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The AFC East is a Disaster and the Patriots Will Benefit

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The AFC East is still a mess and it's clear that no franchise is ready to challenge the Patriots.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills (former) head coach Doug Marrone just opted out of his contract and is now a free agent. Apparently Marrone asked the new owners for an extension for himself and his coaches, which the Pegulas rightly refused. Marrone gives the Bills an early New Year's surprise, following the announced retirement of quarterback Kyle Orton. Yes, Buffalo will be heading into 2015 without a head coach, a quarterback, or a first round pick.

At least they get former General Manager Bill Polian back in the fold, even though he's had arguably just one successful draft since 2003 (2006, with Joseph Addai, Tim Jennings, Antoine Bethea, and Charlie Johnson. I'd argue that 2004, with Bob Sanders, Jake Scott, and, ahem, Jim Sorgi wasn't overly successful). Polian was a great team architect, but his tenure with the Colts would have been a disaster without Peyton Manning.

The Jets have fired head coach Rex Ryan after they missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The rumored replacement? Former Bills coach Doug Marrone. The New York franchise is run by owner Woody Johnson, who seems destined to set the clock back to the 1990s, with the appointment of former 90s Washington GM Charley Casserly as a consultant. Casserly doesn't know how to use Google.

To be fair, they also picked Ron Wolf as a second consultant, and he's been wildly successful. But they're the Jets and they're many years away from any sort of contention when looking at the roster outside their offensive skill players and the defensive line.

The Dolphins have opted to retain head coach Joe Philbin for the 2015 season. His Dolphins teams have been the epitome of average. Miami has been within two games of .500 for all but one point in his three years as head coach (they started 2013 3-0). They've finished the year 7-9, 8-8, and 8-8. They've hit the midway point at 4-4, 4-4, and 5-3.

Yes, Ryan Tannehill has taken another step forward and looks to be above the Andy Dalton Divide for quarterback competency. But wide receiver Mike Wallace was benched for the second half of the Dolphins Week 17 game for "quitting on the team." The defense fell from 7th, to 8th, to 20th this year.

That's the AFC East. They're good enough to cause issues and to play annual spoiler for other teams; they're definitely not good enough to stake a claim to the AFC East.

The Patriots offense has ranked 1st, 3rd, 1st, 3rd, and 4th over the past five years. The defense has ranked 8th, 15th, 9th, 10th, and 8th over the past five years. The Patriots have won at least 12 regular season games over the past five seasons, earning a first round bye each year.

This is the Patriots division until further notice. The other teams are just noise.