2005 Season Previews
AFC East
New England Patriots (Last Year: 14-2).
Major Additions:
QB Doug Flutie, WR David Terrell, WR Tim Dwight, WR Andre' Davis, G Logan Mankins, OLB Chad Brown, ILB Monty Beisel, ILB Ryan Claridge, CB Duane Starks, CB Chad Scott, CB Ellis Hobbs, S Antuan Edwards, KR Chad Morton.
Major Subtractions:
WR David Patten, G Joe Andruzzi, G Adrian Klemm, NT Keith Traylor, ILB Roman Phifer, CB Ty Law, CB Earthwind Moreland, S Je'Rod Cherry.

Offense This Year: Nothing but praise can be awarded to the Patriots. The offense is capable of being a physical, clock-controlling unit, as seen against the Indianapolis Colts. It can also be an electrifying, high-powered attack, as the entire city of Pittsburgh witnessed in the AFC Championship Game. It seems as though New England has no weakness. Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL. He is 57-14 as a starter, and is one Super Bowl victory shy of tying Joe Montana's four. Brady can hand the ball off to Corey Dillon, one of the top running backs in the league. Dillon, thrilled that he could escape the losing environment of Cincinnati, rushed for 1,635 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004. Brady can also throw it to receivers he can trust: David Givens, Deion Branch, Troy Brown, Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria. One new receiver, who could have a huge impact this upcoming season is David Terrell. Considered a bust, Terrell fled Chicago, where his best quarterback has been Jim Miller. Terrell, currently No. 3 on the depth chart, has been impressive in camp. Brady is protected by superb offensive line, which features four returning starters: left tackle Matt Light, center Dan Koppen, right guard Steve Neal and right tackle Brandon Gorin. Russ Hochstein, a valuable backup lineman for years, will take Joe Andruzzi's place at left guard. Brady was sacked just 26 times in 2004.
Defense This Year: Still the NFL's best. The Patriots have great players and tons of depth at every position. Defensive ends Ty Warren and Richard Seymour are spectacular -- they were a major reason why New England surrendered just 3.8 yards per carry. Another is Vince Wilfork, who was a first-round selection in 2004. Wilfork eats up opposing linemen, allowing the Patriots' superb linebacking corps to make big plays. Outside linebackers Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel combined for 14 sacks last season. Roosevelt Colvin and the ever-improving Tully Banta-Cain are reserves on the outside. Colvin is capable of registering double digit sacks -- he had 21 combined sacks in 2001 and 2002. Ted Johnson, an excellent defender against the run, occupies one of the inside linebacker positions. The other was maintained by Tedy Bruschi, who may not play this season after suffering a minor stroke in February. Bruschi will be replaced by former Pro Bowler Chad Brown and free agent acquisition Monty Beisel. Brown and Beisel are capable of stepping in for Bruschi, but the All Pro middle linebacker's leadership on the field will be missed. Two other leaders of the Patriots' defense are safeties Eugene Wilson and Rodney Harrison. Wilson is one of the premier free safeties in the NFL, while Harrison is known for his bone-shattering hits. At cornerback are a quintet of skilled players: Randall Gay, Asante Samuel, Tyrone Poole, Duane Starks and Troy Brown. Gay, who came out nowhere last season, is emerging as one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Brown, who plays wide receiver and corner, was impressive in coverage and is a great No. 5 cornerback. Chad Scott, who struggled as the No. 2 cornerback in Pittsburgh, should thrive as No. 6 on this roster. Told you they have a lot of depth.
Schedule and Intangibles: The Patriots are the best-coached team in the NFL. Bill Belichick is nearly unbeatable. He will take over as the offensive coordinator in 2005 for Charlie Weis, who is now the head coach at Notre Dame. Eric Mangini, the defensive backs coach who was responsible for the superb play of Gay, Brown and Earthwind Moreland, replaces Romeo Crennel as the defensive coordinator... New England has great special teams. Adam Vinatieri is arguably the greatest kicker of all time, Josh Miller is a fantastic punter, and Bethel Johnson is an explosive punt returner... The Patriots are unbeatable at home, possessing a pristine 19-0 record the previous two seasons... New England has one of the toughest schedules ever created. After an easy opener against Oakland, they travel to Carolina and Pittsburgh, host San Diego and go on the road to play Atlanta and Denver. Following two byes -- they play Buffalo week 8 -- they battle Indianapolis at home, and then travel to Miami. They meet the Chiefs at Arrowhead two weeks later. If anyone can get the Patriots through this hectic gauntlet of games, it's Belichick.

Analysis: The Patriots are clearly the best team in the NFL. They could be one of the best teams in league history. Barring an injury to Brady, New England will win its fourth Super Bowl in five years.

Projection: 14-2 (1st in the AFC East).

New York Jets (Last Year: 10-6).
Major Additions:
QB Jay Fiedler, RB Derrick Blaylock, RB Cedric Houston, WR Laveraneus Coles, TE Doug Jolley, TE Joel Dreessen, OT Ethan Brooks, DE Lance Legree, DT Sione Pouha, MLB Barry Gardner, CB Ty Law, CB Justin Miller, K Mike Nugent, P Micah Knorr.
Major Subtractions:
QB Quincy Carter, RB LaMont Jordan, WR Santana Moss, TE Anthony Becht, OT Kareem McKenzie, DT Jason Ferguson, OLB Jason Glenn, MLB Sam Cowart, CB Terrell Buckley, CB Donnie Abraham, CB Pete Hunter, CB Ray Mickens, S Reggie Tongue, S Jon McGraw, K Doug Brien, P Toby Gowin.

Offense This Year: The Jets averaged nearly 21 points per game in 2004, so scoring was not at a premium for Herman Edwards. However, there are three major areas of concern for the offense. First and foremost is Chad Pennington's shoulder injury. Pennington has not yet recovered from the injury that plagued him during the latter stages of the 2004 season. Although he has started to throw the football around, a semi-healthy Pennington could mean a drastic reduction of points scored by the Jets. Another problem New York may have with its scoring unit is Curtis Martin's age. Martin was the Jets' catalyst on the offensive side of the ball, as he rushed for 1,697 yards, becoming the oldest player to win the rushing title since Marion Motley in 1950. However, Martin just turned 32, and it's unlikely that he will have another season of similar success. The right side of the offensive line is another concern that the Jets have. Right guard Brandon Moore is a blue-collar player, but he is not a good pass blocker. The right tackle position is currently occupied by second-year Adrian Jones, who will be replacing stellar lineman Kareem McKenzie. If Pennington is healthy and Martin can repeat his 2004 performance, the Jets should be fine. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles is back after a two-year hiatus in Washington. Justin McCareins, Jerricho Cotchery and Doug Jolley round out the rest of Pennington's mediocre targets. The other three offensive linemen -- left tackle Jason Fabini, left guard Pete Kendall and center Kevin Mawae -- are all excellent players.
Defense This Year: Like the offense, New York's defense has a multitude of potential problems. Run-stuffing defensive tackle Jason Ferguson signed with Dallas, leaving the position next to Dewayne Robertson in the hands of former seventh-round pick James Reed. Rookie Sione Pouha is expected to eventually replace him, but how long will that take? It's safe to say that the Jets' fifth-place ranking against the run is in jeopardy. As is their ability to get to opposing passers. Shaun Ellis, who registered 11 sacks, is still in the lineup, but John Abraham is currently without contract. The Jets need to resign him if they wish to qualify for the postseason. Linebackers Victor Hobson, Jonathan Vilma and Eric Barton are all pieces of a very talented linebacking corps, led by Vilma, who made a large number of key plays last season. That said, the weakest part of New York's defense is its secondary. Top corner Donnie Abraham is nothing more than a No. 2 cornerback in this league. David Barrett should not be starting. The Jets selected Justin Miller in the second round of April's draft, but he is currently slated No. 5 on the depth chart. Miller has to step up and take over for Barrett by season's end. The safeties -- Jon McGraw and Erik Coleman -- make up one of the AFC's worst duos.
Schedule and Intangibles: Edwards is one of the better coaches in the NFL, but he would be considered a miracle worker if he got this version of the Jets into the playoffs... Clutch rookie kicker Mike Nugent will replace choker Doug Brien... New York needs to find a substitute for Santana Moss, who returned punts the past few seasons... Will the Jets fall back down to Earth? They had a very easy schedule in 2004, propelling them to a quick 5-0 record. Things will not be so easy in 2005. They play Kansas City, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Atlanta, San Diego, Carolina and the Patriots twice.

Analysis: There are too many concerns and potential problems for the Jets to make the playoffs, especially in an extremely competitive AFC. Edwards has his work cut out for him.

Projection: 7-9 (2nd in the AFC East).

Buffalo Bills (Last Year: 9-7).
Major Additions:
QB Kelly Holcomb, WR Roscoe Parrish, TE Kevin Everett OT Mike Gandy, G Bennie Anderson.
Major Subtractions:
QB Drew Bledsoe, RB Travis Henry, OT Jonas Jennings, DT Pat Williams, S Pierson Prioleau, S Izell Reese.

Offense This Year: It's certainly easy to give Willis McGahee all of the credit for all of Buffalo's high-scoring escapades late in the season. The Bills averaged 15.9 points during the first nine games of the season, in which they were just 3-6. However, McGahee was inserted into the lineup, and Buffalo went on a tear, winning six consecutive contests, before they were finally beaten by Pittsburgh in the season finale. The Bills averaged a mind-boggling 36 points during this incredible seven-game stretch. It's important to note that each of the Bills' six opponents during their winning streak -- St. Louis, Seattle, Miami, Cleveland, Cincinnati and San Francisco -- could not stop the run. In contrast, the teams that beat Buffalo early on -- Jacksonville, Oakland, New England, Baltimore and the New York Jets -- excelled at stopping the run. So, was Buffalo's late-season comeback real or a mirage? We will not find out, because rookie J.P. Losman takes over for Drew Bledsoe. Even if Losman is not a bust -- I think he will be -- it will take time for him to adjust to playing in the NFL, as Carson Palmer learned last year. It doesn't help that Losman's left tackle, Mike Gandy, struggles as a pass blocker. If Losman gets enough time, he should be able to find Pro Bowler Eric Moulds and the emerging Lee Evans downfield. However, opposing defenses will confuse Losman, which will lead to tons of fumbles and interceptions. The rest of the offensive line -- left guard Bennie Anderson, center Trey Trague, right guard Chris Villarrial and right tackle Mike Williams -- should be able to open running lanes for McGahee. Of course, it will definitely matter how good the opposing stop unit is against the run. It mattered in 2004.
Defense This Year: Buffalo had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, as they surrendered 3.7 yards per carry and accumulated 45 sacks. The former statistic may be in jeopardy, because the team lost run-stuffer Pat Williams to free agency. Replacing the mammoth defensive tackle will be Ron Edwards, a blue-collar player, who struggles against the run. Defensive end Chris Kelsay, who excels as a pass rusher, also has trouble wrapping up opposing running backs. However, that is where the negatives conclude for Buffalo's incredible stop unit. Behemoth defensive tackle Sam Adams and defensive end Aaron Schobel, who led the team with eight sacks, are great against the run. The Bills' back seven might be the best in football. Weakside linebacker Takeo Spikes is the best at his position; middle linebacker London Fletcher is a smart player, who can change the course of a game in an instant; strongside linebacker Jeff Posey can pass rush, stop the run and take the opposing tight end out of the game. Buffalo's secondary, comprised of corners Nate Clements and Terrence McGee, and safeties Troy Vincent and Lawyer Milloy, is one of the NFL's finest. The only problem with the secondary is the lack of depth it has at each position.
Schedule and Intangibles: Kicker Rian Lindell was just 1-for-3 from beyond 40 yards last season. Buffalo needs a better kicker. Other than that, the Bills surprisingly had great special teams. Terrence McGee returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, while Clements and Jonathan Smith each brought back a punt return for six. Five special teams touchdowns? That's almost unheard of... The NFL schedule maker didn't do Losman any favors. The young signal caller has to go up against Atlanta, Kansas City, San Diego, Carolina and Cincinnati this season.
Additional Reading: Handing the quarterback position over to Losman is a grave mistake.

Analysis: It's safe to say that Buffalo will struggle until Losman either matures into a capable quarterback, or gets benched in favor of Kelly Holcomb. If the latter occurs, it will be a long season for Bills fans.

Projection: 4-12 (3rd in the AFC East).

Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 4-12).
Major Additions:
QB Gus Frerotte, RB Ronnie Brown, RB Kay-Jay Harris, FB Heath Evans, OT Stockar McDougle, DE Matt Roth, DE Vonnie Holliday, DE Kevin Carter, DT Keith Traylor, DT Manuel Wright, OLB Donnie Spragan, MLB Channing Crowder, CB Mario Edwards, S Lance Schulters, S Tebucky Jones, S Travares Tillman.
Major Subtractions:
QB Jay Fiedler, FB Rob Konrad, DE Jay Williams, DT Bryan Robinson, DT Tim Bowens, OLB Morlon Greenwood, CB Patrick Surtain, S Sammy Knight, S Arturo Freeman, S Shawn Wooden.

Offense This Year: What is this thing called a touchdown? Don't blame Dolphins fans if they have forgotten. Miami averaged 9.2 points during the first six weeks of the season. They were able to score more than 20 points a few times the rest of the year, but managed just 10 against Cleveland, 17 at Denver and Seattle and 14 against the Jets. Miami could not run the ball, and consequently could not throw effectively. Ricky Williams retired right before pre-season, leaving a running back corps comprised of Sammy Morris, Travis Minor, Leonard Henry and Lamar Gordon. Neither of the four backs maintained a yards-per-carry average greater than four. In fact, Morris led the team in rushing with 523 yards. That will change. The Dolphins selected Ronnie Brown in the first round of April's draft. Whether Brown is capable of leading the team to victory depends on the offensive line, which consists of unskilled players and unworthy starters. Center Seth McKinney is inconsistent; left guard Damion McIntosh has had injury problems; right guard Rex Hadnot is a poor excuse for a starter; while Vernon Carey, chosen in the first round of 2004, has yet to secure a starting job. Left guard Jeno James and right tackle Stockar McDougle are solid, but two linemen just aren't good enough. After all, Williams averaged only 3.5 yards per carry in 2003. Making matters worse for Brown will be the fact that opposing defenses will place eight men in the box, forcing A.J. Feeley to beat them through the air. Feeley proved that he can win, as he went 4-1 with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2002, and was one of two quarterbacks to defeat the Patriots last season. Feeley has a great group of targets, including Chris Chambers, Marty Booker and Randy McMichael. The Dolphins will score more points than they did in 2004, but the rate of their success depends on the big boys up front.
Defense This Year: Like many other teams, Miami is switching to 3-4. Larry Chester is perfect for the nose tackle position, which will allow linebackers Zach Thomas, Jason Taylor, Junior Seau and Donnie Spragan to make big plays. Chester, along with defensive end Kevin Carter, should be able to engulf opposing linemen. Sounds like a good plan, right? There are some flaws. The most significant is the fact that the Dolphins are an old team. By October, Seau will be 36, Carter and Thomas will be 32, Taylor, safety Tebucky Jones and cornerback Sam Madison will be 31, and Chester will be 30. It also doesn't help that Seau, Spragan and defensive end Vonnie Holliday are no longer the players they once were. They should not be starting in this league. Another problem the Dolphins have is their secondary. High-priced cornerback Patrick Surtain was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round pick, because second-year Will Poole was a worthy replacement. However, Poole suffered a season-ending injury, leaving the job to either Mario Edwards or Reggie Hayward. Free safety Travares Tillman has poor recognition and is often in the wrong place. There is no depth behind either Tillman or Jones. Miami needs to get younger on defense. They have promising rookies Matt Roth, Channing Crowder and Travis Daniels waiting in the wings, but it may take some time for them to develop. It's safe to say that the Dolphins will not have one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Schedule and Intangibles: Miami is almost unbeatable in September. They are an amazing 31-12 since 1992. However, there is a steady decline in each succeeding month. In December, they are 26-30 during the past 13 years... The Dolphins have the fifth-best home record in the AFC since 1994. They are 57-30 since that year... Combine those two together, and Miami is nearly unbeatable in September home games, especially those that commence at 1 p.m. ... The Dolphins have one of the best special teams players in the NFL. Wes Welker returned a punt for a touchdown, and is capable of making bone-crushing hits when he doesn't have the ball. Oh yeah, he can also kick field goals should Olindo Mare get hurt... For a last-place schedule, the Dolphins will be battling a plethora of tough non-divisional opponents this season, including Carolina, Kansas City, Atlanta and San Diego. However, they also have the luxury of playing Cleveland, Denver, Oakland and Tennessee.
Additional Reading: Ricky Williams plans to return to the NFL in July.

Analysis: The line is a concern on offense; age is a concern on defense. By season's end, Dolphins fans will be concerned about whether or not they can land Matt Leinart.

Projection: 3-13 (4th in the AFC East).

2000 Season Preview
2001 Season Preview
2002 Season Preview
2003 Season Preview:
AFC East / AFC North / AFC South / AFC West
NFC East / NFC North / NFC South / NFC West
Playoffs / Awards

2004 Season Preview:
AFC East / AFC North / AFC South / AFC West
NFC East / NFC North / NFC South / NFC West
Playoffs / Awards / Simulation

2005 Season Preview:
AFC East / AFC North / AFC South / AFC West
NFC East / NFC North / NFC South / NFC West
Playoffs / Awards / Simulation

2006 Season Preview:
AFC East / AFC North / AFC South / AFC West
NFC East / NFC North / NFC South / NFC West
Playoffs / Awards / Simulation

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