AFC East preview: The rest playing catch-up to Tom Brady and the Patriots

PREVIEW

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The Independent Online

The NFL season is upon us! The Independent takes a look at all 32 teams, how they have spent their summer and what fans can expect this season. Tom Brady is no longer banned, and that spells trouble...

BUFFALO BILLS

One of the NFL’s best defences last year, the Buffalo Bills defence should be even stronger after the appointment of defensive guru Rex Ryan as head coach.

Ryan, the former head coach of the New York Jets, has proven time and time again not to be the best at handling his quarterbacks and in Tyrod Taylor he has a starting quarterback who remains unproven, despite this being his fifth season. Taylor spent four years behind Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ depth chart.

Taylor’s job will be made easier by his explosive supporting cast. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Charles Clay, LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin complete the skill positions on a talented offence.

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MIAMI DOLPHINS

The dark horses in the AFC are the Miami Dolphins. With an immensely talented roster, the only question is whether head coach Joe Philbin is the right man for the job; Philbin was criticised for his decision-making at times last season but this year will be less about him and more about his players.

Tackle Ndamukong Suh became the highest-paid defensive player when he signed a six-year, $114million contract with Miami in March. He joins Earl Mitchell, Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon to form what could be one of the league’s best defensive lines.

The receiving corps, which features Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker, is the other standout position group.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Tom Brady will be keen to focus on football again after an off-season spent dealing with the ‘Deflategate' saga.

Initially handed a four-game suspension by league commissioner Roger Goodell for his part in the scandal, Brady was reinstated after a federal judge vacated his suspension on 3 September. The NFL appealed against Judge Richard Berman’s decision, so the case, already eight-months old, isn’t quite finished.

The Patriots lost several key figures from last season’s Super Bowl-winning roster, including cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and ten-year cornerstone Vince Wilfork.

NEW YORK JETS

The New York Jets enter the 2015 season with their strongest roster in years but with concerns at the quarterback position.

If Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t the current starting quarterback then we may be talking about this team as play-off contenders. His backup, Geno Smith, gives the team its best chance of success, despite two poor years, but is sidelined after suffering a broken jaw in a locker room altercation with former Jets player IK Enemkpali, allegedly over an unpaid debt.

Todd Bowles is the new head coach after Ryan’s departure, the former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator joining after an impressive season in Arizona in which the defence finished fifth in points allowed.

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