The Buffalo Payments are the reigning, two-time AFC East champions. They did not punt in both of their last two video games towards the second-place New England Patriots final season, which highlights the hole between the groups.
Can anybody catch the Payments? It is the highest query when assessing the AFC East in 2022.
The Payments, who have been 13 seconds from reaching the AFC title recreation, look as powerful as ever. Led by quarterback Josh Allen, they’ve largely saved their core collectively and are the No. 1-ranked workforce in ESPN’s offseason energy rankings.
The Patriots, No. 15 in ESPN’s energy rankings, had a low-key offseason after a flurry of free-agent exercise in 2021. They’re banking on continuity and inside growth to shut the hole.
The Miami Dolphins threw a firecracker into the AFC East combine once they traded for receiver Tyreek Hill and put their help behind quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. A training change — former San Francisco assistant Mike McDaniel was named head coach in February — additional highlights a brand new search for Miami (No. 18).
And the New York Jets (No. 29) have been extensively praised for his or her work within the 2022 NFL draft with three first-round picks (cornerback Sauce Gardner, receiver Garrett Wilson and pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson II) and a excessive second-rounder (operating again Breece Corridor) to help second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. They seem primed to make a leap underneath second-year coach Robert Saleh, however how huge will it’s?
NFL Nation reporters Wealthy Cimini (Jets), Alaina Getzenberg (Payments), Marcel Louis-Jacques (Dolphins) and Mike Reiss (Patriots) take a more in-depth have a look at every AFC East workforce.
Most intriguing place battle: Many of the beginning jobs are set, however with Tre’Davious White working his approach again from a torn ACL in his left knee, cornerback will likely be a place to observe. First-round choose Kaiir Elam and 2020 seventh-round choose Dane Jackson, who was stable in White’s absence final season, would be the starters at exterior nook if White is unavailable Week 1. If White is on the market, Elam must earn that chance to start out alongside him, with Jackson receiving loads of reward in current weeks.
Rookie more than likely to make an impression in Week 1: Elam. No matter White’s standing, the Florida product figures to see a excessive snap quantity this season, and it is attainable he would be the No. 1 nook towards the Rams in Week 1 if White cannot play. It does not get way more impactful than that.
Largest remaining want: Inside offensive line. The Payments didn’t tackle the center of their line within the draft, regardless of it being amongst their largest wants. Defending Allen is the highest precedence, so ensuring there’s loads of depth alongside the offensive line is crucial. The workforce signed veteran guard Greg Van Roten to a one-year deal simply earlier than the beginning of obligatory minicamp, however including extra assist could be sensible.
Largest division menace to the Payments: The fashionable choose right here is the Dolphins, however I will persist with the Patriots. The Payments have discovered the onerous technique to by no means underestimate coach Invoice Belichick, and Buffalo is 7-1 towards Miami since Allen arrived, profitable the previous seven conferences. — Getzenberg
Marcus Spears and Kimberley Martin react to Tyreek Hill saying Tua Tagovailoa is extra correct than Patrick Mahomes.
Most intriguing place battle: Heart. The Dolphins have publicly supported final season’s starter, Michael Deiter, however Connor Williams, who signed as a free agent in March, took the beginning snaps throughout spring exercises. Although Williams appears to have the within monitor, this lineup isn’t set in stone.
Rookie more than likely to make an impression in Week 1: None. Third-round choose Channing Tindall must work throughout coaching camp to crack the rotation at linebacker, and fourth-round choose Erik Ezukanma is a developmental prospect at vast receiver. Seventh-round picks Cameron Goode (linebacker) and Skylar Thompson (QB) are longshots to make the 53-man roster.
Largest remaining want: Time. The Dolphins addressed their most urgent points this offseason, including high quality gamers at receiver, operating again and the offensive line. Now these the brand new faces must be taught McDaniel’s offensive scheme.
Largest division menace to the Payments: Miami’s protection gave Buffalo bother for no less than half of each losses to the Payments final season. If the Dolphins put collectively four-quarter efforts, the hole is nearer than followers in western New York would possibly suppose. — Louis-Jacques
Rob Ninkovich takes concern with Bart Scott’s take that the Patriots will battle the Jets for final place within the division.
Most intriguing place battle: Cornerback. After J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers in free company, the Patriots signed well-traveled veterans Terrance Mitchell and Malcolm Butler, then drafted cornerbacks Marcus Jones (third spherical) and Jack Jones (fourth spherical). If spring practices are any indication, Jack Jones might make a run for a beginning spot reverse Jalen Mills.
Rookie more than likely to make an impression in Week 1: Cole Unusual. The primary-round choose (No. 29) was instantly inserted at left guard with the highest unit and appears like a plug-and-play starter just like Logan Mankins (first spherical, 2005) and Joe Thuney (third spherical, 2016) previously.
Largest remaining want: Linebacker. The Patriots have been lining up with Ja’Whaun Bentley and Raekwon McMillan as their prime off-the-ball linebackers in spring practices after surprisingly not drafting a participant on the place. Cameron McGrone (fifth spherical, 2021) and commerce acquisition Mack Wilson Sr. may very well be elements, particularly in sure nickel and dime packages.
Largest division menace to the Payments: It is the Patriots. As Belichick confirmed final season in an upset victory, he is not afraid to go the unconventional route and hold the ball on the bottom, which the Payments typically wrestle to cease. After all, it helped that there have been 40 mph wind gusts that day, too. — Reiss
Most intriguing place battle: It is Mekhi Becton vs. George Fant. What they’re competing for is not clear, which provides to the intrigue. Ostensibly, they’re battling for the left deal with job, however that plan might change earlier than coaching camp if the coaches resolve to maneuver one to proper deal with, a definite risk. It doesn’t matter what occurs, each will likely be beginning someplace on the road.
Rookie more than likely to make an impression in Week 1: The Jets have 4 rookies who might make an early splash, however we’ll go together with Corridor at operating again. He is greater, quicker and a greater receiver than incumbent Michael Carter. Make no mistake, Corridor will get the rock. The three 2022 first-rounders — Gardner, Wilson and Johnson II — additionally will get early possibilities.
Largest remaining want: Let’s go together with two — offensive deal with and linebacker. Although Becton is anticipated to be prepared for the beginning of coaching camp, it behooves the Jets to signal a veteran backup/insurance coverage coverage. Becton has a weight downside and a surgically repaired proper knee, not combo. And the linebacker depth chart is extraordinarily skinny after C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams.
Largest division menace to the Payments: The Patriots are ripe for a decline and the Jets are a 12 months away, so it must be the Dolphins. They’ve plenty of firepower on offense, however — sorry to sound like a damaged file — all of it hinges on Tagovailoa. He must be loads higher than common for the Dolphins to problem the Payments. — Cimini