AFC EAST: What does New England have in common with Johnny Tremain? They’re patriots who will overcome injuries to triumph in the East.
Dan "The Guru Doctor" horsecollars the AFC East:
1. New England Patriots
New England doesn't deserve this team. Yeah, I voted Kerry, but I can't stand that culture of blue-blooded Bostonians slapping Pats stickers all over their minivan-bandwagons, blithely shelling out for the league's most expensive ticket so they can go to a game with their 24-year-old son who can't pronounce Rs and his pink-Red-Sox-hat-wearing girlfriend who thinks she understands the game because she can name a player who isn't Tom Brady (i.e., Adam Vinatieri). You already got your goddamn Red Sox World Series, New England, so stop making us hear about how selfless and talentless your players are. Just because they're not Lawrence Taylor doesn't mean they're all shining bastions of gamesmanship. Yes, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have earned most of the superlatives that sports reporters ejaculate onto them, but enough is enough, and I really hope this is the year someone beats these motherfuckers. They lost their offensive and defensive coordinators, they're without Ty Law, Teddi Bruschi, Ted Johnson, and Roman Phifer on defense, but until New England's season officially ends, they are unquestionably the team to beat in the NFL. Deion Branch turned into Altered Beast in the playoffs last year; if he plays like that all season, this will be one of the league's deadliest offenses. For those of you, like me, that can't wait to see this team go down, don't hold your breath.
Tom Brady is a dreamboat
2. New York Jets
I expect the Jets to take a turn for the worse every year, but Herman Edwards, the dancing skeleton that coaches this team, always points these guys into the playoffs. They're one of the toughest teams in football, a cliché usually reserved for NFL Films about some white linebacker in the 60s who took cheap shots at people, but these Jets really do always hang in games. However, the appendages of Chad Pennington and Ty Law will be of great concern as the season wears, plus I really do believe Curtis Martin will stumble a little this year, so I'm going to go against my intellect and pick the Jets to miss the playoffs. Laveraneus Coles usually produces more stats than substance, plus Justin McCareins is... some guy, so a quizzical task awaits Mike Heimerdinger, the Jets' new offensive coordinator and former German U-Boat captain. All I do know is, the AFC is crowded, and I have to make at least one slightly ballsy pick, so whatever, the Jets are getting slapped by my balls.
The Jets' Mike Heimerdinger: "Ich bin ein coordinator!"
3. Buffalo Bills
J.P. Losman? More like J.P. Loss-Man. Not necessarily, but felt an obligation to get that joke in. The first-year-starter at QB offers a more mobile alternative to the tungsten-footed Drew Bledsoe, who has moved to Dallas to complete the decline of his underwhelming career. Willis McGahee is a top-flight running back, but a fruitless offseason has turned the question marks on the Bills' offensive line into question marks with exclamation points after them. Coach Mike Mularkey, grandson of renowned circus promoter Thatsabuncha Mularkey, hopes to build off a 2004 season in which Bledsoe and Co. squandered more than a couple fine outings by the defense. The anchor on D is Takeo Spikes, a fearsome, mobile linebacker capable of killing Nintendo characters if they touch him, with Lawyer Milloy and Troy Vincent rounding out a superb unit of guys who you forgot aren't on their old teams anymore. If they can get over that Jets hump this season, the Bills could be playoff bound, earning the Loss-Man the title of Boss-Man and therefore making him also able to kill Nintendo characters by touching them.
Mike Mularkey (right) with his grandfather Thatsabuncha, 1937
4. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins signed Gus Frerotte to be their starting quarterback, but it's likely we'll see A.J. Fiedler in there at some point (does it really matter which?) Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will share the carries at running back, which should be an upgrade over whoever the hell their leading rusher was last year. Zach Thomas? Some dude from the Rams? Don't remember, don't care to look it up. Sure, Thomas and Junior Seau can still make some plays, but like all humans outside Narnia, they're not getting any younger, plus they lost their entire secondary in the offseason, so every passing play will result in a Jason Taylor sack or an automatic touchdown. Rookie head coach Nick Saban is reputed as a stern, old-school disciplinarian, but we have yet to see how NFL players will react to having their fingers slapped with a ruler whenever they improperly diagram sentences. The Dolphins will be better this year, but if they manage a seven-win season out of the AFC East, expect their fans to be singing "Buenvenidos a Mee-ami!"
Junior Seau is running out of time to win a Superbowl