AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots

Despite the loss of Tom Brady for the first quarter of the season due to the Deflategate punishment, the Patriots are the class of the AFC East, like they have been for almost two decades. New England spent six draft picks on lineman in this past draft, bulking up on both sides of the ball. Until another team in the AFC East can dethrone the champs, they will remain number one in the division, and you better believe the other teams know that.

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2. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins rewarded QB Ryan Tannehill with a new contract extension, but if you actually look at the numbers it is a “show me” contract that has little risk for the Dolphins long-term (similar to the Bengals Andy Dalton’s deal). The Fins front office has surrounded their QB with new weapons including first round pick Devante Parker, who is one of the most NFL-ready receivers I’ve seen come out of college in some time. On the other side of the ball, look for Miami to make a statement with a dominating front with prized free agent Ndamukong Suh manning the d-line. It will be difficult for a second team from the AFC East to make the playoffs, but if Tannehill can prove his worth and the defense can live up to expectations, the Dolphins could be that second team.

3. Buffalo Bills

The Bills were the most active team in the division during the offseason, making deals that saw Shady McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay all become members of Bills Nation. While these are solid pieces to an offense that did lack a lot of play-makers, the largest questions mark for the Bills this offseason went unaddressed…quarterback. They did trade for Matt Cassell and signed Tyrod Taylor to add to former first round pick EJ Manuel on the roster, but do any of those names scream playoff QB? Western New York is going crazy for Tyrod Taylor who has shown promise in OTA’s but he is NOT a playoff-caliber quarterback. Until this need is addressed, the longest active playoff drought in the NFL will continue, even though the Bills could have the most dominant defensive line in the AFC led by a new head coach who is a defensive guru in Rex Ryan.

4. New York Jets

The Jets are fourth in the division power rankings, but it was close after the phenomenal draft they had a month ago. Adding my number one overall player Leonard Williams to a defensive line that already has names like Wilkerson, Coples and Richardson the Jets will challenge the Bills for the most dominant d-line in the AFC. The Jets defensive front is a lot younger and has more potential at this point in their careers, so if they are not the best yet, give it time. Similar to the Bills situation, New York has a quarterback dilemma; will Geno Smith show he is a capable NFL quarterback? The jury is still out, but Geno is the reason why the Jets are ranked fourth, even with the superstar additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall.

The AFC East has been one of the least competitive divisions over the past ten years, but 2015 looks to be the opposite. With all four teams capable of making a run to the postseason, health will be key and possibly the deciding factor.

What are your rankings of the AFC East? Let me know in the comments below….

Dan Schalk covers the NFL for MyFantasySportsTalk, you can follow him on Twitter @ffsportstalk

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