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Best and worst case scenario for AFC East teams

by James B. Terry

Buffalo Bills
Best case scenario
Quarterback EJ Manuel, who was limited to just ten games last year due to a knee injury, remains healthy for a full season and builds on his solid rookie season.

With stability at quarterback, fourth overall pick Sammy Watkins wins Offensive Rookie of the Year and proves that he is as advertised.    2013 second round pick Robert Woods builds on a strong rookie season in which he caught 40 balls and scored three touchdowns, making him a strong number two option for the Buffalo passing attack.  Buffalo native Mike Williams comes over from Tampa and also makes a huge impact at receiver after a hamstring injury limited him to just six games last season.

Veteran defensive end Mario Williams continues to be one of the better pass rushers in the NFL and is the leader of a young defensive core that improves this season and keeps the Bills in more games.

With the Bills young talented all starting to come around, they sneak a few wins surprise wins in against elite teams such as New England, Denver and Green Bay and with the schedule of a last place team also find a number of easy wins as well.  This is enough to push the Bills into the postseason with a bright future ahead of them.

Worst case scenario
The Bills have already lost inside linebacker Kiko Alonso to a torn ACL for the entire season after he was third in the NFL in tackles and 11th in interceptions last year as a rookie.

With one of their young defensive starts already out, the dominos fall as the season goes on and Buffalo allows a very large number of points per game this season.

Manuel fails to build on a promising rookie season after a poor preseason and shaky play at quarterback makes the drafting of Watkins to look like a bust.  This also makes players like Woods and Williams struggles on top of that.

Scott Chandler, a capable tight end, is already listed as questionable for week one and his injury problems linger on all season which creates yet another hole for the Bills.

Things get bad in Buffalo and the team finishes 3-13 and could even face the possibility of drafting Jameis Winston or Marcus Maroita next spring if they are already ready to give up on Manuel.

Miami Dolphins
Best case scenario
The Dolphins were led on offense by Brian Hartline last year with 76 grabs and over 1,000 yards.  Mike Wallace wasn’t too far behind him in both those categories.  With a strong top two receivers, Miami will look for Brandon Gibson to be a healthy third receiver.  Gibson was on pace to finish last season with 68 grabs and 745 yards last season before an ACL tear ended his season seven games into it.

With one of the deepest receiving cores in the NFL, the rushing attack becomes a strong compliment to the offense behind the acquisition of Knoshon Moreno.

With the best core of weapons he has had in his short career, quarterback Ryan Tannehill breaks out and assures everyone that he is a franchise quarterback.

2013 top three pick Dion Jordan bounces back from a horrible rookie season and becomes the sack master he once was at the University of Oregon, making him and Cam Wake a top 1-2 combo at defensive end.

Miami steals a game vs. New England just like they did last year and sweeps both the Jets and Bills.  They hold on to put a number of their “toss up” games in the win column and finish with a 10-6 record which in the AFC should be easily good enough for a wild card spot.

Worst case scenario
Cornerback Cortland Finnegan struggles after his 2013 season in St. Louis ended with a dangerous eye injury and creates a massive hole in the secondary.

Jordan, who will start the season on a four game suspension, struggles once again once he is back on the field and it becomes clear that the Dolphins wasted a top three pick, one that they traded up to get.

The offensive line, which struggled one the bulling scandal broke last season, continues to be a weak spot for Miami and it causes both the running and passing game to struggle.

Running back Lamar Miller takes a step back after turning some heads in 2013 with an impressive season and Moreno fails to be as effective as he was in Denver because he no longer plays with one of the greatest offenses of all time.

The Dolphins

New England Patriots
Best case scenario

Running back Shane Vereen rushes for 800 yards and gains another 700 though the air, placing among the league leaders in touchdowns.  Rookie back James White finds his groove in the NFL and can make up for the loss of LeGarrette Blount and New England’s ground game is much improved.

Second year receivers Kenbell Tompkins and Aaron Dobson each make huge strides after shaky rookie seasons.  Rob Gronkowski stays healthy and is an All Pro tight end again and Danny Amendola puts together a full season and grabs 80 balls, becoming a first down machine for the Patriots.

Revis helps the Patriots pass defense become one of the best in the NFL and Pat Chung’s return to New England also returns him to form and both safety spots are sured up this season.

The Patriots sweep all three AFC East teams and hold their own in the limited number of tough teams on their schedule, making them the top seed in the AFC when the playoffs come around.

Worst case scenario
Now entering his fourth NFL season, Vereen is still looking to play out an entire season without getting injured.  Having already established that he is a key player in the offense, the Patriots worst case scenario in 2014 starts with him struggling with injury issues.  Rookie running back James White struggles with Vereen down and the team fails to trust Steven Ridley due to fumble issues.

The core of second year wide receivers can’t find ways to improve on lackluster rookie seasons and Danny Amendola once again struggles with a number of injury issues and Rob Gronkowski misses a number of games as well.

The offensive line that was inconsistent during the preseason struggles after trading All Pro guard Logan Mankins and take a step back with a new line coach.

On defense, an improved secondary doesn’t help the team improve that much as Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo struggle to return from injury and the run defense take a major blow.

After splitting games with the Jets and Dolphins last year, New England splits with both of them again and they also drop a number of tough out of division games such as Green Bay, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Denver.

The team still has enough talent and weak games to stay in the hunt and a 9-7 final record is good enough to get them one of the two Wild Card spots in the AFC.

New York Jets
Best case scenario
Behind a strong offensive line featuring D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, running back Chris Johnson has a bounce back season after dipping off the past few years in Tennessee.

The signing of Eric Decker not only gives another weapon to second year quarterback Geno Smith, but it allows for Jeremy Kerley to play against second cornerbacks this season, giving a huge boost to the passing attack.

Aggressive, hard hitting rookie safety Calvin Pryor fits into the Rex Ryan system perfectly and he contends for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson and outside linebackers Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples create a strong pass rush for New York.

The Jets split their games against New England and sweep their games against the Dolphins and Bills.  With six of their final seven games against teams the missed the playoffs last season, New York finishes the season off as one of the hottest teams in the NFL and advances to the playoffs with a 11-5 record.

Worst case scenario
The Jets cornerbacks aren’t that strong on paper and if they don’t play above their expectations, it creates a major problem in a traditionally solid Rex Ryan defense.

Geno Smith’s early struggles makes the team turn to Michael Vick and the veteran’s legs just can’t cut it anymore and a massive hole at quarterback makes the offseason addition of Decker meaningless as nobody can get him the ball.

Chris Johnson still isn’t the Pro Bowl running back he once was with the Titans and his yards per carry turns out to be terrible once again but he’s still the best option for the Jets as Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory also can’t get anything going on the ground.

After coming a game short of a wild card berth last year, the Jets just fall back into habits from the season before and crumble.  They fall to a 4-12 record and finish last in the AFC East, winning just one division game in the process.

 

BC Pigskin Looking to Improve

For those of you have given up on the Red Sox season (I’m talking to you Ben Cherington) do not fear, more sports are coming. The Pats start in a couple weeks, about a month’s wait for the Bruins; give it about two month for some Celtics basketball, but Boston College football returns this weekend. Coming off of a 6-7 season that ended with Andre Williams being robbed of the Heisman and a lopsided loss to Arizona in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, BC enters the playoff era of college football with hopes of improving.
Scoring may present a bit of an issue for the Eagles during their 2014 campaign. The aforementioned Andre Williams graduated along with his 2177 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns (seriously, why wasn’t this guy striking a pose in New York last December?) as well as leading receiver Alex Amidon’s 77 grabs, 1032 yards and 5 scores will be missing. To put these two losses in perspective, Amidon and Williams encompassed 3256 yards or BC’s 4774. 68% of Boston College’s yards are gone and going to be hard to replaced. Additionally, the boot of Nate Freese puts BC in a bit of a bind. The kicker last year put all 20 of his field goal attempts through the uprights, but only 40/41 PATs.
Florida transfer Tyler Murphy brings a whole new dynamic to the offense. The 5th year Senior enters the season as the starting Quarterback, ahead of other players including Freshman Tory Flutie (sound familiar?). Murphy brings a whole new skillset to the position that Boston College has lacked, a dual threat. Between his legs and his arm, Murphy, along with the schemes of Coach Steve Addazio, he present big play material. Looking back at Murphy’s days as a Gator, Eagles fans should feel optimistic about their play behind center.
One benefit Boston College has going for them is the schedule. Early in the season, a stretch of home games, and a few winnable road games can pave the way to a strong season, perhaps ending in a bowl appearance.
Game by Game Predictions
8/30 @ UMass W
9/5 vs. Pittsburgh L
9/13 vs. USC L
9/20 vs. Maine W
9/27 vs. Colorado St. W
10/11 @ NC St. W
10/18 vs. Clemson L
10/25 @ Wake Forest W
11/1 @ Virginia Tech L
11/8 vs. Louisville L
11/22 @ Florida St. L
11/29 vs. Syracuse W
TOTAL 6-6

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Former Pats Pro Bowler to be on “Biggest Loser”

by James B. Terry

Former Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody will be a contestant on the upcoming season of “The Biggest Loser.”

Woody, a former Pro Bowl lineman who was on the Patriots Super Bowl winning teams in 2001 and 2003, will also be joined by former NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell as a contestant.

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Celtics fill training camp roster with three signings

by James B. Terry

The Boston Celtics have made minor moves in the past few days to help fill out their training camp roster as the preseason quickly approaches.

The signings include undrafted rookie Tim Frazier as well as Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford, both of whom went undrafted in 2013 and played professionally in other countries last season.

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Red Sox signing of Rusney Castillo gives fans more hope for 2015

by Michael Husson

Reports came out today that the Red Sox had reached an agreement with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo on a seven year, $72 million deal. This being the highest paid contract for an amateur free agent. Castillo will most likely join the team at somepoint this season after he gets some time in the minors. Continue reading

(Photo: presna.com)

Castillo expected to pick team next week; would be major pull for Red Sox

by James B. Terry

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Other teams in the running include the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.  Castillo is expected to receive a five year contract worth no less than $50 million.

Boston signing Castillo would be a major turn of events for a franchise that has only made the playoffs once in the past five seasons and is on track for their second last place finish in three years.

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Ups and downs continue as Red Sox season goes on

by James B. Terry

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This surge made Red Sox fans irrationally excited for what was to come, making many expect the team to be buyers rather than sellers as the trading deadline drew closer.

But the theme of the year for Boston has seemed to be streaks and that has even shown these past two weeks.

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Phil Jackson showing he can do what Ainge can’t

by James B. Terry

The Boston Celtics have a number of dead weight and bad contract players on their roster right now; Keith Bogans can be placed in both categories.

Danny Ainge is handcuffed because of this and he hasn’t been able to make major splashes in the offseason. The bad contracts limit cap space which means his biggest free agent catch wound up being Evan Turner, a signing that I like but I still understand that bringing him in is a complete gamble. The number of dead weight players made it impossible for the team to trade for a star like Kevin Love because when it was all said and done, Minnesota just didn’t think much of guys like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger even if they’ve shown promise.

Or maybe Ainge is just building this team wrong. Let’s head to the Big Apple for a minute to see what Phil Jackson has done with the New York Knicks.

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Despite underwhelming 2014, Red Sox fans should be excited for 2015

by Michael Husson

The Red Sox currently sit in last place in the AL East, a position that no one thought was possible after last years magical World Series title run. Gone are many parts of that team with new bodies and upincoming rookies finding their way in the big league. Next season, however, seems to be a lot more promising for Red Sox Nation.  Continue reading

(Photo: espn.com)

Five Takeaways from Patriots preseason game one

by Michael Husson

The Patriots spent all week in training camp with the Washington Redskins and it gave them some good competition and also some good game action for the season. The Patriots lost 23-7 but despite the end score, there were still some positives. Here are five takeaways from preseason game number one. Continue reading

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Jon Lester’s return to Boston seems to good to be true

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