In the wake of the four-game suspension handed out to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Monday, many are wondering how expectations will change in the AFC East and the conference as a whole. The Buffalo Bills finished in second place in the division in 2014, but per the latest projection from Football Outsiders, it'll be the Miami Dolphins, not the Bills, that benefit from the Patriots' quarterback situation.
FO's projection is an average of a large number of simulations, which encompass a wide variety of potential outcomes, which would obviously include the Bills taking the division. But more often than not, it was the Dolphins scooting ahead of the Patriots - their mean finish was 11-5, to New England's 10-6 - with the Bills a distant third at 8-8, two games better than the New York Jets.
Aaron Schatz, who authored the article, wrote the following about Buffalo: "The Bills last year had a bad offense and a great, underrated defense. Now that Rex Ryan is in charge, they are likely to have a bad offense and a great, properly rated defense." He cites Miami's being "essentially a good team dragged down to 8-8 by dismal special teams and a difficult schedule" as the root cause for the Dolphins' ascent in their projections.
And, yes, the article even calls the Dolphins a "hot sleeper Super Bowl contender for 2015," because it's still May, and Brady might not play in four games, and let's ignore the fact that that still means he'll be playing in a minimum of 12 of them - and two of those will be against Miami, while (probably) only one will be against Buffalo.
Is it September yet?