AFC East predictions after the Aaron Rodgers trade to the Jets

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after rushing for a first down during
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after rushing for a first down during / Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal

Aaron Rodgers is no longer the Green Bay Packers quarterback and the AFC East is a lot more competitive after his addition to the Jets. How does the AFC East shake out after the deal?

The AFC East was a conference ruled by the New England Patriots for more than a decade. Then the Buffalo Bills took it over and the Miami Dolphins began clawing their way back into the discussion. Now, another team wants to stake a claim for the division but can the Jets really make a big impact on the chase for the division?

Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback. A Hall of Fame quarterback but Rodgers has had the privilge of playing in the NFC North. Since 2012, the Vikings made the playoffs five times, all double digit win totals on the season. The rest of those years were at or below .500 sans one in 2018 when they were 8-7-1.

The Bears and the Lions? Let's just say Rodgers road to the division wasn't a tough one and this is important because the Packers had a very good football team around Rodgers. He won no Super Bowls in that time period. In fact, he has one Super Bowl, 2010, in his entire career.

So while the Jets are getting a great QB and they have a lot of talent around him on both sides of the ball, there are no guarantees that the Jets are going to run the table and take the division.

The Buffalo Bills are still the team to beat in the AFC East.

The Bills are still the Bills. They have a defense more than capable of creating problems for the Rodgers led Jets and they have the fire power on offense to expose the defense. Last season the Bills split with the Jets and with Rodgers at the helm, it is likely they split again.

The Miami Dolphins are still the underrated team in the AFC East. The national media rarely recognizes Tua Tagovailoa as a top quarterback in the division, let alone the entire AFC or the NFL. In a recent post on social media, one national outlet listed eight quarterbacks from the AFC, a kind of "AFC is stacked at QB". They listed Rodgers, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, and Lamar Jackson. They did not mention Tua.

Miami has improved defensively and are still expected to make another move on offense. Maybe the addition of a top running back. Regardless, the Dolphins split with the Jets last year with Skylar Thompson at the helm and Teddy Bridgewater taking a single snap. The fact Miami split with the Jets last year should be reason enough to believe that at the very least, Miami does so again.

At the bottom of the pile is the New England Patriots and frankly, despite splitting with the Dolphins, the Patriots lost all of their other AFC East games. It is hard to see a path for the Patriots in the East again this year and chances are they are the bottom team in the division.

The AFC East is going to be tough and as such, the out of division games are going to be just as important to each of those teams. If the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins split, those "like" division games could be the tie-breakers for the division. If one of these three teams can sweep another that could be the catalyst to a division title without the need of out of division games.

Each game within the division next year will be important. Rodgers changes the dynamic of the AFC East but he is not going to give the Jets the upper edge. He should give the Jets another three wins on the season and that would put New York at 10 wins on the season.

It is possible that all three of those teams finish with double-digit win totals in 2023.

So who wins the division? You have to stick with the Bills as the favorite. They are more developed and cohesive as a team right now but the Miami Dolphins should be challenging this year if Tua stays health.

Yes, the Jets now have Rodgers and as a result they will be in the thick of the chase as well but I see a path to each team winning 11 or 12 games and one area that helps the Jets more than the Bills and the Dolphins is that New York will play their season against the other 4th place teams in the AFC. That could make a big difference as the Bills will place the first place teams and the Dolphins, the 2nd.