An exciting new blog “series” is making its debut for your reading enjoyment at The Amateur Agency! It is the Wizard of Auzz series, where NFL fortunes for each division will be told. *Cue the crystal ball*
No, the Wizard of Oz did not tell fortunes in the famous movie (spoiler alert), but the Wizard of Auzz does – so hopefully you like that sort of thing.
For each division, the Wizard will dive into team transactions that occurred, the difficulty of each team’s schedule, and more to determine the final outlook of each division by the end of the regular season.
Note: The difficulty of schedule is based upon a team’s opponents’ win-loss % the year prior. This way of ranking schedules appeals to the masses, but I personally dislike it.
Now to the fortune telling. Ooooooh.
The Buffalo Bills have had quite the busy offseason. They addressed needs along the offensive line, signing or drafting around 53 (actually 5) new players at that area alone. What better way to address an area of need then throwing enough players to form a whole new offensive line?
There’s a famous philosophy that teams win in the “trenches”. Trenches meaning the offensive and defensive lines. The Bills doubled down on that philosophy by taking Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, at 9th overall in April’s draft.
Next, they went after a bunch of Wide Receivers (WR) to provide as weapons for their young stud quarterback, Josh Allen, to throw to.
With those additions, the Bills really don’t have any glaring needs. They did a very good job in adding players that could vie for starting positions. And for the players who don’t start? Well, with the players they added, they will serve as really solid depth players.
To top it all off, they have one of the easiest schedules according to Sporting News with the 8th easiest schedule.
With all that said…
The Bills look primed for a breakout campaign after having exceeded expectations a year ago. Although they could easily be competing with the Patriots for the top of the division in the first 10 weeks, the Bills finish the season with a very tough stretch of games and it’s too early for this young team to compete with the best.
Wizard’s Prediction: 8-8
Dolphins fans have had a rollercoaster of an offseason. It went from #TankForTua to #TheRosenOne, Miami has seemingly decided to forego the obvious tank season.
Amateur note: Tanking is where a team deliberately sucks to get a high draft pick in the following year’s draft.
The Josh Rosen trade was solid for the Dolphins, who had traded their starting QB, Ryan Tannehill, to the Tennessee Titans and followed that up by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick.
At a time, the future was bleak for the upcoming season for the Dolphins. With first-year head coach Brian Flores taking the reigns for the team, there was no sense of urgency to put forth a top-level team.
Good team building can take time.
The front office at Miami has done a very good job at setting the team up well for the future while also maintaining a focus on today.
Signing CB Xavien Howard to a 5 year, $75 million deal was a great place to begin to set the foundation for this defence. The Dolphins now have one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL locked up, as that secondary takes shape.
They also freed up cap room by releasing Danny Amendola and Andre Branch and unloaded Robert Quinn’s contract by trading him to the Cowboys.
While it’s still a work in progress, the players they’ve added to the roster fit well into Flores’ scheme. That can be said with certainty because two of them, Dwayne Allen and Eric Rowe, played for the Patriots under Flores and Miami Offensive Coordinator Dan O’Shea last season.
With these moves and the 18th toughest schedule, the Dolphins still won’t be competitors in a tough AFC, but they will make some more noise than one might’ve predicted in early April.
Wizard’s Prediction: 6-10
New York Jets
Well well well…
News broke that GM Mike Maccagnan and VP Player Personnel Brian Heimerdinger were fired at the time of this writing. We discussed this during Episode 11 of 3rd & Wrong, check it out, right after reading this.
This firing screams dysfunction on the surface.
Allowing their GM that they intended to fire to spend $191 million in his own Free Agency Frenzy, and to lead a draft that had the team holding the 3rd overall pick just does not seem to be a good plan of attack for an up and coming organization.
To their credit, at least the Jets front office picked one of the best players in the Draft in Quinnen Williams, so it’s not like that draft pick was a waste.
With this news aside, the Jets did make some solid acquisitions, picking up linebacker C.J. Mosley, running back Le’Veon Bell, WR Jamison Crowder and a lot more.
It remains to be seen how these big acquisitions will mesh in Adam Gase’s system, however.
Luckily for the Jets, they have the 5th easiest schedule.
With that being said, the Jets need to build some continuity before they compete with the top teams.
Wizard’s Prediction: 5-11
New England Patriots
Yes, if you’ve made it this far, you have noticed the records for the other teams are indicative that the Patriots will once again win the division with relative ease.
At a time this offseason, it looked like the Jets and Bills were tooling up to dethrone the Patriots, while the Patriots were letting big names walk.
But in typical AFC East fashion, the Jets wanted to take over the Giants for laughingstock of New York. And the Bills simply need time to develop into their potential.
However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows in Foxborough, Mass.
They did lose key defensive end (DE) Trey Flowers to a big contract with the Detroit Lions. They also lost left tackle (LT), Trent Brown. Brown’s loss could be overshadowed by the fact that the Patriots seem to churn out top-level production out of LTs like it’s running out of style.
This offseason was not full of losses though for the Patriots.
They drafted stud WR prospect N’Keal Harry who possesses the catch radius and ability to catch in traffic akin to Rob Gronkowski.
They addressed the offensive line by drafting offensive tackle Yodney Cajuste in the 3rd round. At one point Cajuste was projected as a 1st round talent before an injury caused him to drop.
One could go into all the nitty gritty of the Patriots signings and draft picks, but the end result is this:
The rich got richer.
With the 2nd easiest schedule in the NFL, the Patriots are poised to take another AFC East title, as well as make another playoff run.
Wizard’s Prediction: 12-4
Stay tuned for more of the Wizard of Auzz series, where I will continue to break down the rest of the league! Hope you enjoy.
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