The New England Patriots enter the season as heavy favorites to reclaim the AFC East, having won the past nine division titles. While the Patriots' run of success is likely to continue, questions remain for the other three teams in the division. Can the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills make noise in 2018? Here is a preview of the AFC East:
The Patriots will win their 10th straight division title, as they own the East—at least until Bill Belichick and/or Tom Brady retires.
The Patriots are noticeably thin at wide receiver—especially in the wake of Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension—putting the onus on All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowksi and wideout Chris Hogan to shine in the passing game.
The Jets have exceeded expectations under Todd Bowles in two of his three seasons as head coach. They won 10 games in 2015 behind then-quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and last season managed to win five games despite some experts predicting them to finish winless.
Sam Darnold could be the face of Jets franchise for years to come. — by Julio Cortez/AP
Outperforming the projections of most in what was a rebuilding year, Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan received contract extensions at the end of last season.
Rookie Sam Darnold has the chance to be a franchise quarterback for New York. The third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft impressed in the preseason and beat out Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater (traded at the end of the preseason to the New Orleans Saints) to claim the starting job.
The Jets feature a dynamic young secondary spearheaded by the second-year safety duo Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.
The lack of a pass rush is the team's kryptonite and ultimately holds them back from reaching the postseason for the first time since 2010.
Ryan Tannehill returns for Miami after missing all of last season—and while a return to the playoffs is possible for a club that earned a Wild-Card spot in 2016—the offense may hold them back as they adjust to life without superstar wide receiver Jarvis Landry.
The Dolphins will rely on their deep running back rotation—Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage—to carry the load on offense.
The strength of the Dolphins' lies in their defensive line, headlined by Cameron Wake and new addition Robert Quinn—the former first-round pick who was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason.
Despite making the playoffs last season, the Bills are quietly in rebuild-mode.
Nathan Peterman begins the year as the starting quarterback, though rookie Josh Allen is expected to eventually take over. No matter who is under center, Buffalo will be woeful on offense after losing three starting linemen from last season (left tackle Cordy Glenn, left guard Richie Incognito and center Eric Wood) on a roster that lacks playmakers outside of LeSean McCoy.