AFC East Preview: Rex Ryan still chasing Bill Belichick as his time runs out

The Pats normally dominate the AFC East, but will the absence of Tom Brady be too much to take?

BY Robbie Dunne 09:30 Friday 9 September 2016, 9:30 9 Sep 2016

With the NFL pre-season well underway and the real action about to begin, we break down each division in the NFL to highlight what to what to watch out for, who to avoid in your Fantasy Football draft, and make one bold prediction which will surely come back to bite us.

AFC East in five words

Is Brady's loss Buffalo's gain?

Team under the most pressure

The Patriots don't owe anyone anything, the Jets had a good enough season this year to merit a slight dip in form, and the Dolphins have a new head coach in Adam Gase, whom they acquired from the Chicago Bears. The onus then falls on Rex Ryan - the type of coach who tends to draw attention to himself - as his Buffalo Bills team look to win two or three more games than they did last season and improve on their 8-8 record.

He said upon his arrival in Buffalo, "I'm not going to let our fans down. It's been 15 years since we made the playoffs. We're going."

That's now 16 years and counting...

Storyline to watch

The topic of Tom Brady's suspension is too easy (and we cover it a bit later on anyway) so we are going to go with Rex Ryan's eternal pursuit of Bill Belichick. The Bills struggled last year in Ryan's first season, but he added his brother Rob and Ed Reed in an effort to improve their efficiency on the defensive side of the ball. Despite his reputation however, Rob's recent defensive units have underperformed, so the fate of both Ryan brothers is in the balance.

As a savvy coach, he will try to put the squeeze on the Patriots with that set up, but he has also added Reggie Bush and 

Bold Prediction

The Patriots won't recover from their first four games without Tom Brady to win the division. Typically, they tend to come storming out of the blocks, frightening the daylights out of their division rivals as they spend the rest of the season playing catch-up to the all-conquering Bill Belichick.

However, this offense relies so much on Brady that a 1-3 record to start the season is not out of the question. Two of those opening games are against their division rivals too, which may leave them chasing a pack that they can't catch.

Best rookie in the division

It has to be Laremy Tunsil, considering the fact that Shaw Lawson is injured, as is Reggie Ragland - both of whom could have had an immediate impact on the Bufalo Bill's defense. 

Tunsil's stock dropped on the night of the NFL Draft when an incriminating video of the offensive tackle emerged, but he is considered the best player in the draft, and a steal at 13, where he fell to the Dolphins. 

Fantasy do’s and don’ts

Do draft Brandon Marshall – 4305 yards and 37 touchdowns in the last three full seasons Marshall has played suggests he's better off in your time than with one of your rival's.

Don't draft Dion Lewis - He was a stud in the first half of last season, but coming off an ACL and cutting like he did from September to November will be difficult.

Do draft Tyrod Taylor - Sammy Watkins is an excellent target, and the Bills have some depth at running back so Taylor has all the tools he needs to succeed.

Don't draft Ryan Tannehill - To suggest that Adam Gase can come in and work wonders with a below-par QB with no proven wide receivers is a bit of a stretch. 

You can read the rest of our other divisional previews below:

AFC North

AFC South

AFC West

NFC North

NFC South

NFC East

NFC West

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