Over at SBNation.com, NFL Editor Joel Thorman has ranked the 2011 last-place finishers from each division based on how likely they are to make the "worst to first" jump. In the AFC East, the division the Patriots won for the third straight year in 2011, the last place team was Buffalo. Thorman ranks the Bills at seventh:
The Bills will absolutely be better in 2012. They added Mario Williams, which was a huge move for a team that's looking to stop one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Tom Brady. Unfortunately, it's unlikely the Bills did enough to topple the Patriots.
I can see them finishing the season second in the AFC East if all goes well, but the Bills aren't yet at the level where they can be considered a good worst-to-first candidate with the Patriots in the same division.
It's not hard to disagree with Thorman's assessment. The Buffalo Bills are certainly a really improved team. Considering their strong start to the 2011 season, it's hard to even imagine that the team did indeed finish last in the division (via tiebreaker with Miami). I think that, based on the moves they have made, they could very well finish with 9-10 wins and compete for a wildcard spot. At the same time, I'd find it hard to imagine the Patriots finishing with a worse record than Buffalo.
All of this being said, which AFC East team do you think stands the best chance at unseating the Patriots as division champs in 2012? Is it the aforementioned Bills? The rival Jets? The Dolphins, the only other team to win the crown since 2002?