The Patriots winning the AFC title has become uncontested feat; a certainty as predictable as Mark Sanchez sucking, Rex Ryan being a fat loudmouth, and Bill Belichick being a D-bag to the media. What I am saying is, the Patriots own the AFC East, have for a long time, and will most likely continue to for at least a few more years.
The Jets were briefly formidable opponents, their short hot streak culminating with their playoff win in Foxborough. But it's been all down hill from there, and that team is a wasteland; a true abyss of shittiness from top to bottom. The Bills made their power move last off-season by dropping 100 mill on Mario Williams. He has not made much of a difference, and Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't exactly have opponents shaking in their boots. Because he sucks.
So there isn't much to worry about there. But then there are the Dolphins, undoubtedly a team on the rise, brimming with young talent, and poised to make some major moves this off-season. They have $45 million in cap space available, along with 9 picks in the draft they can use to augment an already solid young core. Ryan Tannehill was shaky in his first year but showed some promise. Furthermore, it appears Jeff Ireland has speedster and coveted free agent Mike Wallace in his cross-hairs.
It has been reported Miami is prepared to use their plethora of cap space to make Wallace the highest paid receiver in the league. While the thought of Wallace burning past the Pats secondary who will most likely have their heads up their asses is scary; I would rather the Dolphins burn a ton of money on one talented player than break it up and acquire a bunch of smaller pieces to truly build a team that could contend. In other words, I would prefer they go the route the Bills did with Mario Williams- putting many of their eggs in one basket with a single talented player.
While we stomped them out in the final game of the season, Miami gave the Patriots a tough game earlier in the year. The Patriots settled that game with a decisive final drive, when they "disrespectfully" ran the ball down the Dolphins throats to seal the victory (that is still one of the most absurd dumb athlete comments in recent memory).
The Dolphins have the assets to become the Patriots primary competition in the division. GM Jeff Ireland has acknowledged the fact that now is the time to close the undeniable, long-existent gap between the Patriots and the rest of the division:
"There is a gap, certainly they have won the division quite a bit, so we have to close that gap. To say that, I think it’s a five-game gap right now in wins and losses, so that’s where the gap is. So we have to close that gap and we plan to do our best job, put our best foot forward getting that done this off-season" (Quote from ESPN.com)
While they have a ton of cap space, like the Patriots, they will be forced to make some tough decisions on current players set to become free agents. Jake Long, Brian Hartline, Reggie Bush, and the aforementioned Sean Smith are key players in this group.
If the Dolphins are going to give the Pats a legit run for the money, Ireland is going to have to pull off some strategic, Kraft/Belichick-esque moves in the coming months to build a team that is strong enough to compete against the leagues best.
Do I think the Dolphins will be the second best team in the AFC East this year? Yes.Will they give the Patriots two tough games? Maybe. But will they challenge the Pats throne? No way. I believe they will be the second best team in the AFC East, but that is more a testament to how shitty I think the Bills and Jets are going to be than an acknowledgment of a real contender in Miami.
What do you guys think? Who will be the Patriots best competitor in the division? Vote below.