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AFC East Preview: Pats' offensive juggernaut is ready to roll / Division rating 15.0

1. New England Patriots

(18.0)

With QB Tom Brady, WRs Randy Moss (69 catches, 11 TDs), Wes Welker (111 catches), and Joey Galloway, an improved tight end corps and deep stable of running backs, Patriots should have no trouble lighting up scoreboards. Main question is how well offensive line protects Brady, who is coming off knee injury. Rating: 5.0.

Defense: Trading DE Richard Seymour and OLB Mike Vrabel and retirement of LB Tedy Bruschi and S Rodney Harrison creates huge leadership void. It's up to NT Vince Wilfork, DE Ty Warren and LBs Jerod Mayo and Adalius Thomas to pick up slack. DE Derrick Burgess acquired to help boost a pass rush that needs to ease pressure off a secondary that has injury-prone Shawn Springs, aging vet Leigh Bodden and several young backups at cornerback. Rating: 4.0.

Special teams: K Stephen Gostkowski led NFL in scoring and had team-record 36 field goals. AFC kickoff return leader Ellis Hobbs was traded, but Pats have several good replacements. Rating: 4.0.

Coaching: Bill Belichick deals with personnel losses better than anyone. Rating: 5.0.

On the spot: Brady. Staying healthy is a must.

Prediction: Stacked Pats motivated to remind people who owns this decade. Record: 13-3.

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2. New York Jets

(14.0)

Offense: Rookie QB Mark Sanchez has great physical tools but experience is sorely lacking. Receiving corps is a question mark, too, and could use an upgrade (Denver's Brandon Marshall?). RBs Thomas Jones (AFC-high 1,312 yards, 13 TDs) and Leon Washington and solid O-line should carry team while Sanchez gets settled in. Rating: 3.0.

Defense: Pro Bowl NT Kris Jenkins and LBs Bart Scott and David Harris lead a tough front seven. But top pass rusher Calvin Pace must serve four-game steroid-related suspension. Pro Bowl CB Darrelle Revis and FS Kerry Rhodes part of good secondary. Rating: 4.0.

Special teams: Washington, a Pro Bowler, will share return duties with Jim Leonhard (11.6 punt return average in Baltimore). K Jay Feely is adequate, but punting is a concern. Coverage is routinely sound. Rating: 4.5.

Coaching: Rex Ryan talks a good game. Let's see if he can coach one. Rating: 2.5.

On the spot: Sanchez. He'd better be as good as Ryan thinks he is.

Prediction: Jets have some nice pieces, but starting a rookie QB is not a formula for success. Record: 7-9.

***

3. Miami Dolphins

(14.0)

Offense: QB Chad Pennington, NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, overcomes physical limitations with sharp decision-making. With no true No. 1 receiver, Dolphins will rely on committee approach. RB Ronnie Brown can do more than operate Wildcat. Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs provide good backfield depth. Rating: 3.5.

Defense: Pro Bowl OLB Joey Porter (17.5 sacks in '08) is driving force of this unit. DE/OLB Jason Taylor returns to Miami as situational rusher. NT Jason Ferguson and ILB Channing Crowder are run-stuffers. Rookie CBs Vontae Davis and Sean Smith will have prominent roles in secondary. Rating: 4.0.

Special teams: K Dan Carpenter was a find as undrafted rookie. P Brandon Fields is just adequate. Between Cobbs, Ted Ginn and Davone Bess, Dolphins have good options on returns. Rating: 3.5.

Coaching: Tony Sparano made boss Bill Parcells look like a genius after leading greatest one-year turnaround in NFL history. Rating: 3.0.

On the spot: Brown. Entering contract year, Dolphins need him to step up.

Prediction: Won't benefit from easy schedule this season. Record: 7-9.

***

4. Buffalo Bills

(14.0)

Offense: No huddle will only work if if retooled O-line gives QB Trent Edwards time to find WRs Terrell Owens and Lee Evans. RB Fred Jackson must carry running game until leading rusher Marshawn Lynch returns from three-game suspension. O-line must come together for everything to work. Rating: 3.0.

Defense: DEs Aaron Schobel, who returns from foot injury, and first-round pick Aaron Maybin are keys to improving anemic pass rush. LBs Paul Posluszny, Kawika Mitchell and Keith Ellison had better stay healthy because experience is lacking behind them. CB Terrence McGee and FS Donte Whitner lead athletic secondary. Rating: 3.5.

Special teams: Roscoe Parrish and Leodis McKelvin are dynamic return men. Distance, accuracy and hang time are P Brian Moorman's fortes. K Rian Lindell seeks bounce-back year. Coverage is as good as it gets. Rating: 5.0.

Coaching: Dick Jauron has players' respect despite losing track record. He's rolling dice by replacing O-coordinator Turk Schonert with novice Alex Van Pelt. Rating: 2.5.

On the spot: Edwards. Time to show he is truly the answer under center.

Prediction: Will this team ever see the playoffs again? Record: 6-10.

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