Buffalo Bills Training Camp: AFC East Power Rankings

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Jul 31, 2015; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defense of tackle C.J. Mosley (94) during practice drills at Doctors Hospital Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

3) Miami Dolphins

There are a lot of Miami Dolphins folks who believe their team is deserving of being ranked second in the AFC East, and to be fair, this isn’t entirely unjustified. One of the key reasons for this is their defensive line, which is comparable to the Bills – even more so now.

Having Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon rushing from the ends is bad enough, but now you throw in Ndamukong Suh to cause some havoc, and it almost isn’t fair. No matter how dirty Suh is, there is no arguing the superior talent of the four-time First-Team All-Pro.

You can bet this will be music to the ears of Brent Grimes, who finished third in the NFL last season in interceptions. The cornerback has made the Pro Bowl in both of his seasons in Miami, and can only benefit once again from a monster pass rush up front.

It would come as no surprise to see the pass defense exceeding last year’s ranking of sixth in the NFL. In fact, the defense as a whole should easily improve on their 2014 ranking of 12th.

Before anyone forgets, the Dolphins also have some ability on the offense, which will be led by Ryan Tannehill. The 27-year old will be full of confidence, especially after signing a contract extension through the 2020 season

Whatever his critics might say, Tannenhill offers the first real stability the Dolphins have had since Dan Marino retired. (Ironically, in Lamar Miller, Tannehill arguably has a better running threat than Marino ever enjoyed during his illustrious career.) The 2012 eighth overall draft pick’s biggest challenge will be adapting to a revamped receiving core, which lost three of their top four pass catchers from last year (including Clay who, of course, signed with the Bills).

One last thing to consider is how the offensive line will be impacted by two-time Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey returning to center, after playing guard in 2014 – his leadership will be key to a unit which added several veterans and draft pick Jamil Douglas during the offseason. Overall, assuming the Patriots finish atop the AFC East as usual, the Dolphins will fight the Bills all the way for second place, and a realistic shot at a wild card spot.

Next: Last, but necessarily least