Power rankings are a fun part of the NFL experience. That's where the experts get together and figure out where all 32 teams rank in order based on their current record, the teams they played, and how they did against those teams. A close win against a bad team doesn't mean nearly as much as a close loss to a really good team. But when it comes to the off-season, the power rankings are more of a look at where the team left off at the end of the season, how well they it's believed they did in free agency and the draft, injury updates, and any changes in the coaching staff. At this point, a lot of experts are weighing in to judge the off-season prior to training camp starting up next month.
Here I'm going to look at those same factors, but instead of ranking by the entire NFL, I'm doing to break it down by division — starting with the AFC East.
New England Patriots: This is an obvious one. The team just came off a comeback victory for the ages in the Super Bowl and then went into free agency and added Stephon Gilmore, Brandin Cooks, and Kony Ealy and addressed defensive end and offensive tackle in the draft. The Patriots are guided by Bill Belichick and arguably the best coaching staff in the NFL who are known for turning castoffs into treasures. But the fate of this team rides on the arm of soon-to-be 40-year-old Tom Brady. Tom Perfect has yet to show signs of slowing down, but often times with athletes the drop off is dramatic and happens fast. They have Jimmy Garoppolo as a backup, who has shown a lot of promise, but no one knows if he is their future or not. And if Brady got hurt for any length of time, this team could drop like a stone.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins are second in the division, but it's not a close second. The strength of this team is their defensive line which includes the trio of Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, and Charles Harris. But as good as they are, their secondary is horrible. Folks seem to be high on Adam Gase as a coach, and he should be help for Ryan Tannehill as he moves into his sixth season. This is a make-or-break season for Tannehill, as the Dolphins could choose to part ways with the 28-year-old quarterback after this season. Their draft mainly focused on the defensive side of the ball taking Harris along with a safety, cornerback, and two defensive tackles. They didn't make any big splashes in free agency; the signing of wideout Kenny Stills to a four-year deal may be the highlight. If Tannehill steps up under Gase, the team could continue to improve, but that is a big if.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills have gone through a coaching change once again as former Carolina Panther's defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was named head coach. Then the team went through the draft and after fired general manager Doug Whaley and replaced him with Brandon Beane, also formerly of the Panthers. The team made a lot of off-season moves, but the majority of them were just shuffling around journey men players who will fit into the schemes the new coach wants to run. The Bills got clever in the draft and traded back, ending up with Tre'davious White, a cornerback that should do well right away. What they didn't get, nor did they sign during free agency, is a quarterback. The offense has some good pieces, but it all rides on Tyrod Taylor, who is still young enough to be a potential franchise QB. But he hasn't show enough to make me think he's worth putting all the eggs in a the same basket for. I would put them last in this division if it wasn't for the Jets.
New York Jets: This team could end up making the Cleveland Browns look good. Their off-season could basically be called a fire sale, as the team has parted ways with more beloved players than Fireman Ed can shake his hat at. Their draft was pretty good, improving their secondary with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, but safety as only one of their needs. There were players released that the head coach didn't even know were leaving and had no say in the matter. And their quarterback situation is abysmal. Their roster has Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, and Bryce Petty — that's not a group to give fans confidence. With Colin Kaepernick still sitting out there, it's hard to fathom how the Jets could seriously go into the season with that group. It is possible that owner Woody Johnson is looking to sell the team, as rumor has it that Donald Trump plans to name Johnson ambassador to the U.K.