2010 NFL Preview: AFC East Predictions

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady calls a play against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter of their NFL pre-season football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts August 12, 2010.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

2010 NFL Division Previews & Predictions: AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | 2010 Question Marks Series

The AFC East is arguably the most difficult division to predict because the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins all have enough talent to claim the top spot but all three also have huge question marks that could hold them back.

The Bills, on the other hand…not so hard to predict. (Sorry Buffalo fans.)

Here’s how I see things shaking out in the AFC East this season. Be sure to check out the link entitled “2010 Question Mark” under each team’s preview, which is a breakdown of one or two potential weaknesses that could derail that squad’s hopes in 2010.

1. Patriots

What to Like: Wes Welker is apparently healthy, which is a great sign for Tom Brady and the rest of the Pats’ offense. Although they failed to recapture the magic they had in 2007, the offense ranked third in the NFL in yards per game, sixth in total points and eighth in third down percentage. Along with Welker and Randy Moss, Brady will also have talented rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez to throw to in the passing game and Julian Edelman proved when filling in for Welker last season that he can be productive as well.
What Not to Like: It appears that the pass rush, or lack thereof, will be a massive concern all season. It was a concern heading into the offseason, it’s been a concern thus far in preseason and it’s going to remain a concern unless guys step up. Granted, Tully Banta-Cain is coming off a career year and rookie Jermaine Cunningham has potential, but Derrick Burgess needs to stay motivated and be productive. If he doesn’t and Banta-Cain can’t put up the numbers he did last year then Bill Belichick’s defense could suffer at every level. There’s also the very real concern that starting left guard Logan Mankins will skip the entire season because of a contract despite, meaning promising but inexperienced tackle Sebastian Vollmer will be inserted into the starting lineup.
Keep an Eye On: Darius Butler
In five starts last season, Butler had three inceptions and although he was inconsistent in coverage and needs to cut down on penalties, he could blossom into a star this season. He has already become a leader in the locker room.
The Final Word: Even though the offense stalled in the second half of some games last season, it will still be tough to stop this team a weekly basis. Plus, after struggling to a 2-6 record on the road last season, the Pats will face only two 2009 playoff teams away from Foxboro this year. In fact, six of the 2009 playoff teams they face this year will have to come to New England, which is obviously a major advantage. I think given the problems that the rest of the teams have in the division, the Pats will once again come out on top, although this is far from a Super Bowl team in my eyes.

New England Patriots 2010 Question Mark: Pass Rush

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NFL Reports: Revis deal close? Rice on IR? Daniels now 100%?

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17: Wide receiver Sidney Rice #18 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates while playing against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 34-3. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Revis, Jets close to deal
Dan Graziano of AOL NFL Fanhouse is reporting that the Jets and Darrelle Revis are close to signing a new contract. Graziano claims that an agreement could be announced in the coming days, although it’s important to note that the two sides were reportedly $40 million apart on Monday.

Childress doesn’t rule out IR for Rice
Head coach Brad Childress said on Tuesday that the Vikings won’t rule out the possibility of Sidney Rice being placed on injured reserve following the receiver’s hip surgery on Monday. At the very least, Rice is heading for the PUP list, which means he’ll miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season. If the team places him on IR (which seems like a stretch at this point), his entire 2010 season would be over.

Daniels gets good news on MRI
FOX 26 in Houston is reporting that Owen Daniels’ surgically repaired knee is 100% after the Texans’ tight end had an MRI on Tuesday. Daniels will still have a checkup with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, but it appears that he’ll be medically cleared to play by the start of the season.

Bulluck moved back outside
Just one day after I question whether or not Keith Bulluck was a good fit at middle linebacker for Perry Fewell’s defensive scheme in my “NFL Question Marks Series,” the Giants have decided to move him back to the outside where he’s played his entire career. (Obviously Tom Coughlin is a fan of The Scores Report and there’s little to no doubt I’ll be an adviser for the Giants in the upcoming months…ah, sarcasm.) Jonathan Goff will start in the middle for the Giants this season, although fourth rounder Phillip Dillard could get a look if Goff struggles.

LJ, “Fast Willie” on the Skins’ roster bubble?
According to Jason Reid of the Washington Post, it wouldn’t be a shock if both Larry Johnson and Willie Parker were released before the start of the season. Neither back has impressed the new coaching staff in Washington and Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams could wind up backing up Clinton Portis this year.

Darrelle Revis’ $162 million asking price is absurd

New York Jets Darrelle Revis runs back an interception 67 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers in week 12 of the NFL season at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on November 29, 2009. UPI /John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Darrelle Revis is a damn fine corner – the best in the league maybe. He’s also vital to the Jets’ success this season and he’s arguably the most important piece of Rex Ryan’s defense.

He has also only played one season (that being one, as in – only one) of elite ball, which is why the $162 million over 10 years that he’s asking the Jets to give him is absolutely ridiculous on many levels. (The $162 million figure comes from Newsday’s Bob Glauber.)

The Jets can’t fiscally give into Revis’ contract demands without sacrificing other areas of their team. They have an entire roster to consider – not just one player, a cornerback no less. Not to undermine the importance of the cornerback position, but quarterback is the only spot where a team should break the bank in order to sign or re-sign a player.

Last time I checked, Revis doesn’t throw the football.

Granted, the $162 million figure that Glauber is reporting may be off. After all, the $162 million asking price hasn’t come out of Revis’ mouth; we’re just going off of what Glauber is reporting.

Then again, Revis isn’t in camp and we’re only two and a half weeks away from the start of the regular season. The Jets have reportedly already offered $122 million (in a down economy, mind you) over 10 seasons and Revis has yet to sign. If he’s insane enough to turn down $122 million, then chances are he’s insane enough to ask for $162 million.

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Ryan has right approach with Revis – settle holdout face to face

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 14:  Head coach of the New York Jets Rex Ryan during warms up against the St. Louis Rams during their preseason game at Giants Stadium on August 14, 2009  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

While they’re both highly convenient, text messages and e-mails are often aggravating. Too many times the message or intent gets lost in the translation and sometimes people can walk away offended.

That’s why Rex Ryan’s proposal today in regards to Darrelle Revis’ holdout makes a lot of sense.

From ESPN.com:

“This is what I would like to have happen,” said Ryan, whose proposed plan was scripted. “Everybody put their cards on the table. Have Darrelle come here with anybody he wants. We’ll have Mr. Johnson here … We’ll call off practice. We’ll have our whole team there to meet.

“That way, there’s no he-said, she-said. Let’s work it that way. Maybe that’s how we’ll get a solution. Everybody wants a solution. Let’s figure out a way to do it. Maybe this is the way.”

In other words: Let’s cut through the crap.

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Jets should tell Darrelle Revis to ‘take it or leave it’

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Cornerback Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets runs after making an interception against the San Diego Chargers during AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

This Darrelle Revis situation has become like a bad movie that I just can’t stop talking about. I want to stop, honestly I do. But I can’t. I just can’t. I’m sick with it. So now I’m just going to give into it.

God help us.

Earlier today, head coach Rex Ryan essentially told the media that the Jets would be just fine without Revis.

“Don’t feel sorry for us,” the Jets’ coach said. “We have everything we need here on defense.”

“We have a great collection of individual talent,” Ryan said. “These guys will play great as a team. That’s what we’ll do. Obviously, Revis is a tremendous player. Ray Lewis, a tremendous player. Ed Reed, tremendous player. Kris Jenkins, too. But it’s about the unit, and we’ve been selling that from the day we walked on here.

“We can get it done,” Ryan continued. “We’re not afraid of anybody.”

Good attitude. Maybe the Jets’ front office should share in Ryan’s sediment and give Revis an ultimatum: Either accept the latest offer or sit out the entire year.

I’ve gone back and forth on this topic over the last couple of weeks, but I keep coming back to the same mindset: Revis is wrong, the Jets are right. The Jets shouldn’t have to pay for Al Davis’ mistake (and it was a mistake) with the Nnamadi Asomugha contract. Revis has every right to feel entitled to make more than Asomugha, but the Jets have every right to tell him to take what they’re offering or shove off.

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