AFC East Power Rankings: Where the Jets stand before training camp

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Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

With training camp just a couple of weeks away, it's a good time to take stock of the rest of the AFC East. Let's review some of the big storylines for each of the Jets' rivals, and assess where they should stand in the Power Rankings...

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1. New England Patriots - 2018 record: 11-5

Ordinarily, you'd expect any team to struggle to overcome the loss of key contributors like Trey Flowers, Rob Gronkowski and Trent Brown, among others. However, the Patriots have traditionally had no problems integrating replacements for their departing stars.

 

After missing his rookie year through injury, the Patriots have confidence that last year's top pick Isaiah Wynn will fill in for Brown at left tackle, while a 2019 rookie - Chase Winovich - might be one of the players who replaces some of Flowers' production. Gronkowski's retirement is a blow -- the Patriots currently list the ageless Ben Watson as his replacement -- but speculation suggests he could unretire at some point anyway.

The Patriots top rookie, wide receiver N'Keal Harry, is expected to help offset the loss of Chris Hogan in the passing game.

On defense, the Patriots added a couple of former Jets, including defensive tackle Mike Pennel whom they currently list as a starter. Having obtained elite production from journeyman Lawrence Guy last season, New England will be hoping to repeat the trick with Pennel. Veteran Michael Bennett should also be a solid addition.

The Patriots could endure their seemingly annual early-season wobble but, ultimately, they're going to remain top of the heap until somebody steps up and overtakes them. Who knows when that will be?

2. New York Jets - 2018 record: 4-12

There is plenty of optimism surrounding the 2019 Jets with big free agency additions on both sides of the ball - running back Le'Veon Bell and linebacker CJ Mosley - expected to upgrade each unit. They seem to have shaken off concerns over organizational dysfunction since hiring Joe Douglas to be the new general manager, and hope to close the gap on New England with Adam Gase now at the helm.

Even so, there are still a lot of unknowns on the Jets' team and a couple of positions could benefit from a personnel upgrade. The team is also counting on players like Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson producing more than they did last year. While each has shown good reason to anticipate them making a leap, there's no guarantee of this.

3. Buffalo Bills - 2018 record: 6-10

It's close between the Jets and Bills as to who will push New England the closest next year, but current odds favour the Jets marginally. Like the Jets, Buffalo's future in the short and long-term will be closely tied to their young quarterback: Josh Allen.

The Bills prioritized protecting Allen during the offseason as they signed five offensive linemen with starting experience, including former Jet Spencer Long. They also got Allen a few weapons, signing wide receivers Cole Beasley and John Brown and also adding tight end Tyler Kroft.

They didn't do as much to upgrade a defense that gave up the second-lowest amount of yardage in the league in 2018, although they did use their first pick on the disruptive Ed Oliver. The retiring Kyle Williams will be missed though.

The Jets got their only divisional win of last year over the Bills on Elijah McGuire's late fourth down touchdown. The teams will lock horns again in the season opener, where each will be eager to stamp their authority on the division race.

4. Miami Dolphins - 2018 record: 7-9

Gase's departure seems to have ushered in a rebuilding period for the Dolphins. New head coach Brian Flores will have his work cut out for him with a team that has plenty of unproven young players, but not much in the way of star power.

With veterans Cameron Wake, Ju'wuan James, Frank Gore and Danny Amendola gone, the Dolphins will be relying on some younger player to step up. Much will depend on the quarterback position where Miami was initially relying on Ryan Fitzpatrick, but then jumped at the chance to trade for Josh Rosen during the draft. Rosen, like Darnold and Allen, could change his team's fortunes if he becomes a star.

The team did lock up one of their best building blocks when they signed cornerback Xavien Howard to a big-money contract extension. However, they need more of their homegrown talent to blossom like Howard has.

Under Gase, Miami was the only AFC East team to beat New England last year, winning 34-33 on a miracle finish at home and finishing second in the division. However, they are widely tipped to be in the cellar this year and will be expected to build around a high draft pick next season.

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