Who will win the AFC East and how many teams from the division will make the playoffs? Our roundtable reporters give their picks.
Rich Cimini, Jets reporter: Only the Patriots. The AFC East is in transition. The Jets and Bills are grooming new quarterbacks and will experience the inevitable growing pains that occur in those situations. The Dolphins have a veteran quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, but they're rebuilding to some degree after having dumped a handful of big-name players. What I'm trying to say is this: The Patriots will go unchallenged (again) and win their 10th straight division title. Sorry, folks, there will be no wild cards from the AFC East. The Bills will take a step backward after their surprising playoff appearance in 2017. The Jets and Dolphins will be improved, but not enough to sneak into the playoffs. Yes, the gap between first place and last place will be closer than last season, when there was an eight-game difference between the Patriots and Jets, but don't expect the world to turn upside down. Maybe in 2019, but not yet.
Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter: Patriots win, Bills a wild card. The Patriots have won nine straight AFC East titles and are the clear favorite to make it 10 in a row. That would make it 16 division crowns in Bill Belichick's 19 years as coach (2000, 2002, 2008 the exceptions), which highlights the stranglehold they've had on the division. At the same time, the Bills' long-range plan built notable momentum in 2017, which included a surprise playoff berth and they are positioned to be a worthy challenger and return to the postseason. The Jets are further behind, with quarterback Sam Darnold (No. 3 overall) offering the type of longer-range hope the franchise hasn't had for some time. The Dolphins are banking on a better culture producing better results, which makes them a wild card of sorts.
Mike Rodak, ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter: Only the Patriots. The Dolphins making the playoffs in 2016 and the Bills in 2017 ended a drought of five seasons (2011-2015) without a wild-card qualifier in the AFC East, but it is hard to say any of the Patriots' competition will be ready to contend this season. Tannehill is returning to a much different Miami offense than the one he brought to the playoffs in 2016. While Josh McCown is an excellent mentor for Sam Darnold, it is hard to see McCown leading the Jets to their first postseason appearance since 2010. The odds seem even further stacked against Nathan Peterman or AJ McCarron as the Bills' starting quarterback. If Darnold in New York or Josh Allen in Buffalo slide into the starting role this season, any expectations about the playoffs should be tempered with a rookie under center.