By Kyle Madson & Ronnie Hampston
At the top of each NFL season, some fans are brimming with confidence. Other fans are brimming with... the opposite of confidence. While nobody is certain about which teams will be good and which ones won't Ron Hampston and Kyle Madson provide the overly optimistic and overly pessimistic preview for each team.
OPTIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE AFC EAST
New England Patriots
Wouldn't it be hilarious if the Patriots won Super Bowl 51?
Spiting Roger Goodell after the Deflategate investigation will give the Patriots the urge to win it all. An angry Tom Brady coming off a four-game suspension will attempt to kick anyone's ass that gets in his way. I'm secretly rooting for it to happen, if only to see Goodell's stoic demeanor at the end of Super Bowl 51 while Brady and the Pats dance to the song of sweet revenge. -RH
New York Jets
Nearly fifty years ago, the Jets won a Super Bowl led by Joe Namath. Since then fans of the J-E-T-S have been filled with sorrow. However, the days of despair may be long gone.
With the AFC East being wide open, it'll give the Jets a chance to take charge of the division. Coming off a 10-6 year, the team is primed to take another step in a positive direction. Adding Matt Forte to the offense will take some pressure off Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the defense will continue to improve under top-flight defensive coaches Pepper Johnson, Kacy Rodgers and head coach Todd Bowles. -RH
In four trips to the Super Bowl in the early 1990s, the Bills infamously come up short. To avenge past losses, the Bills will look to finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy this season. The key factor in the Bills run to Super Bowl 51 is that Mark Rypien, Otis Anderson, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith won't be playing against them to derail their hopes of a victory. Also, the addition of Cardale Jones as a backup championship-winning quarterback will give them the good luck they needed 25 years ago to get over the hump. -RH
Adam Gase will look to bring his offensive genius to Dade County. With that said, it is expected that Ryan Tannehill, Arian Foster and Jarvis Landry will have standout seasons. A steady offense coupled with a solid defense, spearheaded by Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins will have a chance at winning the title as long as Ray Finkle isn't kicking the game-clinching field goal. -RH
PESSIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE AFC EAST
Last year, the Pats’ season ended at the hands of the corpse of Peyton Manning. That’s embarrassing. Combine that with the fact that Brady finally caved to the NFL in Deflategate, and that’s two rather large “Ls” for New England in less than a year.
At some point, New England’s window is going to slam shut, and it’s going to be glorious. They’ll be without Brady for the first four games, and he’ll undoubtedly be somewhat rusty when he gets back, which ensures a couple more losses.
They’re not going to be able to sleepwalk through their division, they play a tough NFC West and an even more difficult AFC North. It’s going to be a dogfight, and the Patriots aren’t going to be able to effortlessly hold their window open. An early playoff exit and questions about Brady’s future are on deck. In the immortal words of Bart Scott, “can’t wait!” -KM
The Jets have managed to prove that time is a flat circle, and life is an ultimately pointless exercise.
Remember the last time the Jets were good? They had a defensive-minded head coach, a stout defense, and a quarterback nobody thought was any good except for the Jets.
They’re at literally this exact point now, only this time the Jets don’t even think their quarterback is any good. If Mark Sanchez kicked the door down at MetLife Stadium, he would immediately be the best quarterback in the room. I’m not sure if you follow quarterbacks that closely, but that is a bad situation to be in, FYI.
They wound up overpaying 87-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick to derp his way to seven wins. I’m a 49ers fan and I don’t envy New York’s quarterback situation. -KM
There are a handful of teams in sports that just carry an allure of terrible. The Bills are one of them. Even when they were good and making it to four straight Super Bowls they couldn’t win.
Now they’ve got Rex Ryan coaching alongside Rob Ryan, and they may not score a lot of points or be able to stop anyone, but man will they shotgun a ton of beers and curse a lot in the locker room.
The Bills are going to stink. Their 8-8 record being considered a resounding success last year proves that this team and their fans are totally fine with mediocrity. The good news is that the more they suck, the more awesome sound bites we’ll get from the Ryan brothers. In that case, everybody wins...except the Bills. -KM
If it weren't for Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, I’d forget the Dolphins are a team.
The Dolphins have made so many free agency splashes (Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams, Arian Foster) in the last couple years, but nobody cares because it’s the Dolphins. It’s like watching a baby build a Lego set. They may make something that looks cool, but ultimately it’s still a baby that defecates on itself a couple of times a day.
New head coach Adam Gase is going to have that offense humming early on. They’ll score a bunch of points for six or eight weeks and then come careening back down to Earth to finish something like 7-9. The Dolphins will be everyone’s “surprise team” in Week 4. By Week 10, we’ll be back to forgetting they exist. -KM
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