The AFC East division is home to some of the most historic franchises in the NFL. For the entirety of the league, the teams of this particular division have constantly been in the conversation of winning championships. From Joe Namath to the undefeated 1972 Dolphins to four consecutive Super Bowls by the Bills, this division expects nothing but greatness.
A new challenger has stepped up over the past two decades. The New England Patriots have become a synonym for winning. The arm of Tom Brady has propelled the Patriots to seven Super Bowls and has won five of them.The Patriots enter the 2017 season as favorites to win it all again. Is any other AFC East team on the verge of overthrowing the Patriot dynasty?
The Miami Dolphins
Right now, the Miami Dolphins seem to be the team closest to challenging the Patriots. When Brady was injured in 2008, the Dolphins took advantage and claimed the AFC East title. The Dolphins suffered a great step back when Ryan Tannehill went down with an ACL injury before the start of preseason. They have a great young running back in Jay Ajaya and young weapons for the quarterback to throw to. On paper, the defense sounds solid but will have to step up if they plan on stopping Brady. The Dolphins will have to work hard to catch the Patriots and stay ahead of the Bills and Jets.
The New York Jets
The immediate future does not look well for the Jets. No names really stand out on their roster. The Jets came into training camp without a definitive answer at quarterback. It is no secret this team is in a hardcore rebuilding phase. The Jets seem to have the toughest climb of AFC East teams trying to catch the Patriots. The organization will have to be on the mark with their drafting and training from here on out. If not, they will join the Browns as a consistently disappointing team.
The Buffalo Bills
The Bills continue to make the trend upward. If the Dolphins are a team where things went right at the right moment, then the Bills are a team where things went wrong at the wrong time. The Bills lost five games last season that was decided by seven points or less. Winning or losing these games could mean the difference between the going to the playoffs or going home. Tyrod Taylor has done a solid job leading the offense, throwing for over 3,000 yards the past two seasons. Running back LeSean McCoy is the obvious star on the offense. If the Bills can continue this trend, then they may be able to strike at the Patriots in the future.
Regardless of how optimistic you are of your favorite AFC East team, the Patriots are still the clear favorite to win. It is scary to believe the Patriots have gotten better this offseason. Bill Belichick has a knack for recruiting amazing players and Brady shows no signs of slowing down. Right now, the gap may be slowly widening. However, if the other teams play their cards right, they may be able to claim a wild card spot and challenge the Patriots in the playoffs. As the Patriots know very well, all it takes is one play.