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Is it Miami that's set to topple Pats?

Posted by Albert Breer  May 17, 2010 10:37 AM

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I've said, several times this offseason, that I'm leaning toward picking the Dolphins to win the AFC East in 2010, even with all the hoopla over the Jets' big offseason and late 2009 charge.

Finally, I've got some company. Maybe he'll wind up just occupying the seat next to me on a sinking ship of predictions, but SI.com's Peter King has Miami as the top team in the East in his May power rankings. The Dolphins are sixth, the Jets are seventh, and the Patriots come in 14th, on the outside fringe of the playoff picture, with an according explanation:

I still don't know who will rush the passer, who the shutdown corner is, who the Mike Vrabel/Rodney Harrison defensive leader is, and if there's enough depth at wide receiver to survive until Wes Welker returns.
Maybe Darius Butler, Leigh Bodden or Devin McCourty answers the first question, someone like Vince Wilfork answers the second, and Taylor Price and Brandon Tate come through to answer the third. We'll see.

What I like about Miami is a young quarterback who's better than a lot of people realize, a good group of young complementary receivers that now has its No. 1 to take the pressure off, a bullying running game, and a solid defense with a lot of ascending players that added a big-time playmaker in Karlos Dansby. All that, and the fact that this team was ravaged by injury last year (Chad Pennington, Ronnie Brown, Jason Ferguson, Will Allen), and still scratched and clawed to 7-9, and could have easily been 10-6, while young players took those vets' spots and got better. And they went 3-1 against the Patriots and Jets.

I might be crazy, but I think there are fewer of those "questions" with that team than there potentially could be with New York or New England. Then again, I'm not soothsayer with these types of forecasts either.

One thing seems certain: It'll be a dogfight with these three in the division, and the East could be as competitive as it's been since the days of Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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