PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Patriots 14-2
2. Dolphins 11-5
3. Bills 6-10
4. Jets 2-14
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has not enjoyed the same level of instant success that other members of the 2012 quarterback draft class have enjoyed. Tannehill has completed 61.9% of his passes, thrown for 11,252 yards, and 63 touchdowns vs. 42 interceptions but his W-L record is 23-25.
In 2012, Miami finished 7-9 with 5 of their losses by 8 points or less. One of Miami’s wins that season was over the Russell Wilson led Seahawks.
In 2013, the Dolphins eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention and defeated the Patriots the following week to drop them to the 2-seed resulting in the AFC Championship being played in Denver. Miami was 8-6 and looking poised to make the playoffs. The Dolphins lost their final two games: a 19-0 loss at Buffalo and a 20-7 home loss to the Jets. San Diego claimed the last playoff spot with a 9-7 record. Had Miami finished 9-7, they would have edged out the Chargers for the AFC 6-seed due to beating them in Week 11.
Last season started on a high note with a 33-20 home win over the Patriots. Like last season the Dolphins were in the middle of the playoff chase heading into the last quarter of the season with a 7-5 record. Miami ended the season on a 1-3 run and finished in third place in the AFC East.
This season with their moves on the defensive side will be enough to push this team into a playoff appearance.
While the Jets welcomed back Darrelle Revis after his stint with the Patriots, I expect this team to be drafting at the top again next season. During training camp, quarterback Geno Smith was punched in the jaw by now-former teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali. For now the starter is Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he is a stopgap solution having recently played in Houston leading them to a 9-7 record last season. The Jets may have good receivers in Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, but their production is dependent on who is throwing the ball – Decker had Peyton Manning throwing him the ball in 2013 and last season it was Chicago’s Jay Cutler.
Now the Patriots… what hasn’t been said about them?
Even if quarterback Tom Brady sat out the first four games due to his involvement in the ball deflation scandal that has raised more questions about the Patriots’ dynasty, this team would have still made the playoffs. At worst the team would be 2-2 when Brady was expected to return. The nerds at FiveThirtyEight concluded that if Brady missed four games every season it would change New England’s playoff positioning three times: dropping out of the playoffs twice in 2005 & 2009 and dropping from the 2-seed to the 5-seed in 2013 costing them a bye week. Brady did not play in all but one game in 2008 and New England finished with an 11-5 record only to miss the playoffs due to tiebreakers.
The same nerds pointed out that what would hurt New England is losing draft picks which is what the NFL also imposed as punishment.
Last week a federal judge in New York overturned the Brady 4-game suspension. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL will appeal the ruling which they have every right to do so under our legal system. It is possible that this suspension could be tied up in the courts for months, if not years which by then the Patriots could be hoisting another Super Bowl championship and Tom Brady announces his retirement. If this case does end up at the Supreme Court, I would be interested in the oral arguments and reading SCOTUSBlog’s analysis on how the justices would rule. Is Justice Ginsburg a sports fan? Maybe Justice Scalia will include “pure applesauce” and “jiggery-pokery” in his opinion again.
What is not “jiggery-pokery” is that the Patriots still have Brady and Belichick at the helm. Even though Vince Wilfork left to go to Houston and Revis went to the Jets, this team is still one of the favorites to not only win the AFC East but also represent the AFC in Super Bowl