Division Winner: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots head into the 2015 regular season with a few missing pieces of the roster that won Super Bowl XLIX. Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis decided to return to the place where it all started when he signed with the New York Jets. Along with Revis’s departure, fellow cornerback Brandon Browner signed with the New Orleans Saints, followed by Vince Wilfork joining the Houston Texans. Those are key loses to the Patriots roster on defense, however; I believe they have enough firepower to weather the storm. They still have players such as Devin McCourty, Chandler Jones, and Patrick Chung that will still make this defense very difficult to score points on in 2015.
The Patriots may struggle a little when they start the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, followed by the Buffalo Bills. By the time Tom Brady returns from his possible four-game suspension, I believe that the Patriots will be contenders in the AFC once again. My 2015 prediction for the New England Patriots is that they will win the AFC East and contend for their sixth Super Bowl championship.
In the off-season the Miami Dolphins showed that they are committed to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, when they signed him to a $96 million dollar contract extension. Now Tannehill has to go out and prove that he is worth receiving that kind of money. During the 2015 free agency period, the Dolphins went out and signed players that can complement Tannehill on offense. They picked up tight end Jordan Cameron, acquired wide receiver Kenny Stills from the Saints for Dannell Ellerbe and a 2015 third-round draft pick. Those additions along with second year wide receiver Jarvis Landry, should transform the Dolphins into a productive offense in 2015.
We all know that in order to defeat the Patriots you have to apply pressure to quarterback Tom Brady. The Dolphins signed Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to help bolster the Dolphins pass rush. This ball club has been on the cusp of a playoff berth for the last three seasons. However, they do not show up to play in the games that matter the most. The Dolphins must not make that mistake going into this season. My 2015 prediction for the Miami Dolphins is that they will indeed lock up at least the 5th seed in the AFC playoff race. I also predict that if the Dolphins are at least 1-6 at the beginning of the season, “Black Monday” could come early for head coach Joe Philbin.
As of right now, head coach Rex Ryan has named Matt Cassell as the Bills starting quarterback. However, things can change within weeks if Cassell’s performance in preseason games is not up to par. Cassell is currently competing with quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor, for the opening day starter going into 2015. The Buffalo Bills must address this issue before the season starts. This team has a roster that is capable of contending for a Super Bowl title. The only piece that is missing is a proven winner at the quarterback position. Regardless of who starts for the Bills, I believe Rex Ryan will revert back to what got him into two consecutive AFC championship game appearances.
In 2009, Rex’s old team the New York Jets ran the football consistently and managed to stop opposing offenses with their vaunted defense. My prediction for the Buffalo Bills is that they will compete for a wild card spot in 2015. If the Bills fail to make the postseason once again, they’d better start looking for a viable option at the quarterback position. Whether it’s via free agency or the draft, this team must get out of “quarterback purgatory.”
The New York Jets have some new faces in key positions going into 2015. They replaced Rex Ryan with new head coach Todd Bowles. Along with bringing in Bowles, the Jets also hired a new general manager in Mike Maccgnan. The Jets finally went out and got quarterback Geno Smith, a viable number one wide receiver, in Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears. Like the Bills, the Jets also have issues at the quarterback position.
Geno Smith is the starting quarterback for the New York Jets, however; he’s on a short leash. I honestly believe that if Geno starts off on the wrong foot at the beginning of the season, we will indeed see rookie quarterback Bryce Petty out of the University of Baylor. Geno Smith must show Todd Bowles that he is the leader of the Jets’ offense. If not, he could possibly be on his way out of New York at the end of the season. My 2015 prediction for the New York Jets is that they could possibly contend for a playoff spot, however; it will solely depend on the arm of Geno Smith
Quick Update: Geno Smith will be out 6-10 weeks with a broken jaw caused by a locker room fight.
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