ESPN The Magazine: AFC East preview

It's the Patriots -- and then a huge drop-off to everyone else

Updated: September 1, 2009, 8:03 AM ET
By ESPN The Magazine staff
Getty ImagesTom Brady is back, and honestly, that changes everything here.

These division previews appear in the Sept. 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Projected order of finish

1. New England Patriots (11-5)

With Tom Brady back, expect the offense to be stellar again. But if the Pats want to make a Super Bowl run, they'll need rookie defenders like Darius Butler and Patrick Chung to mature quickly and veterans such as Adalius Thomas to discover the fountain of youth.

2. Miami Dolphins (6-10)

No defense suffered fewer injuries in 2008, a fact that papered over the team's lack of depth. The Fins tried to remedy that problem by drafting corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. But can those rooks really set up against Terrell Owens and Randy Moss?

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