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AFC DIVISIONAL PREVIEW

East

September 01, 2007|Sam Farmer

2007 predicted order of finish . . . .

* 1. New England: The rich get richer, and the Patriots just seem to get better every season. The addition of receivers Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth gives Tom Brady two of the fastest receivers in football -- although Moss has been hampered by a hamstring injury -- and Wes Welker is an outstanding third option. New England's defense gets a huge boost from the acquisition of linebacker Adalius Thomas, who more than salves the sting over the departures of linebackers Don Davis and Junior Seau. In short, the Patriots could be in line for another Super Bowl title -- their fourth in seven years.

* 2. New York Jets: Led by Coach Eric "Mangenius" Mangini, the Jets are putting the pieces in place to not only challenge the Patriots for dominance in the division but also to make a serious run in the playoffs. It looks as though quarterback Chad Pennington will get a chance to call some of his plays this season -- a byproduct of his growing comfort with coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's offense. Getting running back Thomas Jones from the Bears was big; he and Leon Washington form a nice one-two punch. Besides the Jones signing, the Jets didn't do a lot in free agency. They did, however, pick up two defensive ends -- David Bowens and Kenyon Coleman -- who could help ramp up the pass rush.

* 3. Buffalo: The Bills will find out early just how good they are -- their first five games are against Denver, Pittsburgh, New England, the Jets and Dallas. There are some trouble spots -- linebacker comes to mind after losing London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes -- but there are things to like about Buffalo too. Rookie running back Marshawn Lynch could help pick up the slack for the loss of Willis McGahee, and quarterback J.P. Losman stepped up in a big way last season. His completion rate jumped from 49.5% in 2005 -- worst among all NFL starters -- to 62.5% last season.

* 4. Miami: Cam Cameron did a great job with San Diego's offense, and now he gets a chance to prove he's as good a head coach as he was a coordinator. It looks as if Trent Green will be the starting quarterback, but the offensive line is very much in flux. Ronnie Brown, coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season, still needs to prove he was a worthy No. 2 overall pick. And the Dolphins' defense is getting pretty old, with mainstays Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Joey Porter, Keith Traylor and Vonnie Holliday all in their 30s. Then again, Taylor was a stalwart last season, winning defensive player of the year honors at 32.

-- Sam Farmer

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