2023 NFL PREVIEW- AFC EAST

2023-08-28 · 6 min read · NFL/Football
Rams Jalen Ramsey and Packers Aaron Rodgers

Ashley Landis/Associated Press | Darryl Webb/AP

Throughout the past 20-plus years, this division has been dominated by two teams, the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.
From 2003 to 2019 the Pats captured the AFC East title every single season, but lately, it’s been all about the Bills, who’ve taken the crown over the past three regular-season campaigns.
The addition of Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets and the explosive offence of the Miami Dolphins makes this one of the most intriguing divisions to call in decades.
Here is a breakdown of each team and my predictions.
New England Patriots
Key Additions
  • Juju Smith-Shuster- Wide Receiver- Kansas City Chiefs
  • Ezekiel Elliott- Running Back- Dallas Cowboys
  • Bill O’Brien- Offensive Coordinator- Alabama
Key Subtractions
  • Jakobi Meyers- Wide Receiver- Las Vegas Raiders
  • Damien Harris- Running Back- Buffalo Bills
  • Devin McCourty- Safety- Retired
Biggest Strength
As you might expect for a team led by Bill Belichick, the Pats have a stingy defensive unit, who were among the best at disrupting the quarterback in 2022.
New England was tied for third in the previous NFL regular season regarding sacks (54), with Matthew Judon registering 15.5, while they allowed the eighth-fewest yards per game (322), and I expect they’ll be a tough team to move the ball against this year.
Biggest Weakness
Mac Jones needs a clean slate more than any quarterback in the AFC East and having an experienced winning coach in Bill O’Brien should help; however, I’m not convinced he’ll have enough time in the pocket to find open receivers.
The Pats O-line gave up 41 sacks a year ago, and I’m not so sure that issue has been addressed yet, which is not what Jones needs heading into year three following a dismal 2022 campaign.
Prediction- 4th in AFC East
Not since 2000 has New England finished dead last in its division, but they’ve only made a few adequate upgrades this year, and I’m not sure Rhamondre Stevenson can shoulder a much bigger load out of the backfield.
New York Jets
Key Additions
  • Aaron Rodgers- Quarterback- Green Bay Packers
  • Allen Lazard- Wide Receiver- Green Bay Packers
  • Randall Cobb- Wide Receiver- Green Bay Packers
Key Subtractions
  • Elijah Moore- Wide Receiver- Cleveland Browns
  • Nathan Shepherd- Defensive Tackle- New Orleans Saints
  • Kwon Alexander- Linebacker- Pittsburgh Steelers
Biggest Strength
Even with the addition of a four-time NFL MVP in Rodgers, who’s also been named an All-Pro 10 times, Robert Saleh’s team should excel in the cover game this year.
Sauce Gardner lived up to his billing in year one, as he was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2022, leading the league in passes defended, and he, along with fellow Pro Bowl corner Justin Hardee, will lead what could be a tough unit to throw against.
Biggest Weakness
The Jets were near the back of the pack when it came to rushing the ball in 2022, averaging 99.2 yards a game, and with Breece Hall still struggling to get back to 100%, that could be a sore spot for them this season.
Dalvin Cook is a four-time Pro Bowler who signed a one-year deal in August and might be of assistance, however, he’s coming off his worst year as a pro, averaging under 4.5 yards per carry in 2022.
Prediction- 2nd in AFC East
2022 was nowhere near what we’ve come to expect from Aaron Rodgers, but he’s got some familiar personnel in New York, along with the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year in Garrett Wilson.
Not only should this team be vastly improved offensively, but they’ve kept their defensive corps intact, so expect the J-E-T-S to be in the playoff race until the bitter end.
Miami Dolphins
Key Additions
  • Jalen Ramsey- Cornerback- Los Angeles Rams
  • Braxton Berrios- Wide receiver- New York Jets
  • David Long- Linebacker- Tennessee Titans
Key Subtractions
  • Mike Gesicki- Tight End- New England Patriots
  • Trent Sherfield- Wide Receiver- Buffalo Bills
  • Teddy Bridgewater- Quarterback- Released
Biggest Strength
Miami was a handful for opposing secondaries last year, and the two-headed monster of Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill will be the focal points of this offence in 2023; when you add Braxton Berrios to the mix, it could be another big year for this team in the passing department.
Biggest Weakness
Last year Miami’s game-changing plays lay in their explosive receiving corps, however, they seem to be short on ball hawks who can create turnovers this season even with Ramsey in the fold, as the Dolphins had a mere 14 takeaways in 2022, tied for 30th in the NFL.
Prediction- 3rd in AFC East
Big plays on offence could be the biggest item on the Mike McDaniel menu for 2023, but Tua Tagovailoa’s ongoing injury issues has me worried that he can stay healthy throughout an entire regular season, and I doubt they’ll be nearly as competitive if Skylar Thompson or Mike White have to take over.
Buffalo Bills
Key Additions
  • Damien Harris- Running Back- New England Patriots
  • Trent Sherfield- Wide Receiver- Miami Dolphins
  • Leonard Floyd- Defensive End- Los Angeles Rams
Key Subtractions
  • Tremaine Edmunds- Linebacker- Chicago Bears
  • Devin Singletary- Running Back- Houston Texans
  • Cole Beasley- Wide Receiver- New York Giants
Biggest Strength
Josh Allen will be an early favourite once again to capture the MVP trophy, and despite suffering through an elbow injury in 2022, he still put comparable numbers to the elite QBs in the league, assuming he’s healthy, I don’t foresee him tossing 14 picks again this season.
Biggest Weakness
The Damar Hamlin scenario understandably seemed to impact this team down the stretch of the regular season.
Sean McDermott’s group might have a hard time forcing opposing teams into punting situations and you can bet opposing offences will target their secondary.
Prediction- 1st in AFC East
For the first time in forever, this division is up for grabs, as any of these four teams could win it; however, I see Josh Allen bouncing back and showing his MVP qualities, while I believe the Bills will be much more productive running the ball.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre

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