Football Outsiders ran its early projections for the NFL in 2017. It is important to note that this is a snapshot in time. In a few weeks, teams will add new players in the NFL Draft, which will change things.
The early prediction is bad news for the AFC East outside of New England.
1. New England Patriots: 13-3 (13.2 mean wins; strength of schedule: 32)
2. Buffalo Bills: 7-9 (6.9 mean wins; SOS: 23)
3. Miami Dolphins: 6-10 (6.3 mean wins; SOS: 18)
4. New York Jets: 6-10 (6.3 mean wins; SOS: 25)
If you're sick of seeing the Patriots at the top of the AFC year after year, I have some bad news for you: New England has a top-five projection in all three phases of the game. On top of that, we also project the Patriots with the easiest schedule in the NFL for 2017. We're forecasting decline for many of their out-of-division opponents, including Atlanta, Denver and Kansas City. Meanwhile, the rest of the AFC East comes in under .500, although this initial Dolphins projection seems a bit over-pessimistic. The Dolphins' 10-6 record last season was built on an easy schedule, but Miami wasn't a bad team that lucked into a playoff spot, just an average one. On the other hand, the offensive projection is driven by the quarterback, and Ryan Tannehill has finished 24th and 27th in QBR over the past two seasons.
As much as people might normally get riled about about a prediction the Jets will be tied for last, this actually seems like a decent projection for the Jets. They are projecting an improved record from 2016 even though it isn’t clear the Jets has improved much if at all so far in the offseason.