Did you hear? There's a new quarterback in the AFC East, a 38-year-old gunslinger who takes his country-boy ways to the New York area, trying to add to the many sports legends who have shined under the bright lights.
His name is Brett Favre, a passer who seems to make hearts melt, especially among many in the national media.
What's lost in all the excitement of Favre coming to the New York Jets, forgotten in the hope that he can bring the Jets to the Super Bowl, are two very important things: One is his age and possible deterioration of his game. The second is far more of a detriment to the Jets' Super dreams.
It's the New England Patriots.
Do you really think bringing Favre to New York puts the Jets on the same level as the Patriots? Think again. The Patriots are by far the class of this division.
Tom Brady vs. this Brett Favre?
That's like Tito Ortiz vs. Pete Prisco -- a knockout.
Brady is coming off a record-breaking season. He threw 50 touchdown passes and led New England to an 18-0 record before they choked away perfection in the Super Bowl as 12-point favorites in losing to the New York Giants.
Aside from a minor leg injury that forced him out in the preseason, what's to think Brady to Randy Moss and Wes Welker will slow down in 2008? Moss and Welker were new to the team last season. Now there is familiarity.
"Last year when we broke the huddle, guys were running to the right or the left because that is where they had to go," Brady said. "They were trying to figure out how to run the routes and find out what I am looking for.
"Now when we get in the huddle, I tell Randy what to do and he knows exactly what you are going to do. It is the same with Wes and Jab (Jabar Gaffney). It is pretty much everybody. That leads to better execution and if you can execute more consistently then that will help over the long term."
If Laurence Maroney can provide more in the run game, the offense might be even better. It might not put up as many crazy numbers, but the balance of the running game might make it better.
|Predicted Order of Finish|
|1. Patriots||2008 standings: 11-5|
|2. Dolphins||2008 standings: 11-5|
|3. Jets||2008 standings: 9-7|
|4. Bills||2008 standings: 7-9|
On defense, the Patriots have looked slow at times the past few seasons. And old and slow will always show.
That's why adding first-round pick Jerod Mayo to the defense is big. He can run. Getting defensive end Richard Seymour back healthy again is key. Seymour is one of the best when he's healthy, but he was troubled by injuries in 2007 and it showed.
History indicates Super Bowl losers struggle the next season. That won't be the case for the Patriots.
They, not that team with the 38-year-old quarterback, are the team to beat in this division -- by a lot.
Significant additions: CB Fernando Bryant, LB Victor Hobson, S John Lynch, ILB Mayo.
Significant subtractions: CB Asante Samuel, WR Donte' Stallworth, CB Randall Gay.
Biggest offseason move: Losing Samuel. He was their best corner and will be tough to replace.
Will go to the playoffs if ... Brady stays upright.
Rookie to watch: Mayo is perfect for this 3-4 scheme. The veterans are raving about his ability to pick up the defense.
Overview: Will they win 18 in a row again? Not likely. But this is still one of the teams to beat in the AFC. The offense was outstanding last season, and there's no reason it won't be again. They do have to run the ball better. They've added some much-needed speed on defense, especially with Mayo, and that will show up. Having a healthy Seymour will be big for the defense as well. They'll be around in the end again, quite possibly in Tampa.
Significant additions: DT Marcus Stroud, OLB Kawika Mitchell, CB William James, CB Leodis McKelvin, WR James Hardy.
Who will win the AFC East?
Total Votes: 50,141
Significant subtractions: DT Larry Tripplett, WR Peerless Price, CB Jason Webster.
Biggest offseason move: Trading to get Stroud. He will beef up their run defense.
Will go to the playoffs if ... Trent Edwards takes the next step at quarterback.
Rookie to watch: Hardy. He is a big target who can help take the pressure off Lee Evans on the other side.
Overview: The Bills will be a better football team in 2008 than a year ago. How much better depends on where Edwards goes as a quarterback. If he can throw for 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, the Bills might make the playoffs. If not, they will be an 8-8 team. The defense, with the additions of Stroud and Mitchell and the return of Paul Posluszny from injury will be better. It's too bad they play in the same division as the Patriots.
Significant additions: QB Favre, G Alan Faneca, NT Kris Jenkins, OLB Calvin Pace, T Damien Woody, OLB Vernon Gholston, TE Dustin Keller.
Significant subtractions: QB Chad Pennington, WR Justin McCareins, LB Jonathan Vilma, DT Dewayne Robertson.
RB: Marshawn Lynch (11th overall)
QB: Trent Edwards (166th overall)
WR: Lee Evans (73th overall)
TE: None drafted
RB: Ronnie Brown (54th overall)
QB: Chad Pennington (200th overall)
WR: Ted Ginn Jr. (152nd overall)
TE: None drafted
RB: Laurence Maroney (38th overall)
QB: Tom Brady (4th overall)
WR: Randy Moss (9th overall)
TE: Ben Watson (153rd overall)
RB: Thomas Jones (48th overall)
QB: Brett Favre (68th overall)
WR: Laveranues Coles (62nd overall)
TE: Dustin Keller (173rd overall)
|Complete Fantasy Draft Prep|
Biggest offseason move: Are you kidding me? Getting Favre was the biggest news of the entire offseason.
Will go to the playoffs if ... Favre can still play at a Pro Bowl level. That's a big if.
Rookie to watch: Keller. He's a pass-catching tight end Favre will love.
Overview: The big question is whether they are now a playoff team with Favre. I don't think they are. They still aren't in the same class with the Patriots and there are too many other good teams in the AFC. Favre will make the offense better, but by how much? With young players like cornerback Darrelle Revis ready to move to the next level, the defense should be better. Adding Jenkins in the middle of the defensive line will help the run game. The Jets will be a media-darling team, but in the end the trade to get Favre won't bring the results they want, which is to get to the playoffs.
Significant additions: QB Chad Pennington, WR Ernest Wilford, LB Akin Ayodele, TE Anthony Fasano, CB Nathan Jones, G Justin Smiley, LB Charlie Anderson, T Jake Long, QB Chad Henne, DE Kendall Langford.
Significant subtractions: DE Jason Taylor, LB Zach Thomas.
Biggest offseason move: Getting rid of Taylor for two draft picks. He wanted out and the Dolphins are in rebuilding mode.
Will go to the playoffs if ... Jupiter collides with Mars.
Rookie to watch: Henne. By midseason, he will be their starting quarterback, and should keep it for a long time.
Overview: This is a team in complete rebuild mode. New president Bill Parcells is doing it the right way, stripping away the age and building with youth. They are a couple of years from competing for a playoff spot, but first-year coach Tony Sparano will have them playing hard every week. That's his style. Pennington will open as the starter, but Henne is the long-term answer. I like the direction this team is headed. If they get five victories, it will be a successful season.
|AFC East Training Camp Tour|
|New England||Patriots: Five things | One man vs. One fan | Out of Nowhere Man | Expectations|
|Buffalo||Bills: Five things | One man vs. One fan | Out of Nowhere Man | Expectations|
|New York||Jets: Five things | One man vs. One fan | Out of Nowhere Man | Expectations|
|Miami||Dolphins: Five things | One man vs. One fan | Out of Nowhere Man | Expectations|