It's been seven long years since a team dethroned the New England Patriots for the AFC East crown--and even that comes with an asterisk, as Tom Brady was sideline the entire season with a torn ACL. The Miami Dolphins capitalized on the misfortunes of the Pats, beating them out by having a better conference record, despite finishing with identical 11-5 records.
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That's why, with Tom Brady missing four games to start the season, it would be best for the rest of the AFC East to, once again, strike while the iron's hot. Former New York Jets running back Ladainian Tomlinson seems to think the team most poised to do so is none other than his Jets.
"If there's ever a year to knock off the Patriots, it has to be this year for the Jets or for somebody else to win this division," Tomlinson told ESPN.com's Rich Cimini. "It has to be the Jets. When you think about it, they have enough experience on both sides of the ball. If Ryan (Fitzpatrick) can play at the level he played last year -- and maybe just a little bit more -- they should do it. They should do it. He's had his best years under (offensive coordinator) Chan Gailey. That's why I'm so optimistic."
Tomlinson isn't exactly calling Fitzpatrick "elite," like some are, but he does make some interesting points. Fitzpatrick did throw for a franchise-record 31 touchdowns last season and the Jets came within a game of making the playoffs in Week 17. The Jets won't see New England until Week 12, so starting quickly will be paramount, albeit difficult.
The Jets first four games are against the Cincinnati Bengals, at the Buffalo Bills, at the Kansas City Chiefs and against the Seattle Seahawks.
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