The Patriots have dominated the division for MORE than a decade (so far), but who could threaten to steal the reigning champ’s crown? Buffalo looks to be a threat again after years of Futility. The Jets could go 12-4 or 4-12. The Dolphins turn to Tannehill era for help.
At some point in life, you appreciate the little things.
Its precisely why the phrase “Free T-shirt” is routinely met with smiling faces at bars, softball games, and lame team building events at work. If it’s a T-shirt with some substance (like a “French Lick, Ind. – Home of Larry Bird’ cartoon T i saw on the train this morning), its a walking, talking story that you can wear on your chest every weekend.
But there are T-shirts out there that are met wiht sheer indifference. An example: one that reads “New England Patriots, AFC East Champions.”
The patriots have dominated the division over the past 11 years. YUP. The last time the Pats DIDN’T win the AFC east, I was still in highschool. Thats INSANE. They have dominated over the past years so much that there is ALWAYS a bottle of non-New Years champagne popped around New England in early January.
Are we lucky around here? You bet.
Has all the winning made us numb? Most definitely.
But just remember, there are three other fan bases out there that would proudly wear an “AFC Ease Champions” T-Shirt. Here they are , with their chances of taking the division crown away from New England (though, I highly doubt many of them have the gumption or testicular fortitude to get the better of the Brady/Belichick era.)
Division Threat (scale 1-10): 7
They released Shawne Merriman the other day. Make no mistake: That’s a good thing.
Mario Williams is now the leader on “D” and their defensive line is now “Giants-esque,” which should give patriots fans a pause. People forget that the main thing that sunk Buffalo’s 2011 season after a hot start was injuries. Can Ryan Fitzpatrick bring down his interception total? Probably not, but hey… shit happens, right?
New York Jets (Why you ask? I know, i can’t believe i’m considering them)
Division Threat: 4
Beyone Tebow/Sanchez, the Jets have issues. Running back Shonn Greene hasn’t lived up to his potential, and the defense allowed 22.7 points per game last season. In other words, New York’s defense was vastly overrated last year. The secondary remains one of the best in the game, however, and the addition of LaRon Landry will make that group down right scary to Brady fans. Its do-or-die time for the slimmed-down Rex Ryan. It will be tough throwing the ball around the Jets, but who’s to say teams with good running game can’t snuff them out of the hunt.
Miami Dolphins (Laces out, Marino. Finkle Einhorn is on the loose)
Division Threat: 3
Remember 2008? Dolphin fans certainly do. That was the year they entered the season with the lowest of expectations and then somehow came away with a division crown at the end of the year. Yes, their defense has been getting destroyed by other teams this preseason and they are relying heavily on a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill… but you never, ever know in this league. I’ve been watching Hard Knocks on HBO this year, and it focuses on the Miami Dolphins, and I would by lying if I didn’t tell you I was impressed, and somewhat jealous of some of the talent that they have on their squad. Tannehille reminds me of a young Brady. Long arm, pinpoint accuracy, but he needs time to develop. Will he pull off a Cam Newton rookie year? Most likely not, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m concerned by them.
Three things to remember in the next preseason games:
1) SUCK IT UP: The Pats just played a game Monday night, but before they could blink an eye they were on their way to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers hosted a joint practice with the Pats on Thursday and they’ll host one more Friday before the two teams play Friday night.
Will this affect their game together? Does it matter? We’ll find out tonight.
2) HELP, PLEASE!: Sebastian Vollmer is now off the PUP list and practicing, but he may not play. The team is awaiting Brian Waters in camp, which can’t come soon enough. Wouldn’t it be nice if Matt Light walked in? Yes, but he wont, and without Vollmer to replace him, Brady’s blindside might continue to be an issue.
Will The Pat’s O-line finally stop the flooding of our opponents at Brady? I surely hope so. If we need anything this year, its for the O-line to give brady an extra 1 or two seconds per play. Its a lot to ask, but something that will yield HUGE rewards, and game-winning plays.
3) KEEP AND EYE ON, SON!: Neither Stevan Ridley nor Shane Vereen did much of anything against Philly. While it appears Ridley still has an edge over Vereen at RB, there’s enough camp left for it to go either way. Cornerback has become a deep position on the Pats. Between Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Sterling Moore, and Alfonzo Dennard, there’s a long of corners to go around.
We still have no solid running game – but with Brady, who needs it? I personally think the Pats should use Jeff Demps (Silver Medal Sprinting Olympian) for more then just special teams and give him a fair share of the workload. Special teams can be dangerous. Did you see Marc Mariani break his leg in last nights game? Look it up if you must, but I almost lost my lunch when his leg was almost completely detached from the rest of his body. I bet Jeff Demps second though his special-teams contract when he saw that guy’s leg twist around like a wire pipe-cleaner. But hell, screw the running game… what we really need are strong corner-backs to get the Pat’s the ball back, and with a pass-defense that stacked, (and given time to develop) its almost a sure thing that we could give the Jet’s a run for their money in interceptions. When it comes down to it, we will have to wait until we get are entire starting squad on the field in game 1 to see where the rubber meets the road.
Statistics, history, and other information provided by:
ESPN.Com, Boston Metro, The Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, Patriots.com, NFL.com