills have been on a 1-3 skid. Even though the Bills are starting Thad Lewis at Quarterback, they have still managed to put up the second highest amount of points in the division. So far they have had some fairly impressive victories against the defending Superbowl Champion Ravens and an impressive road victory against the Dolphins. Conversely they have had two horrible losses to the Jets and Browns.
What can we expect? Surprisingly, the Bills have put together a nice roster in an overall weak division. Inexperience at QB and at the Coaching level seems to be rearing its ugly head at inopportune moments. However, the Bills still have three division games left and, outside of the Saints game, have been competitive in every single one of their games. If this team can get a little healthier, they could play spoiler down the stretch for their division foes.
2012 Standing through 8 games: 4-4 (2nd Place)
What’s happened so far? The luster of the Off Season Championship trophy was shining bright as the Dolphins got off to an impressive 3-0 start….Then came Monday Night September 30th when the Saints took the 10 karat gold plating right off that Championship trophy. Since then, the Dolphins have yet to win a game and are currently on a 4 game slide. Even will all the money handed out during the off-season, the most important thing, improving the Offensive Line, was completely ignored by the organization. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league leading 32 times including being pumled by the Patriots 6 times in the second half of last Sunday’s game.
What can we expect? With “Redskin-like” spending spree over the offseason, the Dolphins were supposed to have closed the gap with the Patriots. For the 1st half of their game this past Sunday, it looked like there was going to be a changing of the guard in the AFC East. Unfortunately, there was a second half to play and by the end of the game, it looked as if the gap was wider than ever. This Dolphins team has shown some promise but it will only go as far as their Offensive Line’s ability to keep Tannehill upright. If Sunday was any indication, the next off-season spending spree cannot come fast enough.
New England Patriots:
2012 Standing through 8 games: 5-3 (1st Place)
What’s happened so far? With a little good fortune due to the schedule, some decent Defensive performances, and some timely touchdown drives, the Patriots have found themselves at 6-2. Certainly the Patriots Offense has felt the loss of their top 5 receivers from last year but it is debatable if the loss of Wes Welker is actually greater than the losses of Danny Woodhead, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski for a first part of the season. Defensively, the Patriots finally appeared to have an improved defense unit until the season ending injuries to Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo.
What can we expect? The reality is that this Patriots team still has the inside track to win the Division. However, if things continue on the path that they are on, it will be hard to imagine this team being any higher than the 4th seed in the AFC. With the mounting injuries, now on both sides of the ball, it is hard to imagine this team making it out of the Wildcard round let alone making a deep run into the playoffs.
New York Jets:
2012 Standing through 8 games: 3-5 (3rd Place)
What’s happened so far? Based on the 3 or 4 wins predictions that most people had for the Jets, this team has put together a very surprising 1st half of the season. The Defensive Line has played very well even though the Jets are near the bottom of the league in points allowed. Offensively, rookie Quarterback Geno Smith has shown brief flashes of competency. Unfortunately, his AFC leading 13 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles has not made him a clear-cut improvement over Mark Sanchez. The one thing the Jets have been consistent at this season is being inconsistent. At this point the Jets have yet to win or lose back to back games. The Jets’ signature win was barely beating a defensively depleted Patriots team by 3 points in overtime while playing at home. The Jets promptly followed up this big win by getting utterly blow out by the Bengals on the road.
What can we expect? With how inconsistent the Jets have been, it’s hard to tell what will happen. As easily as this team could win only 7 or 8 games, they could go on to win 9 or 10 and make a push for the playoffs. Geno Smith is the key in which path the Jets will ultimately take. Smith is on a pace to have 32 turnovers all on his own this year….Unless that area of his game improves dramatically, the Jets could consider themselves already on the clock.