FanPost

The Draft Countdown: 3... The Three Divisional Foes

In preparation for the draft tonight I am rehashing some of the Bills’ needs, team goals and draft goals. The Draft Countdown Series has so far covered the following articles:

10: Top Ten Players of the Draft (UPDATED)
9: The Ninth Pick History
8: The Eight Teams Drafting Before Us
7: The Seven Free Agents to Target

6: The Sixth Playoff Spot
5: The Five Veterans to Decide
4: The Four Question Marks - Starters

3: THE THREE DIVISIONAL FOES

The AFC East has always been a tough division to play in. The decade-long dominance of the Patriots may be starting to wear away, but in the Bills will have to be able to defeat them more regularly, as well as winning against the Dolphins and the Jets. Given that six of the sixteen games (37.5%) are against division rivals, it is imperative that we win as many of these games as possible.

With this post, I will be breaking down the following: last year’s rankings, key losses and additions in free agency. I also threw in the Bills for a comparison.

Offense

Points/G

Yards/G

Rush Yds/G

Pass Yds/G

Buffalo Bills

21.2 (22)

338.1 (19)

144.2 (2)

193.9 (28)

Miami Dolphins

19.8 (26)

312.9 (27)

90.0 (26)

222.9 (20)

New England Patriots

27.8 (2)

384.5 (7)

129.1 (9)

255.4 (10)

New York Jets

18.1 (29)

318.1 (25)

134.9 (6)

183.3 (31)

Defense

Points/G

Yards/G

Rush Yds/G

Pass Yds/G

Buffalo Bills

24.3 (20)

333.4 (10)

128.9 (28)

204.4 (4)

Miami Dolphins

20.9 (8)

359.4 (21)

124.9 (24)

234.5 (16)

New England Patriots

21.1 (10)

373.1 (26)

134.1 (30)

239.0 (18)

New York Jets

24.2 (18)

334.9 (11)

88.3 (3)

246.7 (22)

BUFFALO BILLS (6-10)

First off, let’s look at our team to give you a sense of where we are; the big moves and needs of our boys. The Bills obviously have to contend with the loss of their founder & owner Ralph Wilson and will be looking for a new owner in upcoming months. In the meanwhile though, the Bills have been making a lot of moves in free agency, no dynamic signings, but a lot of decent ones. However, they did let Jairus Byrd walk unfortunately. Also new with them is the fact they will switch to a 4-3 dominant defense under DC Schwartz. To that end they brought in a few linebackers to shore up the run defense.

Offensively is where I suspect the Bills will be drafting high on especially to help our passing game. Having a (injured) rookie QB results in a bit of a learning curve, so better protection and receiving targets would help.

Losses: FS Jairus Byrd, DL Alex Carrington, LB Arthur Moats

Gains: WR Mike Williams, OG Chris Williams, CB Corey Graham, LB Brandon Spikes, LB Keith Rivers

Top Needs: Right Tackle, Tight End, Defensive End, Wide Receiver, and Free Safety

MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-8)

The Phish have been one of the teams showing development over the last few years. Fortunately, the Bills still have been able to show strongly against them. The Dolphins front office is a bit chaotic with some mixed success over the past few off-seasons. The news guys to watch out for are RB Moreno (he’s your de-facto starter) and OT Albert. The Dolphins still need another tackle after the whole Jonathan Martin debacle in the rebuild of their offensive line.

Miami has some rebuilding on their defense too given their losses in free agency. They are a good unit, but have to replace some pieces. Lastly, Miami could be searching for a kicker given the struggles of rookie Caleb Sturgis (Dan Carpenter’s last laugh!).

Losses: CB Chris Carroll, CB Dimitri Patterson, S Chris Clemons, DT Paul Soliai, OG John Jerry

Gains: OT Branden Albert, RB Knowshon Moreno, CB Cortland Finnegan, OL Shelley Smith

Top Needs: Guard, Offensive Tackle, Safety, Defensive Tackle, Cornerback

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4)

I hate Bilicheck and Brady. They have been two of the deadliest duos in NFL history and have dominated the past 14 years. They lost a bit of their luster thanks to injuries and free agency losses from last year, but still almost made it to the Super Bowl (again). This year, the Pats seem poised to strike again, but bear in mind some changes on their roster. First, despite losing the good CB Talib, they managed to sign CBs Browner and Revis (eat your heart out Stevie!). The big surprise for me was they failed to re-sign RB Blount whom as you may recall almost single-handedly beat us last time we played.

Some of the biggest questions for the Pats include: Will Gronk be healthy/at elite form? Who will become the Patriots playmakers? Can Jamie Collins assume a starting role at linebacker? And I suppose, can Brady keep dominating the game? The Patriots are still a good team, but they are getting older and until some of their younger guys do more, they may be more vulnerable. The Patriots time is over; it is our time now!

Losses: CB Aquib Talib, RB LeGarrete Blount, S Steve Gregory, LB Brandon Spikes

Gains: CB Darrelle Revis, WR Brandon LaFell, CB Brandon Browner

Top Needs: Defensive Line, Tight End, Center, Safety, Running Back

NEW YORK JETS (8-8)

The one good news about the Jets is that they may be more dysfunctional than the Bills. They swapped veteran quarterbacks, Sanchez for Vick for no real improvement (I’m not high on Geno Smith either). They also got Chris Johnson from the Titans, which does help their running game albeit very little. The one thing the Jets did right was to bring in Eric Decker from the Broncos. He’s a solid receiver (but not great) and will be a little bit of a challenge for Gilmore to cover.

From last year the Jets also decided to retain the services of head coach Rex Ryan. This is a make or break year for the defensive guru. Speaking of defense, the Jets still have a solid front 7 to watch out for including DT Sheldon Richardson.

Losses: OT Austin Howard, WR Santonio Holmes, CB Antonio Cromartie, QB Mark Sanchez

Gains: WR Eric Decker, RB Chris Johnson, CB Dimitri Patterson, QB Michael Vick

Top Needs: Wide Receiver, Safety, Quarterback, Offensive Guard, Linebacker

Go Bills!

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of BuffaloRumblings.com.

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