Binge Media Sports: 2014 NFL Preview: AFC East/NFC East

On 28 August, 2014 by Luke Norris

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And here we go. Welcome to the first of a series of previews as Binge Media Sports coverage of the 2014 NFL season begins. Each preview will give you a look at eight teams, four from the AFC and four from the NFC.  I’ll tell you how they did last season, followed by a quick look at the highlights (and lowlights for some) of the team this year. We are having some issues on the site with the voting options, but as soon as the boys sober up from Lawlapalooza, I’m hopeful we can get it taken care of. I’ve been told to leave the title of the poll up, so the plug-in team can see what they’re dealing with, so know that I’m not a moron and just forgot to list the teams. I may end up making the vote its own post later next week, so just keep checking in. But let’s move ahead with at least the previews. We’ll start today with the teams in the AFC and NFC East. Enjoy.

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bills BUFFALO BILLS

LAST SEASON: 6-10, FINISHED 4TH IN THE AFC EAST, MISSED PLAYOFFS

2014 PREVIEW: Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is the biggest addition to a Buffalo (not Toronto, sorry Bon Jovi) team that is still looking to break through just to get to .500. It’s been almost a decade since they’ve done that. The question remains whether or not last year’s first round pick, QB EJ Manuel can get Watkins the ball. He’s still got some improving to do, but a nice 1-2 running back combo in CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson may open up the field a bit.

The defense is on the rise. CB Stephen Gilmore comes back from a broken wrist and could very well become a top corner in the entire NFL if he can play to potential. On the line, they’re still waiting for the Mario Williams signing to pan out, but the real beast is Kyle Williams. He’s made three of the last four Pro Bowls and d0uble teams on him could allow everybody else to step it up.

 

dolphins MIAMI DOLPHINS

LAST SEASON: 8-8, FINISHED TIED FOR 2ND IN THE AFC EAST, MISSED PLAYOFFS

2014 PREVIEW: The Dolphins are looking to get beyond the Richie Incognito drama that plagued them last year. They’ve started that process by completely overhauling the offensive line to protect QB Ryan Tannehill, who got knocked around in the 2013 campaign. WR Brian Hartline seems to have become his favorite target, even though they still have Mike Wallace, who still has to be laughing at all the money he was given. A new system that allows Tannehill to move around a little more should help everybody.

The defense is the strong suit of this team. A solid line that includes Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, who finished with 11 1/2 sacks in just his second year, mixed with a decent secondary should keep Miami near the playoff hunt throughout the season.

 

patriots NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LAST SEASON: 12-4, WON THE AFC EAST, LOST AFC CHAMPIONSHIP TO THE DENVER BRONCOS

2014 PREVIEW: Even with the hodgepodge of receivers he had to work with last year, QB Tom Brady still led the Pats to the second best record in the AFC and a spot in the AFC Championship, eventually losing to rival Peyton Manning. It seems that no matter who they put on the field, they find a way to get things done. If the injuries can remain limited, especially to Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski, the offense should be very sharp.

The dangerous thing about New England this season is the upgrade on the defensive side of the football, the biggest addition being perennial All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who signed after a very short time in Tampa. He can change the way an entire offense plays, which may help if they run into the Broncos again in the playoffs. I’ll go ahead and cast my vote here. The Patriots will win this division and are a strong contender for the Super Bowl. (How happy did I just make Jack?)

 

jets NEW YORK JETS

LAST SEASON: 8-8, FINISHED TIED FOR 2ND IN THE AFC EAST, MISSED PLAYOFFS

2014 PREVIEW: J.E.T.S., J.E.T.S., J.E.T.S., JETS, JETS, JETS!!!!! That’s about as excited as anyone can get about the green and white this season. Sure, they brought in some big names to fill the back page in Michael Vick and Chris Johnson, but neither are anywhere near their prime. Instead, Jets fans get Geno Smith and Chris Ivory, who just aren’t ready to compete for this division.

The defense doesn’t help much. Muhammad Wilkerson is a monster and 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson is up and coming, but the secondary is atrocious. They’ll squeak out four or five wins, but is that enough to save Rex Ryan’s job again?

[yop_poll id=”144″]

 

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Before I write anything, just know that I root for the Dallas Cowboys, but I’m still a professional, so I’ll still talk about the positive aspects of the other teams that I despise so much in this division. I just wanted you all to know how painful it is for me. Let’s continue.

 

 

cowboys DALLAS COWBOYS

LAST SEASON: 8-8, FINISHED 2ND IN THE NFC EAST, MISSED PLAYOFFS

2014 PREVIEW: The offense is there. Bash Tony Romo all you like, but the guy puts up numbers. TE Jason Witten may be the most consistent player on this team and maybe one of the most consistent in the league. Year after year, he continues to produce. The maturity of wideout Dez Bryant has made him one of the best receivers in football, and he could have his best year yet. RB DeMarco Murray could be an All-Pro if he could only stay healthy, but that’s a really big if. Throw in arguably the best offensive line in the league, and the Cowboys could put up 35 a game.

The problem is that they’ll give up 36. After the worst year in franchise history on that side of the ball, something has to change. Just when the offense would do something great, the defense would do something equally awful to hinder any momentum. Throw in the fact that DeMarcus Ware moved to Denver, and there could be real trouble in Big D. People have been waiting for years for this team to realize its potential, and we may have to continue to wait. The talent is there, but the coaching is not. As a fan, I hope they surprise me, but if I had any big money to throw around, the easiest bet in football right now is an 8-8 finish.

 

giants NEW YORK GIANTS

LAST SEASON: 7-9, FINISHED 3RD IN THE NFC EAST, MISSED PLAYOFFS

2014 PREVIEW: The Giants are moving to a West Coast offense. What? After ten years of playing in a system, Eli Manning looks to bounce back after a dreadful 2013. It will be interesting to see if this new style can limit his interception total. He’s got some good receivers in Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle to get the ball to.

The defense could go either way depending on injuries. Jason Pierre-Paul is getting older and didn’t have a great year last year, so he’ll be looking to get the defensive line back on track. They didn’t get to the quarterback much last year, which you have to do in this division. The secondary isn’t spectacular, but can be very efficient. But here’s the thing about New York. Every time I count them out, they end up going on a run and sneaking into the playoffs. We’ll see if the new schemes can get them back on track.

 

eagles PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

LAST SEASON: 10-6, WON THE NFC EAST, LOST IN THE WILD CARD ROUND TO THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

2014 PREVIEW: Head coach Chip Kelly surprised everyone last year by making a smooth transition to the NFL. He won’t be able to sneak up on teams anymore, but they’re still going to be very good. Quarterback Nick Foles became a star last year, yes you read that right. In his ten starts, he threw for 27 touchdowns while only throwing 2 picks. Mix that kind of passing efficiency with a strong 1-2 punch at running back and you’ve got a recipe to win football games. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles can change an entire game with the ability to run and catch passes out of the backfield. Look for this offense to score a ton of points.

The defense isn’t terrible either. It could certainly be better, but part of the reason that they give up so many yards is because the offense scores so quickly. But some free agent signings like Malcolm Jenkins and the improvement on the corners of Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams could move them in the right direction. The Eagles have to be considered the favorite in this division. (I just threw up in my mouth a little.)

 

redskins WASHINGTON REDSKINS

LAST SEASON: 3-13, FINISHED 4TH IN THE NFC EAST, MISSED PLAYOFFS

2014 PREVIEW: The biggest topic in the offseason was actually just the team name itself. On the field, all eyes will obviously be on Robert Griffin III. New head coach Jay Gruden is looking to limit how much RG3 runs the ball, but we’ll have to wait and see if that becomes a reality. He’s a hell of an athlete, but he’s got to learn how to throw the football. Former Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson gives him another option opposite Pierre Garcon. Injury will always be a question for Griffin, but they’ve got a great backup in Kirk Cousins, who may still end up on another team.

Defensively, the ‘Skins need to improve. There’s really no other way to say it. The numbers aren’t as bad as the rival Cowboys’, but something needs to change. They take a ton of chances on defense and have a tendency to get burned. I think they’ll get more than the three wins they got last year, but not by much.

[yop_poll id=”145″]

8 down, 24 to go. Next time I’ll take a look at the North Divisions, so I know my loyal Illinois readers will be excited about the Bears preview, but I’ll also be looking at the Packers, Lions, Vikings, Bengals, Steelers, Ravens, and Browns. There will certainly be plenty to discuss with those teams.  Again, I really hope our voting system gets fixed quickly and I’ll let you know as soon as it does. If you want to leave a vote in the comments section, feel free to do so and we can punch it in later, and I know I’ll have at least one Pats vote (yes, Jack, I’m talking to you). But if you’re thinking upsets or otherwise, let me know below or follow me and tweet @THElukenorris.

 

 

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