Last season, the Patriots won the division with 12 wins before falling to the Broncos in the AFC championship game. New England has absolutely owned the AFC East, winning the division in each of the last seven consecutive years and 12 of the last 13 seasons.
The Patriots divisional competition is improving. The Jets posted 10 wins in a major rebound season under first-time head coach Todd Bowles last year. The Bills and Dolphins are also competitive with near .500 records over the last several seasons. But the Patriots remain the heavy favorites to represent the AFC East in the playoffs.
The Beatdown staff’s predictions are unanimous with New England at the top...
First Place : New England Patriots
With the Brady suspension that just means there is now only a 90 percent chance the Patriots win the division instead of a 100 percent chance. The Bills and Dolphins will have their opportunities in New England during Brady's suspension, but I still feel once Brady returns to that offense with a retuning Dion Lewis, the acquisitions of Martellus Bennett and Chris Hogan, to go along with Edelman and Gronkowski; the Pats offense will score a lot of points and they will take this division again. - Evan Mazza
It seems like every single year, people try to find reasons for why the Patriots won't win the AFC East. Even with the four-game suspension of Tom Brady being all but confirmed, I'm still refusing to take the bait. - Jacob Louque
While Brady gets most of the credit, HC Belichick, OC McDaniels and DC Patricia are the impetus for NE’s dominance. Their offensive system, focused on YAC and power rushing, is lead by the best TE in the game. The defensive should be fine without Chandler Jones. DEs Sheard and Ninkovich, along with LBs Collins and Hightower will put pressure on QBs. The secondary is also strong with FS McCourty and former UDFA CB Butler, who they coached up into a very good player. Expect more of the same in the AFC East next season. - Vasilis Lericos
Second Place : Buffalo Bills
Tyrod Taylor will continue to progress from his stellar season last year. Sammy Watkins looks ready to break out. LeSean McCoy is still a beast, and after his four-game suspension, Karlos Williams returns, to form the best rushing unit in the division. Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland are fantastic adds on the defense that make the unit very scary. - Matt Cohen
The Bills have a reasonable shot at a wildcard bid. A underrated offensive line is the strength of the offense, along with WR Watkins. Rex Ryan’s defensive personnel is what puts them above MIA and NYJ. Marcell Dareus at NT with Ragland cleaning up behind him should make them tough to run on, and the CB pairing of Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby might be the second best tandem in the NFL. - Vasilis Lericos
Well that was quick. After one season in which the Bills went 8-8 and swept the Jets out of the playoffs, Rex Ryan is already on the hot seat. Rex came in as he usually does, with a dynamic entrance and media praise, spouting promises of the playoffs and a top rated defense. None of that happened. The Bills defense was ranked 19th which is very unusual for a Ryan defense. Tyrod Taylor showed promise, but struggled from the pocket which has forced management to wait and see on an extension for the former Raven. Count me out on the Tyrod Taylor train. Rex Ryan will probably have to go back to being a defensive coordinator after the 2016 season. - Evan Mazza
Third Place : New York Jets
The Jets currently have a quarterback room that somewhat resembles a point and laugh freak show that has long since been outlawed. Still, there's time for them to bring Ryan Fitzpatrick back into the fold. Even without him, I believe the Jets are a good enough team to win eight games or so. - Jacob Louque
Todd Bowles emerged as one of the better coaches in the league last season, but the Jets roster is getting old. CB Darrelle Revis, C Mangold and ILB Harris are on the downsides of their careers while WR's inMarshall and Decker remain consistent offensive threats. The Jets ridiculously talented DL, featuring Muhammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams, could help them overcome the other deficiencies to earn a playoff spot. - Vasilis Lericos
If the Jets swallow their pride and re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, I will slide them above the Bills. Until that happens, the offense does not have a good answer at quarterback. They have a great offense around the quarterback however with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Matt Forte. Everyone knows how good the defensive line is. Opposing receivers will get a trip to Revis Island. - Matt Cohen
Fourth Place : Miami Dolphins
This is a make or break year for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who now enters his fifth year in the NFL. He will have some good weapons like Jarvis Landry, DaVante Parker and the recently signed Arian Foster. The Dolphins are taking a major chance on Foster, hoping he can stay healthy and compliment the young Jay Ajayi. Defensively, if Mario Williams can rekindle his Pro-Bowl form, he will complete a strong line, along with Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh. Theres a lot of work to be done in South Beach and rookie head coach Adam Gase has his hands full. - Evan Mazza
I still have some faith in Ryan Tannehill. A full season with Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker will help develop the offense. It remains to be seen whether Jay Ajayi is ready to be a bell cow back in just his second year. The Dolphins did sign Arian Foster, but I’m predicting Ajayi will still start. The defense is not very good. Cameron Wake is their best player, but he is aging quickly. The losses of Olivier Vernon and Brent Grimes will sting. - Matt Cohen
There are many who are higher on the Dolphins than I am, and that is understandable. Adam Gase is a promising coach, but I'm getting a bit tired of hearing about how Ryan Tannehill is about to make the leap to the next level now that he's five years into his career. - Jacob Louque