AFC East: The odds that the Jets, Dolphins or Bills beat out the Patriots - Metro US

AFC East: The odds that the Jets, Dolphins or Bills beat out the Patriots

At some point in life, you appreciate the little things.

It’s precisely why the phrase “Free T-shirt” is routinely met with smiling faces at bars, softball games and team-building events at work.

If it’s a T-shirt with some substance (like my ‘French Lick, Ind. – Home of Larry Bird’ cartoon T, which is more or less see-through at this point due to overuse), it’s a walking, talking story that you can proudly wear on your chest every weekend.

But there are T-shirts out there that are met with sheer indifference. One example is one that reads “New England Patriots – AFC East Champions.”

The Patriots have dominated the division over the past 11 years so much so that there is never a bottle of non-New Years champagne popped around New England in early January each year.

Are we lucky around here? You bet. Has the all the winning made us numb? Most definitely.

But just remember, there are three other fan bases out there that would proudly wear an “AFC East Champions” T-shirt. Here they are, with their chances of taking the division crown away from New England this year:

Buffalo Bills

Division title threat (scale 1-10): 7

Storyline to watch: They released Shawne Merriman the other day. Make no mistake: that’s a good thing. Mario Williams is now the leader on “D” and their defensive line is now “Giants-esque,” which should give Patriots fans a pause. People forget that the main thing that sunk Buffalo’s 2011 season after a hot start was injuries.

New York Jets

Division title threat: 4

Beyond Tebow/Sanchez, the Jets have issues. Running back Shonn Greene hasn’t lived up to his potential and the defense allowed 22.7 points per game last season. In other words, New York’s defense was vastly overrated last year. The secondary remains one of the best in the game, however, and the addition of LaRon Landry will make that

group downright scary.

Miami Dolphins

Division title threat: 3

Remember 2008? Dolphins fans certainly do.

That was the year they entered the season with the lowest of expectations and then somehow came away with a division crown at the end of the year. Yes, their defense has been getting destroyed by other teams this preseason and they are relying heavily on a rookie QB in Ryan Tannehill … but you never, ever know in this league.

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