Let’s run down the three divisional rivals that Miami is going to be taking on twice each this season and also what impact it has on the Dolphins making the playoffs. Let’s start with Buffalo and the Jets before we stare in amazement at the New England Patriots.
The offense is certainly going to be a force with the addition of Terrell Owens which pushes Lee Evans into the WR2 slot which should free him up most of the time.
The Bills drafted Shawn Nelson to fill the void left by Robert Royal who took off for Cleveland. Nelson will enter camp as the starter.
When you look at the Bills you will see a pretty strong running game. Marshawn Lynch is one of the better young running backs in the league but he is facing a suspension of possibly three games to start the season.
The Bills still have Fred Jackson, and also went out and signed Dominic Rhodes, so they will be fine on the ground until Lynch returns.
The offensive line is pretty bad though and their starting Left Tackle, Jason Peters, flew the coop for Philly, so even with all this talent they will not be able to operate as freely as they like.
Trent Edwards is not a top 10 QB by any means. He had problems staying healthy at Stanford and if he misses anytime the Bills only have Ryan Fitzpatrick to turn to.
The Bills’ defense is not a world beater by any stretch. In fact, I would likely rank them 4th in this division. I could name off a bunch of starters but outside of Marcus Stroud and Donte Whitner, I doubt most are very familiar with them and there’s a good reason for that.
Miami has to sweep the Bills to have a chance at the playoffs. So let’s say 2-0 for the 'Phins.
New York “Stinkin” Jets
The Jets on offense are a complete mess. Gone is Coles, and Cotchery will be exposed as a second fiddle and not a true No. 1 WR. Dustin Keller is the next best option at TE.
New York moved up to grab Mark Sanchez. He is not ready to carry a team and it has been well documented that he struggled during the mini camps. Lots of picks in store for the Miami DBs.
The Jets running game includes Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, and rookie Shonn Greene but the lack of punch in the passing game will allow opposing teams to stack the box. And rest assured that defensive minded Rex Ryan will be running the ball as much as possible.
The strength of the team to me is the defense. Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins will fortify the defensive line as the Jets play a 3-4 scheme.
They drafted Vernon Gholston last year who Rex Ryan will develop further this season. Bart Scott rolls over from the Ravens along with Jim Leonhard who is playing Strong Safety.
It will be tough but I believe Miami will get at least a split if not a sweep because of the struggling offense for the Jets.
The Pats are just simply deadly. Brady is back and already participating in OTAs. He has Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Joey Galloway at his disposal.
Fred Taylor was brought in to team up with Sammy Morris, Laurence Maroney, and Kevin Faulk. Age is a concern as most of these guys are north of 30, but for this season and collectively they form a deadly punch.
On defense the Pats have the Defensive line that Miami dreams of. Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour, and Ty Warren anchor one of the best 3-4 DLs in all of football.
Bruschi is long in the tooth at ILB but he has Jared Mayo to lean on.
The secondary can definitely be exposed but what does Miamihave to expose them with? I believe this will be the only thing that keeps the Patriots from running up 14 or 15 wins again.
Miami has to get a split here in order to make the playoffs Either hold serve at home or pull off a road win. I’ll be optimistic and say they can produce a split.
So overall Miami will have to go at least 4-2 if not 5-1 in their division in order to have a serious chance to make the playoffs as a wildcard because I don’t see how New England doesn't win 11 or 12 games even with a shaky secondary because their offense is bombs away.
This is a quick look at the AFC East. Let’s re-examine this later in the summer after we see a few camps.