Tom Brady of the New England Patriots makes a call...

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots makes a call at the line of scrimmage against the Carolina Panthers on Aug. 26, 2016. Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka

A look at the AFC East heading into the 2016 NFL season, with teams listed in predicted order of finish.


COACH: Bill Belichick

17th season (187-69, . 730)

LAST SEASON: 12-4-0, 1st place

PLAYOFFS: beat Kansas City, 27-20, lost Conference Championship, 20-18, to Denver.

OUTLOOK: Tom Brady finally stopped fighting his Deflategate suspension, so he’ll be missing the first month of the season while serving a four-game suspension. That leaves the Patriots in the untested hands of backup Jimmy Garoppolo, who has never started an NFL game and has just 31 passing attempts in his first two seasons. The good news: Pats still have the greatest coach of this — or perhaps any — generation on the sidelines. And the defense looks like the real deal. Still the team to beat in the AFC.


COACH: Todd Bowles

2nd season (10-6, .625)

LAST SEASON: 10-6-0, 2nd place

OUTLOOK: Bowles did a terrific job in getting Jets to 10-6 last year, especially after navigating a locker room crisis sparked by IK Enemkpali punching Geno Smith out of the lineup. The question now is whether Jets take a step back with a much more difficult schedule, or whether Ryan Fitzpatrick comes close to producing career-year stats he had last year. It may be asking a lot of Fitzpatrick, who has far more difficult defenses to contend with, especially early in the season.


COACH: Rex Ryan

2nd season (8-8, .500)

LAST SEASON: 8-8, 3rd place

OUTLOOK: Ryan came to the Bills last season with all the optimism and hype we’ve come to expect from the boisterous coach. But after an 8-8 season, second-guessing from some of his key defensive players as well as plenty of fans, Rex has his work cut out in earning back trust. He thinks he has the team to contend for the playoffs, if not the division, but injury problems on defense, as well as the four-game suspension of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, won’t make it easy. The Bills believe they have their quarterback of the future in Tyrod Taylor, who inked a new deal in training camp, but it remains to be seen whether he’s truly a big-time passer.


COACH: Adam Gase

1st season

LAST SEASON: 6-10, 4th

OUTLOOK: They were mostly quiet on the player acquisition front this year, primarily because GM Mike Tannenbaum made such a splash last year with the signing of Lions free agent Ndamukong Suh. But Tannenbaum seems convinced he has a good enough defense to keep pace in a competitive division, and he took a flier on Mario Williams after the defensive end talked his way out of Buffalo. The organization remains committed — even if their fingers are crossed — to Ryan Tannehill as their franchise quarterback. Tailback Arian Foster can help his quarterback if he returns to form.

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