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Football.com's Big, Bad NFL Preview Series: AFC East

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Despite losing most of his favorite receivers this spring, Tom Brady has looked strong throwing to a young, talented group. The Patriots still look like the cream of the crop in the AFC East. Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.
Despite losing most of his favorite receivers this spring, Tom Brady has looked strong throwing to a young, talented group. The Patriots still look like the cream of the crop in the AFC East. Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

Since taking over late in his rookie season, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have owned the AFC East. Other than a few miracle runs by the New York Jets in recent years, the Patriots have been the team to beat and despite taking major personnel hits this offseason, status quo appears to be unchanged. At least on paper, the Patriots still appear to be the best team in the division, and Brady easily sits as its best quarterback.

The Miami Dolphins spent big money to upgrade the roster around second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but only time will tell if these new parts mesh together and the Dolphins become a contender. Bringing in free agents can improve teams, but history also shows plenty of times where spending on high-priced veterans backfires and the team falters. As for the Jets and Buffalo Bills, both teams drafted quarterbacks in April and will have a tough time contending unless these rookies can start and perform well right away. The Jets still have a strong defense, but as long as Mark Sanchez remains the starting quarterback, this team has little hope of keeping up with the Patriots and this could be Rex Ryan's last chance to save his job. New Bills coach Doug Marrone inherited a team with a strong running game, but he will need to fix an underachieving defense to have any shot at making it to the .500 mark in his first season.