I once did a post on all four NFC divisions. Rather than linking all four, I’ll just link you back to the East and allow you to follow the necessary links to the other divisions.
I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR YOUR SHENANIGANS, TIME TO GET THE AFC ROLLING. I’M BACK LIKE A JOHN GOODMAN CAREER RESURGENCE. I INITIALLY SPELLED RESURGENCE WRONG WHEN I STARTED THIS ARTICLE, THAT’S NEITHER HERE NOR THERE.
NEW YORK JETS
Will make the playoffs if:
Well first and foremost they need to resign Fitzpatrick if they want a chance. IF. THEY. WANT. A. CHANCE. I’m dead serious about that too. Fitzmagic had arguably the best season of his career last year too. While he had a nice bit of turnovers, which kinda falls along his M.O., he was very productive and took the offense to levels it would NOT have achieved under Geno Smith last season (Brandon Marshall DID have a lot to do with this). The Jets were the little engines that could last season. The Defense led the charge as the conductors, running Todd Bowles’ schemes without much hesitation. They finished the season in the Top 4 in yards per game allowed (318 ypg), Top 10 in points per game (19.6) and a +6 turnover differential. Fitzpatrick was the bolt in the rails that held the carts together and Chris Ivory kept the coals in the furnace for the engine. Ivory will be hard to replace, but Matt Forte should fill that role pretty well if not better, even at his age. The pieces are there to compete again, they just need a competent QB to piece it all together.
Will NOT make the playoffs if:
They don’t re-sign Fitzpatrick. Simple. There is not another QB on this roster who can actually take this team to the postseason. Again, Fitzpatrick is NOT an elite QB by any means, but he’s above average, and in the league’s current state he’s one of the best ones out there. You don’t let him walk for Geno Smith.
Why they will make the postseason:
Tyrod Taylor continues his growth as an NFL QB. From a raw talent standpoint he’s a great up and coming QB with the skillset to light up pretty much any NFL defense he comes across. When he gets outside the pocket he can make throws that very few in his position can make. He keeps his eyes down field and is sharp with the deep ball from inside and outside the pocket. Taylor’s biggest issue in the beginning of the season was his lack of pocket presence. This really showed against the Patriots in Week 2 when they essentially bottled Taylor into the pocket by never going any deeper than he was to keep from opening up lanes. It clearly made him uncomfortable. Taylor’s not quite at the point where pocket presence is his strength, he still has tendencies to drift inside the pocket instead of stepping into an opening. He also has a tendency to struggle with second and third reads if he really felt strongly about the first read pre-snap. That being said, Taylor is NOT the reason this team missed the postseason last year and he’s truly one of their best weapons offensively. That’s saying something because this offense is STACKED between LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay. In the draft they selected DE Shaq Lawson out of Clemson to replace Mario Williams, which is a slam dunk for them. Lawson will slide right into the Bills 3-4 defense as a run stopper with room to develop as a pass rusher. This defense is already stacked as is and includes a tough front 7 consisting of Marcel Dareus, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson and Preston Brown.
Why they will miss the postseason:
Rex Ryan. I think we can all agree that as a strategist he’s overrated and usually out gameplanned. He also tends to handcuff his offenses, he did it in New York and finally got himself a decent offense in Buffalo Year 1. Even then he has a tendency to want his offense to play it safe. Greg Roman has done a great job of letting Tyrod Taylor play within the reigns of his own game, something he let Kaepernick do while in San Francisco (even though it was Harbaugh running that show). As long as he continues to do that and isn’t handcuffed offensively they should be just fine. I can’t think of too many reasons why the Bills might miss the playoffs outside of a sharp decline from Tyrod Taylor or a complete mishandling of this offense. Other than the fact that they’re looking up at 2 teams in the division, which could very well mean they go 9-7/10-6 and miss the last wildcard spot.
Why they will make the postseason:
Tannehill’s career has been the definition of average, but there’s still a LOT of potential in him. Which is why the Miami Dolphins brought in Adam Gase in hopes that he could be the coach to take Tannehill’s game to the next level. A lot of the breakdown for Tannehill is from a mental standpoint when he gets hurried/rushed. He often cuts his dropbacks short, steps into pressure, or hesitates on pulling the trigger. As many sacks as the Dolphins have allowed, a large number of them fall on Tannehill essentially hitting the panic button. But there’s hope Dolphin fans: Gase might be able to communicate with the signal caller in ways that Philbin couldn’t. Time will tell whether Gase is truly a genius who can work with anyone, or if he’s had his name built up because of the fact that he worked with Peyton Manning. Miami’s other big issue is that Lamar Miller has left for Houston and they’re left scrambling to find an opening day starter. The current roster contains Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams, Kenyon Drake (R, Alabama), Daniel Thomas and Isaiah Peed none of whom (except Thomas and Williams) have more than 50 career attempts to their name. Jarvis Landry is one of the league’s most underrated WRs (because he’s on a routinely sub .500 team) who can break a game open and at least provides some kind of threat for this team offensively. He’s a versatile WR who plays more than the deep ball. Miami also boasts a pretty strong front 7 that includes the likes of Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh and Mario Williams on the front line, with a linebacker core anchored by Kiko Alonso. They should be able to create pressure upfront, which is what they need when having to face Tom Brady twice a year.
Why they won’t make the postseason:
The secondary is questionable and we don’t know just how far Tannehill will come. While the Dolphins can put the pressure on just about anybody, it doesn’t matter if their DBs are getting beat 2 steps into a route. Brent Grimes is gone, leaving Rashad Jones as the only reliable/proven defensive back on the team. While Byron Maxwell could very well redeem himself in a new system, and Xavien Howard may prove to be a solid pick, these two could very well be the reason for a lot of frustration for the Dolphins early on.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Why they will make….
Don’t even give me that. You know darn well they’re making the playoffs.
Why they won’t make the postseason:
- Tom Brady falls down a well
- Giselle tells Brady he can’t play football anymore
- Bill Belichick’s hoodie magically grows back sleeves and he loses all his mindcontrol powers
- The team hires MattyBRaps to perform at halftime. Season tanks immediately.
- Jimmy Garoppolo goes all Nancy Kerrigan on Tom Brady after going 4-0 as the starter, immediately gets hit with the Stone Cold Stunner. Stephen Gostowski steps in as QB
- Robert Kraft tells Tom Brady he’s not a fan of Donald Trump. The two get into it. Brady gets traded to the Orlando Predators for a gift certificate to Cracker Barrel, a used copy of Donkey Kong 64 and Tarvaris Jackson’s wife.