Major Additions:
RB Corey Dillon, TE Ben Watson, DE Marquise Hill, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Keith Traylor, CB Jeff Burris, CB Terrell Buckley, P Josh Miller.
Major Subtractions:
G Damien Woody, G Mike Compton, DT Ted Washington, S Chris Akins, P Ken Walter.

Offense This Year: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Most NFL teams fail to follow this mantra, resulting in underachievement. The Patriots have won two Super Bowls without a quality running back, which is why the trade for Corey Dillon seemed suspicious. However, some transactions that change the balance of a team seem too good to destroy it. The acquisition of Dillon fits into that catagory. Despite the pathetic platoon of Antowain Smith, Kevin Faulk and Mike Cloud at the running back position, the Patriots were 12th in carries, but only averaged 3.4 yards per rush. During his career, Dillon has gained 4.3 yards per carry. Having an explosive running game will only help the top notch quarterback in the NFL - Tom Brady. Look for more play-action from Brady, who will be throwing to a plethora of talented wide outs, including Troy Brown, David Givens, Deion Branch, Bethel Johnson, David Patten and tight ends Christian Fauria and rookie Ben Watson. Dillon will salt away large leads behind a stout offensive line in the fourth quarter.
Defense This Year: Other than run-stuffer Ted Washington, the Patriots have retained every player from their first ranked defense of 2003. Washington's replacements? Keith Traylor, another guy who can clog the middle, and blue chip rookie Vince Wilfork. New England has one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. The starting unit is composed of Traylor, Ty Warren and Richard Seymour. Backing them up are Wilfork, Jarvis Green, Marquise Hill, Dan Klecko and Rodney Bailey. The same can be said about the Patriots' linebacking corps. Back are the quartette of Willie McGinest, Roman Phifer, Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel, as well as reserves Larry Izzo, Ted Johnson and Matt Chatham. Furthermore, New England retains double digit sack artist Roosevelt Colvin, who missed the entire 2003 season. The secondary is New England's weakest link on defense, which speaks volumes, considering they have three Pro Bowl caliber defensive backs: Ty Law, Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson. However, Tyrone Poole was burnt to a crisp by Carolina in the Super Bowl. The Patriots did not do a good job finding a replacement for him.
Schedule and Intangibles: The Patriots are the best coached team in the NFL. Bill Belichick is a mastermind, while his coordinators, Romeo Cronnell and Charlie Weis are also brilliant. Something that New England must overcome if they wish to claim their third Super Bowl trophy in four years is the fact that since the Denver Broncos won in 1997, no Super Bowl winner has advanced past the second round of the playoffs. For a championship team, the Patriots lucked out with an easy schedule. Non-divisional opponents include: Arizona, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Additional Reading: Peyton Manning will be looking for revenge on Opening Night.

Analysis: New England is the best team in the NFL, hands down. However, recent history has shown that Super Bowl winners fare poorly the following season. The Patriots will make the playoffs, but they probably will not repeat as champions.

Projection: 12-4 (1st in the AFC East).


New York Jets (Last Year: 6-10).
Major Additions:
WR Justin McCareins, G Pete Kendall, LB Jonathan Vilma, LB Eric Barton, CB David Barrett, CB Derrick Strait, SS Reggie Tongue, P Toby Gowin.
Major Subtractions:
QB Vinny Testaverde, WR Curtis Conway, G Dave Szott, LB Mo Lewis, LB Marvin Jones, CB Aaron Beasley, S Sam Garnes, S Tyrone Carter.

Offense This Year: All hope was lost when Chad Pennington went down with an injury during a preseason contest last year. With Vinny Testaverde as their starting quarterback, the Jets started their 2003 campaign with four straight losses, averaging just 11 points per game in the process. Pennington breathed new life into his team when he returned, but he was not the quarterback who commanded New York to an 8-4 record in 2002. Pennington was a mere shadow of his former self, attempting to find his bearings after returning from a serious injury. The departure of his favorite wide receiver, Laveraneus Coles, as well as the lack of a consistent running game didn't help the situation. Now, there has to be tons of excitement among the Jets' faithful because Pennington is healthy and has a new target to throw to - Justin McCareins. He joins the improving Santana Moss and reliable Wayne Chrebet in a solid receiving corps. The running game is still an issue, due to Curtis Martin's perennial sluggish starts, but the Patriots proved that a running game is not necessary to win the Super Bowl. They accomplished that feat with an accurate quarterback and a dominant defense.
Defense This Year: Do the Jets have a defense that can take them to the Super Bowl? No. But, it will be improved over last year's dreadful unit, which was ranked 18th against the run and 31st in turnovers forced. The trio of Dewayne Robertson, Jason Ferguson and Josh Evans will clog the middle, enabling a new linebacking unit to make plays. Gone are old veterans Mo Lewis and Marvin Jones. New to New York are Eric Barton and first round selection Jonathan Vilma. Applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks will not be a concern. The Jets were one of the league leaders in sacks last season, because starting defensive ends Shaun Ellis and John Abraham combined for 19 sacks. If they are able to duplicate their numbers from a year ago, the Jets' secondary will not be slaughtered on a weekly basis. New York's group of defensive backs could be the NFL's worst. Aaron Beasley, Sam Garnes and Tyrone Carter have all defected to other teams, and have not been properly replaced. The Jets' starting secondary consists of Donnie Abraham, David Barrett, Reggie Tongue and Jon McGraw. Ouch.
Schedule and Intangibles: If the Jets didn't reside in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, they would have an easy schedule. Non-divisional opponents include: Cincinnati, San Diego, San Francisco, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Arizona.
Additional Reading: Chad Pennington gets a second chance at his second NFL season.

Analysis: A potent offense and a soft schedule should allow the Jets to reach the postseason. However, their defense will be their demise once they reach the playoffs.

Projection: 11-5 (2nd in the AFC East).


Buffalo Bills (Last Year: 6-10).
Major Additions:
QB J.P. Losman, WR Lee Evans, G Chris Villarrial, DT Oliver Gibson, LB Jason Gildon, CB Troy Vincent.
Major Subtractions:
RB Sammy Morris, FB Sam Gash, TE Dave Moore, G Ruben Brown, CB Antoine Winfield.

September 1st Update:
An extra win has been added to accommodate the downfall of Miami. Also, the effectiveness of Willis McGahee's rushing ability plays a factor into Buffalo's added victory.

Offense This Year: A blowout win against rival New England. Another rout at Jacksonville. Buffalo was the elite team in the NFL after two weeks of the 2003 season. Unfortunately, there are seventeen weeks in the NFL, and following their second win, everything on offense turned sour. First came Travis Henry's injury, which sidelined him for two weeks. During that span, the Bills lost twice. Next came the realization that Drew Bledsoe and company missed Peerless Price, who defected for Atlanta. Despite acquiring the starting wide receiver slot, Josh Reed only increased his yards by seventy over the amount he accumulated during his rookie campaign. Also at fault for Buffalo's offensive futility was a sub par offensive line, and most importantly, Drew Bledsoe, who held the ball too long and was a frequent victim of sacks and fumbles forced. Believe it or not, the Bills may have repaired everything this offseason. Last year's first round pick, Willis McGahee, is now ready to play. He will receive a few carries per game, but if Henry re-injures himself, McGahee can replace him effectively. This year's first round selection was Lee Evans, who unlike Josh Reed, has the ability to stretch defenses, creating one-on-one coverage against Pro Bowl wide out Eric Moulds. Chris Villarial is a new addition to an improved offensive line, as is Jim McNally, one of the elite offensive line coaches in professional football. Newly acquired head coach Mike Mularkey has worked diligently with Drew Bledsoe's release rate. Once Bledsoe takes his five step drop, he will immediately throw the football, which will decrease sacks and fumbles.
Defense This Year: Buffalo's defensive woes were absolved after acquiring Sam Adams, Jeff Posey, Takeo Spikes and Lawyer Milloy, after their unit allowed 24.8 points per game, which restricted them from the postseason. In 2003, the Bills finished second overall in defense. Sam Adams and Pat Williams clogged the middle; Buffalo allowed only 3.4 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Their ability to shut down the run will come in handy, especially since Corey Dillon has joined the ranks of Ricky Williams and Curtis Martin as AFC East running backs. Aaron Schobel and a speedy linebacking corps were responsible for registering 34 sacks, which assisted a strong, but thin secondary to shut down most passing offenses. However, the quartett of Antoine Winfield, Nate Clements, Lawyer Milloy and Izell Reese only tallied nine interceptions the entire year. In comes Troy Vincent, Buffalo's only major change on defense. Vincent, who has 42 career interceptions, will be replacing Winfield. Vincent is six years older than Winfield, but for the next two or three years, this swap will be considered an upgrade. The Bills should once again possess a top five stop unit.
Schedule and Intangibles: The Bills have a very balanced schedule. They will battle their divisional opponents twice, as well as Jacksonville, Baltimore and Seattle. However, they have some "easy" contests against Oakland, Arizona, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

Analysis: If the AFC East wasn't so tough, the Bills would be a shoe-in for the postseason.

Projection: 10-6 (3rd in the AFC East).


Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 10-6).
Major Additions:
QB A.J. Feeley, WR David Boston, OT Damion McIntosh, OT John St. Clair, G Vernon Carey, G Jeno James, CB Will Poole, CB Reggie Howard, S Antuan Edwards, S Chris Akins.
Major Subtractions:
QB Brian Griese, RB Ricky Williams, WR James McKnight, OT Mark Dixon, OT Todd Wade, G Todd Perry, C Tim Ruddy, S Brock Marion.

September 1st Update:
Adewale Ogunleye was traded to Chicago for Marty Booker. What Miami really needed was a running back. Sammy Morris and Travis Minor won't get the job done.

July 26th Update:
In a shocking turn of events, Ricky Williams has announced his retirement at the age of 27. Those close to Ricky, including Dan Le Betard of the Miami Herald, report that Williams was simply tired of football. He never enjoyed playing it professionally and has decided to pursue different avenues. Ricky Williams may now be at peace, but his happiness comes at the behest of the Miami Dolphins. Who will carry the football? Will the Dolphins now maintain a more pass-oriented offense? Will they even score points? Dave Wannstedt now has his work cut out for him. Travis Minor will now Miami's featured back, unless they decide to employ a running back by committee. Minor is not a major running back, which means that the Dolphins might be selecting one as a top ten draft selection come April.

Offense This Year: When an offense revolves around a running back who only manages to gain 3.5 yards per carry, something is wrong. In this case, Miami's offensive line was at fault. Despite acquiring rookie Vernon Carey, Jeno James and the often-injured Damion McIntosh, the 2004 version of the offensive line will be inferior to the cast of 2003. Book end tackles Mark Dixon and Todd Wade are both gone, as well as Todd Perry and long-time center Tim Ruddy. Currently slated to start are Seth McKinney, Greg Jerman and John St. Clair. Ricky Williams' running woes will continue. What's worse is the addition of David Boston. Although he is one of the most gifted athletes in the NFL, Boston has a knack for destroying locker room chemistry. Just ask Drew Brees and the Chargers. Randy McMichael, one of the better tight ends in professional football, could be facing up to 15 years in prison, after hitting his pregnant wife in June. If Boston is off his game, that only leaves Chris Chambers in a thin receiving corps. At least a talented quarterback will be throwing the football to him. One of two positives this offseason was the trade for A.J. Feeley, who has a stronger and more accurate arm than incumbent signal caller Jay Fiedler. Feeley is a winner; he has the potential to become Miami's version of Tom Brady. However, Brady has never dealt with the offseason troubles that the Dolphins have encountered.
Defense This Year: Another ongoing dilemma is Adewale Ogunleye's situation. The double digit sack artist is planning to hold out for ten games, unless he is paid Jevon Kearse type money. The Dolphins are refusing to pay him, which means 32 year old Jay Williams will start at defensive end. In nine career seasons, Williams has only registered 21 sacks; 6 more than Ogunleye tallied... in 2003. Jason Taylor, as well as a linebacking unit, consisting of Morlon Greenwood, Zach Thomas and Junior Seau will still be able to pressure opposing quarterbacks, but the defense will not be able to carry the Dolphins to a Super Bowl, unlike the Ravens of 2000 and the Buccaneers of 2002. The other positive this offseason for Miami were the acquisitions of defensive backs Will Poole and Antuan Edwards, which adds speed to a slow secondary. The Dolphins will continue to be stout against the run (they were ranked 2nd in 2003), but the absence of Adewale Ogunleye does not bode well for this defensive minded team.
Schedule and Intangibles: Dave Wannstedt is one of the worst coaches in the NFL. He will be fired if he does not make the playoffs this year. Miami is almost unbeatable in September. They are an amazing 31-9 since 1992. However, there is a steady decline in each succeeding month. In December, they are 24-27 during the last eleven years. Miami faces a daunting schedule. There are a few Cincinnatis and Pittsburghs on the slate, but their non-divisional opponents include: Tennessee, St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and Denver. Of course, the Fins have to deal with Buffalo, New England and the Jets twice.
Additional Reading: Will the Miami Dolphins qualify for the playoffs with the help of new quarterback A.J. Feeley?

Analysis: A.J. Feeley is a winner, but he is surrounded by losers. If Miami played in a different division, their playoff aspirations could come to fruition, but all of these offseason distractions could be a recipe for disaster.

Projection: 5-11 (4th in the AFC East).


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