AFC East Preview

A look around the AFC East and the matchups for week one.

The AFC East is up for grabs last year with at least three teams able to claim the role as legitimate contenders for the division. The first of the weekly previews from around the division:

Dolphins at Bills, 1 p.m. - There will be at least one AFC East division matchup in each of the first four weeks. The first is a Week 1 matchup between the Dolphins and Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Both teams have good running backs, and both have question marks on the offensive line. Buffalo's offensive line has had little work together and is unproven, while Miami has unfamiliar faces inside their front unit. Everyone knows what Miami has in the 1-2 punch of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. However, the Dolphins need their offensive trench corps to mesh early as rookie third-round pick John Jerry will start at right guard, former Bill Richie Incognito is stationed at left guard, and six-year veteran Joe Berger dethroned center Jake Grove from his starting position. Grove was cut last week. As for Buffalo, rookie running back C.J. Spiller had a stellar preseason and may be the team's most explosive player. Add Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, and that's a pretty good backfield. But will they have anywhere to run?

Buffalo has the better secondary, as the Bills' pass defense ranked second in the league last year. Buffalo's entire secondary, which grabbed 22 of the Bills' 28 picks last season, returns in 2010. The bad news for Buffalo is that Miami added Brandon Marshall. Marshall has the edge over cornerback Terrence McGee in this one. McGee has had experience covering tough wideouts in the past, but it's hard to imagine quarterback Chad Henne will have a difficult time getting Marshall the ball. Again, the offensive line will dictate a lot of what happens… While Miami gained a big-time receiver, Buffalo lost one. Terrell Owens is with Cincinnati now, and Buffalo's No. 1 wideout is now Lee Evans… rough.

The Bills are home and will be fired up. Miami has lost its last four season-openers. Still, edge goes to Miami. Prediction: MIA 20, BUF 10.


Bengals at Patriots, 1 p.m. – This matchup is simple: One team made big additions, and one team suffered some serious subtractions. Cincinnati added Terrell Owens opposite WR Chad Ochocinco. New England's best cornerback Leigh Bodden is out for the season, as is defensive end Ty Warren. Can second-year cornerback Darius Butler and rookie Devin McCourty contain two of the top receivers in the league? Nope, not with quarterback Carson Palmer calling signals for Cincy.

New England is also with holdout guard Logan Mankins – another critical loss the Patriots have to endure, at least for now. Quarterback Tom Brady will be excited, however, about becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL after signing a 4-year, $72 million contract extension. Brady also gets back arguably his most important target in wide receiver Wes Welker. And, a guy named Randy Moss is still in Foxboro. The Patriots will have their hands full this season with a plethora of inexperienced players who will see time while some of their best guys are watching the game from the sidelines or television, but the cliché that head coach Bill Belichick should never be underestimated still stands. This game could be an offensive shootout, but fans are probably skeptical after watching the offensive letdown in the 14-9 Saints' victory over Minnesota Thursday night.

The Patriots are undefeated on opening day at Gillette Stadium (6-0), and Brady is 3-0 vs. the Bengals. Hard to count them out, but the Pats are too weak on defense. Cincy gets the edge. Prediction: CIN 30, NE 27.

Nick St. Denis covers the Jets and the AFC East for

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