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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Sanchez’

Tom Brady

Expect a big game from Tom Brady against the Jets Sunday afternoon.

Ladies and gentlemen…get ready for your main event!  The Jets and Patriots have been battling through the media since the preseason.  They’ve also met twice on the field with each team winning at home.  They most recently met in week 13 in a game that was never close.  Everything went against the Jets and the Patriots crushed them 45-3 in Gillette Stadium.  But they have split their last six games.

The Jets come into this battle off an excellent wild card win over the Colts in Indianapolis.  Rex Ryan shockingly called off the dogs, not turning on the blitz and dropping linebackers into coverage.  The Jets cranked up the running game gaining 169 yards on 38 carries.  Mark Sanchez didn’t play well but it did not end up costing New York.

New England was the best team in the NFL this season, winning 14 games and racking up 518 points, almost 100 more than the next best team.  The Patriots young defense struggled against the pass early in the season but has improved by leaps and bounds in the second half of 2010.  Tom Brady had an MVP season and the offense featured a number of new weapons with no weak link.

The Jets win if: They adequately cover the Patriots’ tight ends and backs.  New England is deadly with the underneath and delayed running back routes.  It is not the Jets’ strong suit but they are going to have to shut down the tight ends and backs as much as possible.

The Patriots win if: They can stop the Jets running game.  They cannot depend on as many things going wrong for New York as did in the week 13 game.  The defense needs to be stout and stack up the run, forcing Sanchez into third and longs.

Who do I like: Patriots 27-17

Why: After all the talking this week the Patriots will be ultra-motivated to beat the Jets, not that they need to be to beat New York.  I think the Jets will slow them down a bit but Brady will dink and dunk his way down the field on long drives with lots of passes.  I think Ryan’s best play this week will again be to drop more ‘backers into coverage.  I also think New England will force Sanchez into difficult situations and bring different looks to confuse him.

I definitely like New England by a big margin in this playoff matchup.  Let me know who you think will win and why in the comments section below.

Photo source: americanistadechiapas

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With NFL playoff berths on the line, week 16 was absolutely critical for teams that hoped to compete in the postseason.  Some squads stepped up (Packers, Bears, Chiefs and Rams) and others fell on their face (Chargers and Jaguars).  Let’s take a look at the performances I thought were most noteworthy.

Here are the Average Guy NFL Week 16 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 45-17 over the New York Giants

Lambeau Field

The Packers need to beat the Bears in Lambeau next week to sew up a playoff berth.

Most Important Win

St. Louis Rams – 25-17 over their division rival San Francisco 49ers

Worst Loss

San Diego Chargers – 20-34 at Cincinnati Bengals

Biggest Surprise

Detroit Lions

Biggest Disappointment

Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive MVP

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 25 completions 37 attempts 404 yards 4 TDs 139.9 QB rating 2 carries 26 yards

Defensive MVP

Chris Harris, Chicago Bears – 1 interception 1 fumble recovery 11 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders – 99-yard kickoff return for TD 5 kickoff returns 188 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals – 16 completions 21 attempts 269 yards 4 TDs 157.2 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Eli Manning, New York Giants – 17 completions 33 attempts 301 yards 2 TDs 4 interceptions 63.6 QB rating

Offensive Rookie

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – 28 completions 37 attempts 292 yards 1 TD 107.0 QB rating fumble lost

Defensive Rookie

Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs – 54-yard interception return for a TD 4 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers – 6 receptions 122 yards 1 TD

Quick Takes

  • I watched the entire Jets-Bears game today.  It was an excellent matchup but I was surprised that it turned into shootout.  I expected much more of a defensive battle. 
  • The Bears started with a lot of momentum and took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.  The Jets owned the second quarter, scoring 24 points and taking a 24-17 lead into halftime.
  • Jay Cutler was on fire in the third quarter, throwing three touchdowns and propelling the Bears to a 38-31 lead.  But then the defenses stepped up in the fourth quarter.  The only scoring was a field goal by the Jets.  It wasn’t enough, and the Bears got a big victory over the team that just won in Pittsburgh last week.
  • Mark Sanchez looked good today.  His throws were crisp and he was making good, quick decisions.  The Jets also did a good job integrating the Wildcat into the offensive game plan.  On defense, they really struggled to generate a pass rush without major blitzes.
  • The Bears offensive line has really improved.  They did a good job of protecting Cutler and giving him time to make his throws.
  • Of course, while I was watching that game I was tracking the 49ers-Rams game on the computer.  I was psyched when the Rams got off to a good start but they let up the two big plays and made it too close.  It’s always great to beat the Niners, but especially today with everything that was on the line. 
  • I really hope the Rams can win in Seattle next weekend for the obvious reason that I’d love to see them win the division and make the playoffs but also because I think it’s important for the NFC West winner to at least have a .500 record.
  • What a strange week this will be – with the rescheduling of the Vikings-Eagles game there will be NFL games on five days in week 16 – Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
  • Couldn’t believe it when I heard on the Giants-Packers telecast that Eli Manning has 29 turnovers this season.
  • A couple of other considerations for Offensive MVP this week – Matt Cassel and Matt Forte were also very impressive – but I had to go with Rodgers.
  • Jeez, the Patriots are good enough, but when you give up seven turnovers how in the world can you expect to compete Buffalo?

One BIG Question

After the last two weeks will the Giants have anything left to give next Sunday?

Let me know what sticks out to you about week 16 by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Brian Giesen

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The two teams with the best records in the AFC, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, will go to battle in a critical Monday night tilt that could determine home field advantage in the conference.  Something has to give as the Jets bring their 5-0 road record to Gillette Stadium where the Patriots are 5-0.

Gillette Stadium Sign

Gillette Stadium will be rockin' on Monday night

It was nearly three months ago when New York scored an impressive victory over New England with a well-balanced attack in New Meadowlands Stadium.  A lot has happened since then.  The Jets have won eight of their last nine games.  They’ve been strong running the ball, ranking second in the NFL in rushing yards, and defending the run, ranking fourth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.  But somewhat surprisingly they rank only 12th in both pass defense and sacks.

The Patriots have also won eight of their last nine games since that week two matchup.  Of course, New England is also one major deep threat lighter since then.  Without the long ball being a factor, Tom Brady has been able to nickel and dime teams to death while BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead have given the Patriots good production from the backfield. 

The Jets win if: They can bump the Patriots receivers and throw them off their routes while generating a consistent pass rush that pressures Brady into hurrying his passes.

The Patriots win if: The defense can stop the Jets running game.  In their only loss since week two the Patriots were gouged early and often by the Browns on the ground. 

Who do I like: Patriots 24-17

Why: The temperature will be cold and snow may be falling in Foxboro.  We know that the Patriots know how to win in these conditions.  At home on a Monday night, with the world watching I’ve got to go with New England.  I think their very young defense is improving and they will play better than they did in the first matchup.  I expect them to crowd the line on early downs to stop the run.  I think they’ll change up their coverage and get enough of a rush on Sanchez to force him into a couple of turnovers.

Who do you like in this colossal battle?  Let me know how you see this game playing out by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Brian J. McDermott

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The NFL is a quarterback-driven league.  Most often, the teams with the best quarterbacks are the teams that have the best records.  This is especially true in today’s pass happy NFL.  In the past couple of decades it has been a very rare occasion that a team without a star quarterback has won the Super Bowl.

Lombardi Trophies

You need a great QB to win one of these

So at the halfway point of the 2010 NFL season what teams have gotten the most out of the quarterback position?

  1. Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning
    Without much run support and with an average offensive line at best, Manning has led the Colts to a 5-2 record while throwing 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions.  He’s also made the most of an injury-plagued receiving corps.  Even though he may have lost a tick he’s still the elite quarterback in the NFL.
  2. San Diego Chargers – Philip Rivers
    Although he’s not one of my favorites, Rivers deserves his props.  While his team has struggled to a 3-5 start he’s been steady, leading the NFL with an average of 331 yards passing per game.  Like Manning, he’s had to deal with a receiving corps that’s been decimated by injury.  Still, he’s put up the third best quarterback rating (98.9) in the NFL through the first eight weeks.
  3. Denver Broncos – Kyle Orton
    Orton’s been nothing less than spectacular for the Broncos.  He’s second to Rivers in averaging 314 yards per game.  He’s thrown 12 touchdowns with only five interceptions against defenses that have not had to respect the Denver running game at all.
  4. New England Patriots – Tom Brady
    Efficiency is the key for Brady.  He’s completed 65% of his passes.  He’s thrown 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions.  But, he’s averaging only 229 yards passing per game.  Maybe most importantly though he’s led New England to the best record in the NFL.
  5. New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees
    He’s thrown a frightening 11 interceptions but Brees has also completed 71% of his passes and has thrown a league leading 16 touchdowns while trying to make up for the loss of the Saints top two running backs.
  6. Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan
    Ryan’s quiet consistency has been a key to Atlanta’s 5-2 start.  He’s thrown 12 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 62% of his passes for an average of 245 yards per game.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles – Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb
    Combined Vick and Kolb have thrown for 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions.  They’ve completed nearly 63% of their passes.  Two of the Eagles three losses have come when one of the quarterbacks were knocked out of the game.  With two quarterbacks with such differing skill sets as Vick and Kolb it is hard to adjust the game plan on the fly if one has to substitute for the other.
  8. Tennessee Titans – Vince Young and Kerry Collins
    The Titans have not exactly been racking up the yards through the air.  They rank 24th in the NFL at 187.6 yards passing per game.  But Young and Collins have combined for 14 touchdowns and five interceptions while helping Tennessee start the season at 5-3.
  9. Houston Texans – Matt Schaub
    Schaub has been steady but not spectacular and has not matched up to his 2009 season.  He’s completing 63% of his passes but only has 10 touchdowns compared to six interceptions.
  10. Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco
    Playing against top competition gets Flacco the benefit of the doubt.  His numbers are just okay – 59% completion percentage, 10 touchdowns, six interceptions and 236 yards passing per game.
  11. New York Giants – Eli Manning
    His 11 interceptions send off sirens, but in fairness to Manning many of them went through his receivers hands or were tipped.  Otherwise, he’s completing an excellent 66% of his passes while throwing 14 touchdowns and averaging 255 yards per game.
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson
    Freeman has a very impressive six 4th quarter comebacks in just 16 starts, including two in a row.  He’s only thrown three interceptions to eight touchdowns while leading the Bucs to a 5-2 record.
  13. Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Cassel
    He hasn’t lost games for the Chiefs but he really hasn’t won games for them either.  He does have a respectable 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.  He’s only completing 59% of his passes though while throwing for 171 yards per game.
  14. Detroit Lions – Shaun Hill, Matthew Stafford and Drew Stanton
    The trio has combined for 14 touchdowns and an average of more than 250 yards per game.  To the negative they’ve thrown nine interceptions.
  15. Green Bay Packers – Aaron Rodgers
    It’s hard to believe that Rodgers could be this low but he’s thrown nine interceptions to only 12 touchdowns while completing 61% of his passes for an average of 251 yards per game.
  16. Cincinnati Bengals – Carson Palmer
    He was pretty atrocious early on but Palmer has rallied some through the middle of the season.  He has 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon
    Roethlisberger’s four game suspension necessitated the starts for Batch and Dixon.  Roethlisberger has played quite well but their production at the position in the first four games was putrid.
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars – David Garrard, Todd Bouman, Trent Edwards and Luke McCown
    This foursome has thrown 15 touchdowns while completing nearly 64% of their passes.  The key contributor of course has been Garrard who has completed 68% of his passes for 13 touchdowns.  But his interceptions are high (7) and his yards per game are low (157).
  19. Miami Dolphins – Chad Henne
    As he continues to find his rhythm with Brandon Marshall, Henne is developing into a solid NFL quarterback.  He’s completed 63% of his passes for an average of 238 yards per game.  Interceptions have been his achilles heel.  He has seven, compared to eight touchdowns.
  20. New York Jets – Mark Sanchez
    He’s a polarizing figure among NFL talking heads and Sanchez has probably seen more ups and downs than any other quarterback in the league.  His nine touchdowns to four interceptions ratio is good but he’s only completed 53% of his throws for an average of 194 yards per game.
  21. St. Louis Rams – Sam Bradford
    As I’ve written before, one thing is for sure, when he actually has some weapons Bradford is going to be nasty.  The fact that he’s led the Rams to four wins in eight games counts for a lot.  He’s already thrown 11 touchdowns.  His eight interceptions are not good nor is his 59% completion percentage.  However, much of that can be put on that receiving corps.
  22. Buffalo Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards
    There’s a lot to like about Fitzpatrick.  He’s thrown 12 touchdowns to just five interceptions.  He’s completed 60% of his passes for 240 yards per game.  But the outings of Edwards have to count here and so does the Bills 0-7 record.
  23. Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo and Jon Kitna
    Maybe this isn’t fair to Romo.  After all he did complete nearly 70% of his passes, threw 11 touchdowns and had numerous drops by receivers.  But Romo also threw some critical interceptions, Kitna has been less than mediocre and the Cowboys are 1-6.
  24. Oakland Raiders – Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski
    Campbell and Gradkowski have combined to throw 10 touchdowns and average 197.5 passing yards per game.  Their interceptions are high (8) and their completion percentage is low (54.8) but they have led the Raiders to four wins.
  25. Washington Redskins – Donovan McNabb
    It pains me to put McNabb this low but the stats are the stats.  He’s only completing 57% of his passes and has thrown eight interception to seven touchdowns.
  26. San Francisco 49ers – Alex Smith, Troy Smith and David Carr
    Across the pond the 49ers got a good performance from Troy Smith.  Alex Smith has been mediocre at best, completing 59% of his throws for nine touchdowns and nine interceptions.  Carr was predictably awful in a short relief stint.
  27. Seattle Seahawks – Matt Hasselbeck
    The Seahawks are 4-3 but Hasselbeck has played predominantly poorly.  He’s completed only 57% of his passes.  He also has seven interceptions to just six touchdowns.
  28. Minnesota Vikings – Brett Favre and Tavaris Jackson
    It’s hard to believe Favre is the same guy who threw 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions last season.  He’s already thrown 11 interceptions through seven games with only seven touchdowns.
  29. Cleveland Browns – Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme
    I’ve been saying this for years – Delhomme is just plain awful.  Wallace has been decent and McCoy has been okay in managing games.
  30. Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler and Todd Collins
    Collins set quarterback play back centuries in just one game.  Cutler has been brutalized but is completing 61% of his passes and averaging 247 yards through the air per game.  He’s evened up at seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.
  31. Arizona Cardinals – Derek Anderson and Max Hall
    These two have been atrocious.  They’ve combined to complete less than 53% of their passes and have thrown 12 interceptions with five touchdowns.
  32. Carolina Panthers – Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen
    After the past few years Panthers fans are used to poor performances at quarterback.  This season they are at an all time low though.  Moore and Clausen have thrown a league-worst 13 interceptions and have completed 52.2% of their passes, also worst in the NFL. 

What do you think of my list?  Who would you rank higher and who would you rank lower?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: daveynin

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Halloween was all treats and no tricks for me as I got to watch the Rams beat the Panthers.  It was the first time I’ve watched them since they beat the Redskins.  I saw a lot of positives and will share my observations below in the Quick Takes.

Let’s get right to the Average Guy’s NFL Week Eight Awards:

Waving the Packers flag

The Packers got a huge win on Sunday

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 9-0 over the New York Jets

Most Important Win

San Diego Chargers – 33-25 over the Tennessee Titans

Worst Loss

Dallas Cowboys – 17-35 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Dallas

Biggest Surprise

Oakland Raiders

Biggest Disappointment

Washington Redskins

They Are Who We Thought They Were

Arizona Cardinals

Offensive MVP

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – 9 receptions 101 yards 3 TDs

Defensive MVP

Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 45-yard interception return for TD 2 interceptions 5 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Dan Carpenter, Miami Dolphins – 5 field goals

Most Surprising Performance

Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders – 15 completions 27 attempts 310 yards 2 TDs 120.9 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Seattle Seahawks offensive line

Offensive Rookie

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – 25 completions 32 attempts 191 yards  TDs 112.4 QB rating

Defensive Rookie

Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions – 17-yard fumble recovery return for TD 2 sacks 5 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos – 7 receptions 169 yards 1 TD

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4 receptions 105 yards 1 TD

Quick Takes

  • From watching the Rams I can tell you that when he gets some more talented receivers around him, Sam Bradford is going to be unbelievable.  He makes good decisions, puts the ball where it needs to be, buys time by scrambling and exhibits strong leadership.
  • I was really impressed with the Rams defense.  It has improved quite a bit just in the weeks since the win over the Redskins.  Chris Long and James Hall are getting good pressure, the linebackers are reading plays quickly and the secondary showed some good one-on-one skill and an eye for the ball.  The only concerning thing was their two-minute defense, which gave up some big plays.
  • The tackling from both the Rams and Panthers was excellent.
  • Today was Isaac Bruce day in St. Louis.  It was great to a see a player who was one of my favorites for about a decade back on the Rams’ sideline.
  • This is now almost a weekly thing – I have to give big props to Steven Jackson for being out on the field and turning in an inspired performance just four days after having surgery on his left ring finger.
  • The two games that shocked me the most – Green Bay shutting out the Jets and Oakland blowing out Seattle.
  • I think the third down conversion statistic is one of the most important stats in the game.  Consider: Buffalo converted 11 of 23 third downs and almost beat Kansas City; San Diego converted on 12 of 18 third downs and beat Tennessee; and Seattle was one of 16 on third downs and lost to Oakland.

One BIG Question

Can Mark Sanchez find the form that helped him lead the Jets to wins over the Patriots and Dolphins?

What performances did you think were Sunday’s best?  Let me know by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Paul Kehrer

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NFL week eight has its share of good matchups.  I’m going to preview the three games I think are most important, but I also think it’s worth paying attention to these three in addition:

  • 4-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 3-3 Arizona Cardinals – I think the East Coast travelling to West Coast rules will apply here and the Cardinals will get the victory.
  • 4-2 Seattle Seahawks at 3-4 Oakland Raiders – It’s strength versus strength as Oakland’s 3rd ranked rushing offense faces off against Seattle’s 2nd ranked rushing defense.  I like the Seahawks because I think their defense will hold the Raiders to below 20 points.
  • 2-4 Minnesota Vikings at 5-1 New England Patriots – This game will get the most attention this week.  There’s a number of storylines, not the least of which is the return of Randy Moss to New England.  I think he could present trouble for the Patriots secondary but I’m still picking them to get the W.

Now, on to the third most important game of NFL week eight.

3.  Green Bay Packers at New York Jets
Sunday, 1:00 pm

Mark Sanchez

Will Sanchez and the Jets Knock Back the Packers?

No team has been hit harder by injuries than Green Bay.  They’ve lost two major pieces of their offense while also dealing with numerous injuries on the other side of the ball that have caused key defenders to miss games.  Despite all of that they are 4-3 and are coming off an important win over Minnesota.  At 5-1 the Jets have had an excellent season so far and should be mostly healthy and well rested after having their bye last weekend.  Right now I’d rank them as the top team in the NFL.  And this week Darrelle Revis has pronounced himself 100% healthy.

The Packers win if:  Their defense can slow the Jets running game.  Green Bay has struggled against the run and currently ranks 23rd in the NFL.  New York has excelled in the running game, ranking 2nd in the NFL.

The Jets win if:  They can get to Aaron Rodgers early.  The Packers have done a better job in pass protection this season.  The Jets pass rush has not been as explosive as last year but this could be their breakout game.  Rodgers will be Green Bay’s entire offense so him staying upright is critical.

Who do I like:  New York Jets 27-13

Why?:  The Packers were my preseason NFC Super Bowl pick but their injuries are just too much to overcome to beat the Jets coming off a bye week in New York.

Am I selling the Packers short?  Will the Jets easily handle Green Bay?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Photo source: Seamus Murray

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With three solid playoff contenders and quality skill players everywhere you look, the AFC East should be a fun division to watch in the upcoming NFL season.  I also happen to think that the Bills will not be as bad as many others are predicting. 

Division Winner

New England Patriots Receivers

"Moss run the fly...Welker button hook."

New England Patriots

I know the Jets are the trendy pick to win the division, conference and Super Bowl.  I can see the Jets making another run in the playoffs but I think the Patriots will win the division title.  I like Tom Brady to be fully recovered from his knee surgery.  I like Wes Welker coming back from injury and young receivers stepping up.  I like all the talent they added in the draft.  I like their front seven to pull them through on defense even though the backfield has question marks.  And as much as I can’t stand the guy, I think Bill Belichik will be ultra-motivated to return to prominence.  Plus, they can’t possibly have as many injuries this year as they had last year.

Most Valuable Player

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

The Tom Brady that so incredibly frustrates the opposition will be back in 2010.  While having a “down” year in 2009 he still ranked fifth in the AFC in quarterback rating, throwing for 28 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.  He’ll be stronger and more confident this season while working the ball to the open receiver after reading the defense perfectly.  Ugh!

Most Important Player

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets

Some would say the pick here should be Darrelle Revis because of the holdout controversy.  However, I believe the contract dispute will be resolved before the season starts.  To me the real key for the Jets will be Sanchez.  He matured in the playoffs and needs to continue along that path of development.  The Jets have surrounded Sanchez with more weapons and he must improve his decision making and utilize his backs and tight ends more when the receivers are taken away.

Offensive Player of the Year

Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets

The second year back from Iowa will start the 2010 season where he left off in the playoffs.  With the offense the Jets run Greene will get plenty of opportunities to show off his nice balance of power and speed. 

Defensive Player of the Year

Jerod Mayo, LB, New England Patriots

Mayo will be the key to what I believe will be a return to excellence for the New England defense.  Playing in the middle of the Patriots’ defense, Mayo is a huge talent whose leadership and ability to play every facet of the linebacker position well are critical components of the team’s success.  After battling injuries in 2009 I expect him to have a huge year in 2010.

Top Newcomer

Brandon Marshall, WR, Miami Dolphins

After inconsistent and uninspired play from the receiving unit the past couple of years the Dolphins decided they would take it no more and went out and got one of the top five receivers in the NFL.  Marshall is a huge addition to the Miami attack and should greatly aid the development of Chad Henne.

Top Rookie

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills

Spiller should be poised to help the Bills on offense and special teams.  With a solid backfield already in place in Buffalo (although Marshawn Lynch may still be traded), Spiller is likely to be used in third down situations.  But don’t expect that to mean he will not have the chance to be effective.  The Bills will surely use him in the short passing game and will also set him up for screens.  In addition, he’ll be another weapon in an arsenal of return specialists that will be among the most deadly in the NFL.

Most Improved

Aaron Maybin, LB, Buffalo Bills

A lot was expected from Maybin last year after the Bills took the Penn State product with the 11th pick in the NFL Draft.  The rookie defensive end struggled and didn’t record a single sack.  That will change drastically in 2010 as Maybin moves to the outside linebacker position and the Bills switch over to the 3-4 defensive alignment.  His explosiveness will make him a dangerous pass rusher coming off the edge.

Most Pressure

Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo Bills

While he doesn’t have the pressure of competing for the division or the playoffs, this is the last shot for Edwards.  He must show that he can effectively play the quarterback position and make good decisions.  If not, he’ll be looking at a career as a backup.

Biggest Loss

Joey Porter, LB, Miami Dolphins

Porter had 26.5 sacks over the last two seasons and served as a leader on the Dolphins’ defense.  He’s certainly getting older but the Dolphins have unproven talent trying to step into his shoes in 2010.

Who do you like to top the AFC East?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: the_junes

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