2012 NFL Division Predictions: AFC East

This division has been the Patriots' to lose since 2001. Why stop a good thing when it's working?

After looking at the NFC East yesterday, we’re now going to turn and look at their AFC counterparts. The real question is: why even write this preview? In the past ten years, the Patriots have finished without at least a share of the division lead exactly zero times. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 2002. And they haven’t had a losing record since BTBT (Before Tom Brady Time). But now, in year 12 TBT, does numberFire really expect the trend to change? Let’s just say that it’s less likely than seeing Tim Tebow at a Slayer concert. But there is still plenty of intrigue to sort through in the East. numberFire has more information on the AFC East than you'll find in The Hoodie's Super Secret Videotapes Room.

AFC East Predictions

1. New England Patriots
Overall Rank: #3
Projected Record: 12.8-3.2
Playoff Odds: 69.0%
Super Bowl Odds: 10.1%

One of only two teams numberFire has with double digit championship odds (along with the Green Bay Packers), the New England Patriots are in a solid position to cruise through the AFC East once again. The offense registers as the best in the league according to numberFire’s rankings, and that’s just based on the on-the-field numbers. One of the hidden bonus points to the season is the lack of off-the-field issues as well: this is the first season they’ll be playing without a Moss or Johnson in the locker room since 2006. Ordinarily, I would say that having numberFire’s 29th-ranked defense would hold them back, but finishing #31 in 2011 didn’t really seem to hurt them much. Anything less than 11 wins should be considered a failure.

2. New York Jets
Overall Rank: #16
Projected Record: 10.1-5.9
Playoff Odds: 41.7%
Super Bowl Odds: 2.9%

Here's where having a weaker middle of the AFC pack helps you if you're the Jets: despite being only the 16th best team in the league, they're seventh when only counting AFC teams, or one spot away from the playoffs. The offense leaves something to be desired, as numberFire's -72.48 offensive ranking sits squarely between the vaunted offensive powerhouses in Indianapolis and Denver in potency. It's gotten so bad for Sanchez that not even our analytics will take his side - numberFire has him as only the 16th best quarterback this season. At least he can head home to Kate Upton... I mean Eva Longoria... I mean (remind me to insert a new random starlet here in October). But the defense will be spectacular once again; we've got them as the second best unit in the league behind the Bears. That should be good enough to put them right near double digits in wins.

3. Miami Dolphins
Overall Rank: #17
Projected Record: 5.9-10.1
Playoff Odds: 29.5%
Super Bowl Odds: 1.5%

The Dolphins haven't had a fun offseason, between the whole Peyton Manning completely stiffing them thing to the whole Chad Johnson signed and cut thing to the whole "Wait, people actually care about basketball and not us?" thing. But hey, look at the bright side, Dolphins front office people: our numbers say that you're the 17th best team in the league! *Cheers erupt* And that also places you as the eighth best AFC team in our nERD rankings! *Louder cheers* And because of the easy schedules in your division, we have your most likely record at... 6-10. *Cheers suddenly die, half the office goes on an extended lunch break* Wait, is something wrong there. Well, not so much. Since the Bills have the easiest schedule in the entire NFL, their playoff odds jump while Miami's takes a hit. And while they do have solid unit rankings (offense at #21, defense at #8), they don't have an overwhelming gamechanger like New England's #1 offense or the Jets' #2 defense. Look at the bright side Miami, there's always Lebron (until his next free agency when he can inevitably go to the Lakers).

4. Buffalo Bills
Overall Rank: #21
Projected Record: 5.0-11.0
Playoff Odds: 28.7%
Super Bowl Odds: 1.5%

In about four years, I wonder if Bills fans will look at the Curse of the Harvard QB the same way that they look at the Curse of the James Madison kicker? I doubt it... partially because if the Bills were to make a Super Bowl this season, Bills fans would already be making as many snow angels as humanly possible in joy. As mentioned above, the Bills have the easiest schedule in the NFL this season, but there's only so much that an easy schedule can overcome the #16 offense and the #26 defense according to numberFire's rankings. Fitzpatrick ranks as the #20 fantasy QB in the league on our draft kit. Frankly, if you're relying on Fitzpatrick to win you fantasy match-ups, don't go for a walk next time while the draft's happening, fool. We expect Steve Johnson to not be half bad, but that's really about it. I tend to agree that the 2012 version of the 2011 Buffalo Bills will be... the 2012 Buffalo Bills.