AFC East Schedule

AFC East: Best Division in Football?

If you just look at records, a good argument can be made for the AFC East being the best division in football. Tonight’s battle for first place between the Jets and Patriots being decided by a field goal in overtime is evidence of just how good all the teams in this division might be.

It’s conceivable that at the end of this weekend the Jets could have a one-game lead over all three other teams in the division. And it doesn’t stop there. Take a look at the remaining games for each of the four teams:

(Remaining Opponent’s Records in Parentheses)
JETS: @ Ten, Den, @ SF, Buf, @ Sea, Mia (28-25)
PATS: @ Mia, Pit, @ Sea, @ Oak, Ari, @ Buf (25-28)
FINS: Oak, NE, @ StL, @ Buf (Tor), SF, @ KC, @ NYJ (20-34)
BILLS: Cle, @ KC, SF, Mia (Tor), @ NYJ, @ Den, NE (22-32)

The Dolphins would seem to have the easiest remaining schedule of all four of the teams. But they also have four remaining road games, as do the Patriots. The Bills have three actual road games left, but most consider one of the remaining home games a virtual away game, as it will be played in Toronto, Canada.

A quick glance at the remaining schedules, taking into account how the four teams have played so far, it is not unreasonable to say that each team in this division could actually finish with ten wins!

The Jets already have seven, and they play Denver at home (whose defense is horrendous), and road games against two of the NFC West teams that currently sport 2 wins and 7 losses. Those games alone should get them to ten wins on the season.

The Patriots have been playing really well under their fill-in quarterback. (And their fill-in running backs, for that matter.) They should be favored to win their two West coast road games against Oakland and Seattle. The other five games could be tough, but it would be hard to see the Patriots losing three of those five.

While it is just incredible that the Dolphins actually have a winning record 10 weeks into the season, they have earned it. They are playing hard, and they are using the talent they have to its fullest potential. Don’t expect that to stop. They get to play Oakland, St. Louis, Kansas City and San Francisco. It’s still a little hard to believe, but, the team who had one win last season should win all four of those. That is nine wins, and it seems the Fins might grab one of the three division games they have remaining.

The Bills have their share of “easy” opponents as well, starting with the Cleveland Browns this Monday. The Browns have been up and down all year, but do not have a very strong defense, and are starting a quarterback who has only played one NFL game. The home-field advantage on Monday Night, coupled with the Bills fired up to break out of this 3-game losing streak should give the Bills the win this week, and then they have Kansas City and San Francisco, as well as a game against the Broncos who have struggled. That would give them, quite possibly, 10 wins on the season.

Factoring in what we know now, I’m predicting the division will end up like this:

NY Jets 11-5
Buffalo 11-5
New England 9-7
Miami 9-7

I know I said that everyone could have 10 wins, but honestly I think the Dolphins and Patriots will have a harder time reaching that goal. Although, it is very, very possible. And, the only way the Bills end up with 11 wins is if they rediscover their run game, and bring balance back to their offense. (A little pass rush wouldn’t hurt either!)

The division goes to the Jets (even if the Bills win the rematch) thanks to their likely 4-2 division record (beating Miami in the final game of the season) with the best possible AFC East record for the Bills being 3-3.

That three-game winless stretch against the East was a crushing blow, even with a half-season remaining.

But in the end, a division with a 40-24 record would be pretty amazing. Considering last year (even with the historic 16-0 Patriots) the division was a meager 28-36!

This race should come down to the final weekend with both AFC East matchups playing a crucial role in the Division title and the Wild Card berth.

That is why they play the games!

(Footnote: The final division standing above could be quite different if the Pats beat the Steelers (I think Pittsburgh should win), and if the Dolphins can beat the Jets in the final game of the season. If that happens, it could be like this:

Buffalo 11-5
Miami 10-6
New England 10-6
NY Jets 10-6

Not sure who would win the tie-breakers between NY and NE. Head-to-head, Division, and Conference records would likely be the same. It’s gonna be a fun finish! End footnote.)

AFC East Games Schedule

One Very Meaningful Month

10/19 San Diego
10/26 @ Miami
11/2 New York Jets
11/9 @ New England
11/17 Cleveland

This Sunday the Bills host the San Diego Chargers. It’s a surprisingly difficult game to call. The Chargers would seem to have the upper hand talent-wise, but the Bills have many other advantages. Aside from being quite talented themselves, they also have the home field advantage, the time zone advantage (and no cross-country trip), they are coming off the bye, and a handful of other match-ups in their favor.

Still, the game could really go either way. And that doesn’t necessarily hurt the Bills.

Now, you always want to win. And, if they Bills pull off the win against the Chargers, that puts them in pretty good shape in the conference, having victories over the Jags and Chargers – two AFC playoff candidates. But if you take a look at the next month of games for the Bills, they could really put the team in a great position for their first playoff run in nine years.

From October 19th through November 17th, the Bills face five AFC opponents, three of those being their first AFC East contests of the 2008 season. If they can win each of those games, they would be almost a lock for a playoff spot. And of course, the opposite is true. If they should lose all or most of those games, it would be much more difficult, despite their 4-0 start.

Following the first game vs San Diego, the Bills head down to Miami to face the Dolphins in their first of three straight AFC East games. Miami has already beaten the Patriots and the Chargers, and gave Houston a tough game on the road recently. They are certainly improved over the 1-15 team they were last year. It will be a test for the Bills, especially being down in the heat of Miami in November. However, if the Bills are the team we think they are, they go into Miami, and leave with the win.

After that, the Bills host the New York Bretts … uh… Jets. The Jets certainly have a bit more… something? They have a decent receiving corp, a couple decent running backs, and a decent defense. But overall, they are still the Jets. Brett Farve is definitely the “X” factor, and can win any game he goes out to play. But they are still the Jets. The Bills need to win this game at home, and I believe they will.

That leaves the matchup I have been waiting for since the schedule game out. With half a season under their belts, our young, confident Bills will head to Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on the despised division rival, the Patriots. The Pats have won some ridiculous amount of games to the Bills ONE in the past many years. It’s time for that to change, and with Matt Cassell at QB, the Bills are in a much better position to go in and control the game, and leave with a big win over the Pats. The Patriots still have a decent team, but the Bills are better, and I will stick with my prediction that the Bills will win both games against New England this season. (Note: I made that prediction before Tom Brady went down with an injury for the entire season.)

That leaves the big Monday Night Football showdown at The Ralph against the Cleveland Browns. Last season, the Bills needed a win in Cleveland to have any shot at making the playoffs. They were met head on by a crazy blizzard and other such forces of nature, leading to a 8-0 loss to the Brownies. Was not at all what anyone was expecting, but perhaps this Nov 17th contest in Buffalo will turn out differently.

The Browns showed last week that they are still a talented team offensively. The Bills can score points as well. I’d expect a good battle between two up-and-coming AFC playoff hopefuls, and I would also expect the Bills to put on a show for the national audience. Much like they did vs Dallas last year, except this year, they will finish with a ‘W’.

If the Bills can have success as I describe above over the next month of Sundays (and a Monday) then at 9-1, or at least 8-2, they will be in great shape for their first trip tot he playoffs in nearly a decade. Following this 5-game stretch, the next two opponents are Kansas City, and then home against San Francisco.

Things are looking good for Bills fans.

A lot depends on this very meaningful month. How the Bills perform over that month should say a lot about them, and may nearly ensure that they will play in the second season.

That would be welcome news indeed.

AFC East Bills History Current Bills

A Good QB Changes Everything

Trent Edwards, Buffalo BillsFollowing two straight fourth-quarter comebacks, the Buffalo Bills are alone atop the AFC East. All by themselves. That has not happened since week 13 of the 1996 NFL season. That is a long time.

We’ve heard the stats. The Bills are off to their fastest start since 1992. Not since that season has a Bills team started 3-0. And this week with the Bills facing the team who is arguably off to the worst start of all 32 NFL teams in 2008, most consider it a foregone conclusion that the Bills will be 4-0.

The last time the Bills started a season 4-0 was also 1992. Go back another year to find the last time a Bills team started the season with a 5-0 record. They lost their sixth game that year – the year after “Wide Right” – but went on to amass a 10-1 record, cruising to the AFC East crown and eventually, the AFC title.

But let’s go back just a couple years. 1988. The Bills were coming out of relative obscurity. Back to back 2-14 seasons, followed by a 4-12 season (which saw the arrival of new – and equally obscure – head coach, Marv Levy) followed by a meager 7-8 season. They had not made the playoffs for six straight seasons, but there seemed to be reason for hope.

A very talented young team was being put together. Largely around stars like Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, and even Andre Reed (from tiny Kutztown State university) and a rookie RB from Oklahoma State, Thurman Thomas. A blockbuster trade had brought LB Cornelius Bennett to town, inspiring more hope from the Buffalo faithful. There was certainly potential…

But it had been so long since there had been a real winner in Buffalo.

All of a sudden though, the wins began coming. 1-0. 2-0. 3-0. People began wondering about this “surprising” team from Buffalo. Robb Riddick kept jumping over the pile for a goal-line TD. Butch Rolle continued to fool everyone as Kelly would fake the handoff and toss the ball to a wide open (little used) TE. (Didn’t they watch the film? If Butch was on the field, he was going to get the TD!) A pretty solid offensive line, a QB who was showing he could will his team to win, a budding receiving star, and a scrappy defense – even a kicker who never missed. (32-33 FGs on the season, including an OT game winner that gave the Bills their first AFC East title in many long years.)

This team came out of nowhere to go 11-1, and grab the AFC East from their other four unsuspecting division rivals. And the rest of the NFL.

Flash forward to 2008.

This young, confident Bills team, being built around a young QB, a scrappy defense, a few solid veteran additions, a talented young RB – and even a kicker who never misses – has gotten out of the gates quickly. 1-0 after a blowout. 2-0 with a tough win on the road against a playoff contender. 3-0 following a sloppy performance, turned gutsy comeback. It looks like the sky is the limit for this young team, and it almost looks like we’re 20 years in the past… ready to do it all again!

And the thing that gives me more confidence about that is watching our QB manage his offense.

If you take a look around our division – which the Bills currently lead by one game – who else would you rather have at QB in the crunch? Now that Tom Brady is gone, the starting four AFC East QBs are: Edwards, Brett Favre, Chad Pennington, and Matt Cassel. Cassel has looked quite pedestrian, Favre has seemed at best out of step, and Pennington is… Pennington.

Edwards on the other hand has been incredibly accurate, completing 67% of his passes – and much higher in the 4th quarters of all three games. In the first game, late in the third quarter, Edwards sealed the victory with a 30 yard bullet to TE Robert Royal to quickly buoy the Bills from a 10 pt lead to a 24 point lead, and victory. In game number two, Edwards rallied a very tired and heat-exhausted Bills team to a 4 point victory from 6 points down on the road against a team who never loses when leading at home heading into the 4th quarter.

And last week, Edwards looked even more determined and capable as the Bills’ field general, picking apart the Raiders secondary in the 4th quarter, leading the Bills to score 17 points – even after the defense gave up a disheartening 84 yard TD catch and run by Johnnie Lee Higgins – giving the Bills the one-point victory at the final whistle.

Folks, what we have in Buffalo is a winning QB.

Cassel is not (yet) a winner. Favre has been, but is not looking like the Favre we have seen the past 16 NFL seasons. Pennington has never been a real winner. Edwards is looking like he is. And he’s only started 12 NFL games! He is now 8-4 as a starter, and perhaps his last three games have been his most impressive.

When Tom Brady went down, I said it was way too early to change your AFC East predictions based solely on the loss of one player. It is a team game. BUT… after Miami’s 38-13 drubbing of the Pats last week, and after two straight 4th quarter come-from-behind victories lead by Edwards, I am reconsidering. It still feels too early, but with a favorable schedule, and a QB who seems to have the confidence and the ability to rally his team to victory (and the apparent lack of that from the rest of the AFC East) I am truly beginning to believe.

I have said it many times actually. I believe this year is going to be much like that 1988 season. The Bills take most of the NFL world by surprise, and just keep winning. All the way to the AFC East title. Maybe – like 20 years ago – all the way to the AFC Championship game.

Maybe beyond.

We can’t know. That is a long way away. It is a long season. But for now, it’s fun to be in this Bills fan time warp. It was a pretty fun 6 years from 1988-1994. Maybe this time around, the Bills can finish it off with a big W. The biggest W this franchise has ever posted.

I don’t think it will happen in 2008… but, you just never know.

Bring on the Rams, and let’s keep this thing rolling!

Most statistical data was obtained from Some current stats also found at

AFC East Games Players

2-0: Bills Gaining Confidence

Buffalo Bills beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 with help from Ashton Youboty
The Buffalo Bills are 2-0. Two wins, zero losses. Two wins against playoff teams from 2007. One was a blowout, one was a come-from-behind win on the road. Both were very solid wins.

Aren’t you a little bit surprised?

I am forever a fan of my team, and just generally an optimist in life. So, I always think my team can win. Indeed, I did pick them to win today (by a score of 21-17, no less) but as game time approached, my confidence was wavering.

It was going to be very hot… that was not in the Bills favor. Jacksonville was going to be ready – injuries or no injuries – to defend their home turf, and avoid starting the season 0-2. The crowd and home-field energy would be with them. Jason Peters would be starting… would that throw off any rhythm the offense had from the pre-season? And, did I mention it was extremely, ridiculously hot?

More Obstacles

The Bills got the ball first, and really controlled the game on their opening drive. They passed and ran at will. Marshawn Lynch scored on an 11-yard TD run to cap the drive that covered 82 yards. When the defense also managed to dictate the play on Jacksonville’s first possession, it almost seemed it would be a rout.

But Jacksonville is good. And they proved it. They stayed with the Bills. They moved the ball very efficiently, getting Garrard outside the pocket (weakened by injuries to the offensive line). They played in an up-tempo, “hurry up” offense that did not allow the Bills much in the way of substitutions. They connected on many quick-hitting, ten to twelve-yard passes that kept drives alive. It was a great game plan.

The momentum really started to shift in their favor on their final possession of the first half. They put together a good drive (6 plays, 46 yards) that ended with an interception by Terrence McGee near the goal line, but the damage had already been done. That drive wore out our defense. No time to substitute, covering lots of ground quickly… you could see the heat starting to get to them.

Then, thanks to the “defer” choice from the beginning of the game, the Jags got the ball to start the third. So, the defense was out on the field again, and for much of the same. Quick hitting passes, and a bit of success on the ground for Jacksonville. Not only were they moving the ball, and threatening to score, they were also really wearing down our defense. The “hurry up” pace in the super heat was really starting to show. The tackling was sloppy, and the Bills were now the ones having the pace and play dictated to them.

Brilliant Move of the Day

The long first drive of the second half by Jacksonville was punctuated by a Maurice Jones-Drew TD run to tie the game at 10. It was a great drive, and already I was saying, “Our offense might be a tad rusty. They’ve been sitting for a very long time now, going back to the first half.”

Well, perhaps Jack Del Rio heard me. In a bold (and brilliant) move, the Jaguars surprised the Bills with an on-side kick following the previous extra point … and they got it! What a great call! The tired Bills defense now had to take the field again, and the Jags took it to them. They ran right at them, daring the Bills to stop them. And, mostly, they could not. Taylor, then Jones-Drew, then Taylor. The Bills were being dominated by the team who had definitely seized the momentum.

The defense stiffened, and held Jacksonville to a 50 yard field goal attempt. Kicker Josh Scobee blasted the ball through the uprights, hitting relatively high on the net behind the posts. Easily could have made the kick from another ten yards away.

On the following drive by the Bills despite a few good plays, Jason Peters on his first game back made a very big mistake and got beaten very badly by a rookie defensive end, who came around Edwards’ blind side and knocked the ball out of his hands. Fumble. Turnover. Jags ball.

The momentum – thanks to good play and good coaching – had definitely completely swung in Jacksonville’s favor.

Good Teams Weather the Storms

The Buffalo Bills of previous years would have been out as soon as the “tide turned.” Once this shift in momentum happened, the Bills usually would begin to accept the inevitable. And when they did, it would usually play out that way. They would lose.

But not today. Not these Bills.

Donte Whitner declared to the world that these Bills would be in the playoffs. It’s their time to win. He believes it, and he plays that way. The great thing is, his confidence is apparently infectious.

The Bills never felt they were out of it, and you could see every time the offense took the field again, they played with confidence. They converted third downs. In fact, six out of eleven. The defense did their part as well. Though the Jags had a good game plan, the defense only allowed them to convert on two of eleven third down attempts.

Players like Ashton Youboty made several key plays. Youboty had a sack, and some big open-field tackles to thwart Jacksonville drives. Kyle Williams had a big sack of Garrard to do the same. LB Paul Posluszny was all over the field and making big tackles. And offensively, RB Fred Jackson did not have much production on the ground, but had 7 catches for 83 yards. Big yards. Lee Evans included 4 grabs for 77 yards. Including a super huge catch late in the fourth quarter.

And what can you say about Edwards? 20-25 for 239 yards. Finished with only one TD pass, but for the second straight week… threw no picks. His passes were accurate, and had lots of zip on them today. And beyond the physical play, he really does have the poise, presence… whatever you want to call it. He is confident, and efficient, and productive.

Defining Moment

The entire game was played very well by the Bills, minus some over-pursuit by the defense, which sometimes led to shoddy tackling. The Bills played will in all phases of the game, just as in week one. But there was one moment that proved to me that this team is going to be different than previous versions of the Buffalo Bills.

Down 16-10 with under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter of a game on the road, played in near 100-degree heat… the Bills have the ball and are driving. They get one first down. Then convert a third down to get another. Finally they are faced with a becoming-critical 3rd-and-6 from the Jacksonville 44 yard line. It’s too far for a FG, and the Bills need points. They need to convert this to keep the drive going.

Edwards drops back, surveys the field. The pocket is beginning to collapse around him, but he stands in, finds his target, and launches a perfect pass to the left sideline where his speedy receiver Lee Evans has beaten his man. Evans hauls in the catch for 37 yards and a first down at the Jags’ seven yard line. On the next play, Edwards throws a perfect pass to the back corner of the end zone to rookie James Hardy, who was drafted to do precisely that.

Bills lead 17-16, and with one drive – really one play – took back all the momentum the Jags had built from the end of the second quarter up until then.

Confidence For a Reason

This Bills team is not just cocky, or delusional. They know they have a good team, and they are confident they can take the field and beat anyone they play, and they are doing it. Two for two so far. And as I stated above, these are two pretty good teams. Sunday’s victory was on the road against not only a playoff team from the previous year, but one who is expected to go pretty far into the playoffs this year. The other win was a blowout of another perennial playoff team, the Seahawks.

There is still much youth on this team. Youth means inexperience, and likely, fluctuation of results. Usually a young team will lose games they are supposed to and win games they might not be “supposed” to win. Perhaps these two wins are the latter? From what I have seen, I would say they are actually the evidence that what Marv Levy began building three years ago might actually be starting to blossom.

Could this be the year we see the fruit of Marv’s labor? Could this be the year Jauron gets a legitimate winning team and season? Many questions still after just two games, but as this short season has so far gone, the Bills continue to build confidence in their team. The next three games are against Oakland, St. Louis and Arizona. The Cardinals look a bit tougher than in recent years, but all of those games are “winnable” and if they keep believing they can do it, we may have ourselves an undefeated team going into the bye week October 12th!

There is much to do to get there, but this young Bills team seems both excited to, and capable of doing just that.

Bring on the Raiders!

AFC East Current Bills Players

Instant Favorites

The Buffalo Bills find themselves in a very interesting position. After only one week of the 2008 NFL season, they are now being tagged by many as the favorite to win the AFC East division crown, by virtue of Tom Brady’s quick and unexpected exit.

Just a week ago, most fans would give the Bills a bit of credit, putting them at second place in a division that clearly belonged to the Patriots. That was a decent acknowledgment of the Bills’ potential, but other than me, I can’t remember anyone saying (publicly) that the Bills even had a chance at the division title. Some have even said that just by adding Favre, the Jets are in the race, and could finish the season in that far away, distant – almost consolation – second place spot.

While, as a Bills fan, I appreciate the collective nod that the media pundits are giving us (as an aside… can we all PLEASE agree that the word is pundit, not PUNDANT or PUNDINT?!!) I would also like to throw out this bit of rational caution.

One man does not a football team make.

Yes, Brady is something like 100-27 in his ridiculously (perhaps illegitimate… video gate?) career as a starter for the Pats. And yes, he has led them to many Super Bowls and division and conference titles. Definitely a key piece of the puzzle. But I think we might want to slow down here a bit before just handing the Bills the title. There is still a lot to prove on their end.

The other piece of this is that the Bills just shellacked the Seahawks, 34-10, in their opener. It was close for a while, but then the wheels fell off in the third quarter for the Seahawks. (Thanks in large part to good play-calling, and execution, from the Bills.) They really looked great on all sides of the ball. Defense and special teams were stellar, and after a slow start offensively, Edwards and gang picked it up and scored 20 points themselves.

So the Bills looked great against one of the top NFC teams (presumably so) and their nemesis, Tom Brady, is now out for the year. (My bold prediction that the Bills would beat the Pats twice this year is looking a little less bold…) And now the Bills are the “favorites”.

All I gotta say is, back to back 7-9 seasons… Dick Jauron has only had one winning season ever… lots of young players… unproven should be the banner over the tunnel entrance to the stadium for the Bills. There are just too many questions to slap them up there at the top.

But I must admit it’s kind of fun, as a long-time Bills fan. Nice to see our team getting some respect again.

They started to earn it this week against Seattle, and it continues next week in Jacksonville. That’s going to be a stiffer test for our run defense, as well as our offense. Jags will be hungry, and we are “UNPROVEN.”

Time to start proving.

AFC East News NFL Players


Brett Favre is now a JETWhen I first heard the possibility of Brett Favre being traded to the Jets, I actually thought that was a very good fit. The team is similar in a lot of ways to the Green Bay team he played with last season. Very young, unproven talent… good potential. Maybe now that he really has been traded to NY, he can take the Jets to the next level?

Wouldn’t it be interesting if all of a sudden, the up-and-coming Bills and the Favre-powered Jets were not only competing with the dominant division leader, New England, but actually ended up 1-2 in the standings at the end of 2008? If Favre can play like he did last year, I don’t think it’s that far fetched. The games against the Jets are just a bit harder for the Bills now.

Will be interesting to see how Brett does in another jersey. (Best headline, from New Jersey For Favre. Ha! … the “NY” Jets play in the state of New Jersey…) 🙂 It won’t feel right at first, but will definitely add to the competition in the AFC East. Jets face the Bills first in 2008 on Nov 2nd, in Buffalo. I’ve mentally circled the date.

Welcome to the AFC East, Brett!


The AFC L-East?

It was another dismal showing for the AFC East division today. Miami showed a spark or two against the improved Browns (their own Ronnie Brown enjoying several productive moments on the day), and the Jets donning their ancient Titans of New York blue and yellow uniforms also made a play or two against the visiting Eagles… but in the end, both lost rather handily.

The Buffalo Bills were resting their weary bodies, glad to not add to the debacle that was AFC East football in week six.

Save for the division leading Patriots, that is.

The Patriots let the Cowboys hang around for a time, even allowing them the first second half lead of the season for any Patriot opponent. But it was very short lived, and New England ran away with the game in the fourth quarter, winning 48-27.

The Patriots are 6-0 atop the AFC East. The Bills are in second place at 1-4. The Jets follow at 1-5 and the Dolphins have yet to break into the win column at 0-6. So far in 2007, the Patriots competition is a combined 2-15. Ouch.

Is the AFC East the worst division in football? Every other division has at least two teams vying for the top spot, with the second biggest margin being two games. The Patriots hold a rather cozy 4.5 game lead in their division race. After only six weeks???

It’s hard to argue that New England is the class of the league right now. They defeated one of only three previously undefeated teams in the NFL on Sunday, and they made it look rather easy.

The Patriots have scored 230 points in six games, which is 138 more than their opponents have scored on them. They have scored no less than 34 points in each game, while the most any other AFC East team has mustered is 31.

Tom Brady has thrown 21 touchdown passes in that span, which is 6 more than the combined total of six other QBs from AFC East teams! (J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Trent Green and Cleo Lemon have a total of 15.)

The Patriots looked good on paper heading into the 2007 season, and they are proving to actually be even more frightening after watching them play just six games so far this year. Providing they can stay healthy, this team will be nearly impossible to beat.

Now with only two remaining undefeated teams, the stage is set for an even more enticing “game of the year” on November 4th. The Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts will host the New England Patriots—just as they did in last year’s AFC championship game—for major bragging rights, and maybe the Patriots only real remaining challenge to a perfect season.

Well, there it was. I said it. It’s only been six weeks, and I’ve brought up the undefeated angle. I’m sure I’m not the first, and I know I won’t be the last. Read on…

Indianapolis faces a tough game next week on the road at division rival Jacksonville. Indy has lost to the Jaguars, and that will certainly be a very difficult opponent. They then play Carolina on the road before coming home to face New England. Both games could be a challenge, but I’d expect Indy to come out on top, and be 7-0 when they face the Patriots.

The Patriots, on the other hand, have a bit of an easier road. Next week they face the winless Miami Dolphins in Miami, and then come home to face the Washington Redskins. Washington iscurrently 3-2, and may pose a bit of a threat to New England (who might be looking ahead to their rematch with Indianapolis) but I would also expect New England to escape unscathed to enter the Indianapolis game at 8-0.

If New England can atone for the loss to the Colts last year, and move on to 9-0, their remaining schedule seems almost too easy. They travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills (whom they have completely dominated winning all but one of the last fifteen or sixteen games), followed by games against Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, NY Jets, Miami, and NY Giants. Four of those are home games, with the only road games being against Baltimore and the Giants. Assuming home field advantage means something, New England has a seemingly easy path to an undefeated season, with six of their wins coming against their own division.

Which brings me back to my original question. Is the AFC East as bad as they seem, or are the Patriots simply that good… making the rest seem vastly inferior by contrast. Maybe it’s a little of both, but my money’s on the Patriots being that good. (Figuratively, of course.) And they even have a few injuries at the moment. They will only get better.

With the state of the AFC East, the 2007 NFL season could see two very rare occurrences, both from the same division. New England has a good chance to go undefeated, while the Miami Dolphins have almost as good a chance of going winless. We’re too early to say that, but it’s quite clear to this writer that while the Patriots may face a challenge or two on their remaining schedule, it will not likely come from within their division.

If the Patriots do complete a perfect season, they can thank their opponents in the AFC L-East for six of those sixteen wins. They don’t appear to be offering much resistance.

AFC East Current Bills Players

2: Moss & Chambers & Coles… Oh My!

(Counting down to Opening Day at The Ralph, I’m going to highlight four critical questions facing the Bills as we head into the 2007 season. This is the third of four articles, focusing on our defensive backs.)

Randy Moss joins the AFC EastWhen I visited training camp this summer, one of the things I noticed in person, and perhaps even more on the printed roster, was the size of our football team. Or, more precisely, the lack of size. Aside from our behemoth offensive line, led by 6’8″ 366 pound Langston Walker, our team is definitely on the lighter side of the NFL.

One of the more noticeable positions is defensive back. Our CBs are all either 5’9″ or 5’11”. Donte Whitner is 5’10”. Our tallest DB, Ko Simpson, is 6’1″. Jim Leonhard is only 5’8″ and 185lbs!! These guys are not that beefy, either. McGee is the heftiest at CB – 198lbs. Our safeties are just over 200lbs.

But does that matter, if they can play the position well? I think it might.

When you look at our division, what do you see? Randy Moss of the Pats at 6’4″ certainly stands out. But there are other star receivers who have a slight height edge on our DBs, and an even bigger apparent edge. Chris Chambers of the Dolphins knows how to make us look pretty bad, and Laveranues Coles does a fine job as well.

At the end of last season, when we all knew Nate Clements would be finding a new place to play cornerback, I said on our show that the scariest position to me was our defensive backfield. I just didn’t know who we were going to put back there. And to tell the truth, after watching this pre-season… I’m still pretty concerned.

Terrence McGee is a fine athlete, and will get his share of INTs. But is he a solid, every down CB? Jason Webster has some experience in the NFL, but I’m still not convinced that he is a good answer for Clements’ replacement. Then we have some decent depth guys, Jabari Greer – who had a great pre-season – Kiwuakee Thomas, and Ashton Youboty – who to this point, still only has “promise”. Is that roster of guys going to be enough to stop Moss, and Chambers, and Coles?

Brady, Pennington, and maybe even Trent Green must be at least a little excited to go up against this very green unit. There are ten DBs on the roster, and the average experience is 3.4 years, bumped up by two guys entering their 8th year in the league. (Webster and Thomas.) The most experienced safety is Jim Leonhard, entering his third year in the NFL.

This is definitely a BIG question entering the 2007 season. One to which I do not have an answer. We hope the front seven can put enough pressure on the QB to give the DBs a bit of a break, but other than that, we’ll just have to see.

Moss, and Chambers, and Coles… Oh My!!!

Tomorrow: Question #1 – “Are We Too Young?”