Last season the Patriots were supposed to collapse, again, and instead they won the Superbowl. The Dolphins finished 7-9 among a slew of injuries and as a result, they fired their head coach. The Bills went 6-10, but finished 4-3 over the final seven games behind Josh Allen’s rushing ability. Finally, the Jets drafted Sam Darnold, signed a bunch of free agents and still managed to finish last in the division. Leading them to another top-3 draft pick this past NFL Draft.
New England Patriots, 1st AFC East
Team MVP: Tom Brady, Quarterback
Brady continues to be the driving force for getting this team to the Superbowl; even at 42 years old. Until someone else become more valuable, Brady is it.
Breakout Player: Isaiah Wynn, Left Tackle
Wynn is the new starting left tackle in New England. And he has all the right tools to fill the void. He spent last season injured. However, he demonstrated his physical tools that are needed to play the position before going down. Additionally, with an excellent group beside him, he has everything he needs to star as the protector of Brady’s blindside.
Season outlook: The Patriots will go as Tom Brady goes. Even with the greatest coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick, the Patriots will need Brady retian his dominance. As usual, this team looks primed for another AFC East run. Even after losing key players like Trent Brown and Trey Flowers to free agency. Belichick will be his usual self and find guys to fill voids. Brady will continue thriving with the short passing game and lead New England to yet another playoff run from the from of the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills, 2nd AFC East
Team MVP: Tre’Davious White, Cornerback
Without a doubt, White has quickly become Buffalo’s number one cornerback. He has been fantastic through his first two NFL seasons. Expectations have been put on White to not only continue that trend, but to take his talent to another level. Look for White to rise to the challenge and lead this Bills’ defensive unit.
Breakout Player: Trumaine Edwards, Linebacker
“In Weeks 1-8, Edmunds had an overall grade of just 47.1, but that jumped to 70.5 over the last eight games of the season,” wrote PFF’s Ben Linsey.
“He especially improved in coverage; Edmunds improved his passer rating when targeted mark from 111.5 in the first half of the season to 68.7 over the second half of the season. That late improvement gives a reason for optimism heading into next year.”Pro Football Focus – Ben Linsey
Season outlook: The Bills spent the offseason improving weaknesses. They added Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, and Spencer Long while also drafting Cody Ford to help improve a once terrible offensive line. They also added depth to the tight end and wide receiver groups. Along with adding Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon, and rookie Devin Singletary to strengthen the backfield. All of this was to surround young flamethrower Josh Allen with a stronger supporting cast. Buffalo is a team that could go 9-7, or just as quickly revert to 5-11. All depending on their enigmatic young quarterback. For now, 9-7 is a fair expectation.
New York Jets, 3rd AFC East
Team MVP: Le’Veon Bell, Running Back
When not disputing his contract and missing games, Bell is one of the five best backs in the NFL. His ability to run and catch the ball out of the backfield at an elite level should allow him to be the focal point of the Jets offense. Hard to match Bell’s opportunity to succeed along with his talents.
Breakout Player: Sam Darnold, Quarterback
Darnold showed signs at the end of last season that great years are ahead. With some new weapons in place and offensive-minded Adam Gase at the helm, Darnold should jump into the upper half of NFL quarterbacks.
Season outlook: The Jets spent huge money to bring in Bell, CJ Mosely, and Jamison Crowder this past offseason. The Jets made these moves in hopes of taking this team to the next level, while also supporting their young franchise quarterback. While these moves will improve the team, I believe they are still a year away from a breakout season.
Miami Dolphins, 4th AFC East
Team MVP: Xavien Howard, Cornerback
Honestly, this comes down to the best player on a bad team. Howard has the size and speed to cover any receiver in the league. Expect another strong season out of the corner from Baylor, making him the natural choice for team MVP.
Breakout Player: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety
Minkah continued to be a jack of all trades for the Dolphins in 2018. Spending time playing nickel, safety, and outside corner just as he did at Alabama. With the way his rookie season went, it is fair to expect a breakout campaign. With Minkah and Howard, the Dolphins have solid building blocks for future success on the defensive side of the ball.
Season outlook: The Dolphins are rebuilding from the ground up. Brian Flores and Chris Grier, while openly stating no tanking, are building for the future. Further proof of the rebuild, they moved Ryan Tannehill to the Titans, signed veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and dealt for Arizona’s first-round selection from 2018, Josh Rosen. These moves show a team in transition, and their eventual 2019 losing record will reflect that.