by Mario "Game" Granata
It is no secret that in the NFL, if you want to be a contender, you have to take care of your division first. The Buffalo Bills, and their fans, know this all too well. The Evil Empire of the New England Patriots have be a mainstay at the top of the AFC East for quite some time, but there are some new faces in the division, that need a proper welcome from the Bills. See who the Bills will have the pleasure of seeing twice this season.
New England Patriots: It has been said many times that the Patriots don't rebuild, they reload, and with their off-season moves starting March 11th, it seems that they are poised to take the East once again. They were able to resign their leading receiver in Julian Edelman who pulled in 105 passes last year, and also went out and picked up former Carolina wideout Brandon Lafell. Lafell is looking forward to playing with Tom Brady, and will serve to compete with Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson. Yeah, that is just want Brady needs, is more depth at receiver. With the injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Amendola, the Pats are looking for more depth, and may open up a little more with the depth that they have now.
The Patriots also bolstered their secondary, bringing back Patrick Chung from the Eagles, and also getting big name players Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Just what the Bills need, is Revis back in the division. This hints that the Pats are set to improve on their ranking of yards allowed from 2013 (26th with 373.1). Hopefully, the Bills can at least get a split with the Patriots this season, making a December match-up a meaningful one.
New York Jets: What can be said for the Jets that hasn't been made on a Late Night talk show? The Jets managed an 8-8 record this past season, splitting with the Buffalo Bills, and all the while with Geno Smith calling the shots. Well, this off-season the Jets let Geno know what they really thought of him, by adding Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and Jacoby Ford. A solid #2 receiver, a game changer, and a viable deep threat. Oh, and one more thing they added, Michael Vick. Since Vick's return, he has been a different player, trying to be more of a pocket passer, and denying his natural instincts to use his God given speed. Injuries have plagued Vick, and seeing what the Bills did to Cam Newton this past season, they are more than capable IF Vick were to take off. As far as Chris Johnson is concerned, the Bills should have no problem trying to bottle him up, as they have a game-breaker in CJ Spiller, whom they see daily in practice. Not sure what is in store for the Bills when they face the Jets this season, but whatever it is, it should be heated and hard hitting.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins made their, pardon the pun, splash last year, first adding Mike Williams in free agency, and then trading up in the 2013 Draft to get Dion Jordan. Well, the 60-Minute Man, Williams, proved to be inconsistent last season, and lost some targets to Brian Hartline, and Jordan didn't quite pan out in his rookie campaign, as the Bills were able to sweep the playoff bound Dolphins last year. The Dolphins, however, were able to add Knowshon Moreno, Cortland Finnegan, and Brandon Albert to their team to hopefully have a viable threat out of the backfield to give Williams more room, and by adding Albert will try to improve on their 25th ranked offense last season. Finnegan is not the player he once was, but he may try to add some attitude and toughness to a defense who lacked that killer instinct last season. The Dolphins moves signal that they won't be bullied as they were last year. Hopefully the Bills can sweep the Dolphins once again and put a dash to their playoff hopes for a second straight year.
The Bills have added some new faces this year as well, focusing more on the defensive side of the ball, and depending where they go in the 2014 NFL Draft, one thing is for certain, for the Bills to be considered a contender, they have to take care of their division first. There are some new faces in the division, and for the Bills to end the longest playoff drought in the NFL currently, they will have to take up residence on Revis Island, saw off Decker at the knees, bottle up CJ2K, and drown Moreno, Albert and the rest of the Dolphins offensive attack. Take care of the East, and the rest will take care of itself...