5 things to look for in 2018

Will the Patriots dominate the division again, or will another team step up to challenge them? Here are five things to look for in the AFC East in 2018.

Are you ready for some football?

The 2018 NFL season kicks off in less than a month, and until then, teams will be sending their players out onto the field for preseason games over the next four weeks while fans pray to the football gods that nobody gets injured.

In the meantime, however, as we build up to the big moment between the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 6, I’ll be breaking down all eight NFL divisions and discussing five things fans should look for within each division in the 2018 season. Nothing helps you get in the mood for football quite like some good, old fashion reading.

So without further ado, here are five things to look for in the AFC East in 2018…

5. Rookie QBs in Buffalo and New York

This is actually one of the most interesting subplots in the entire NFL, not just in the AFC East. Both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets selected quarterbacks within the top 10 in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York chose Sam Darnold from USC at No. 3 overall, while Buffalo selected Josh Allen from Wyoming at No. 7 overall.

These are two teams that have been struggling for years to find franchise quarterbacks, and at last, both teams may finally have landed the guy they’ve been anxiously waiting for. However, both rookies will be raw coming into the NFL, and it’s highly unlikely that either is named the starting quarterback for Week 1.

So the interesting question here is this: which rookie quarterback will be the first to take over the starting job?

The Jets will likely be turning back to 39-year-old veteran Josh McCown to keep the throne warm until they feel Darnold is ready. McCown is a seasoned veteran who has played for 10 different teams in 16 seasons, and he’ll have plenty to teach the 21-year-old rookie. McCown did suffer a broken hand in December of last year, however, and if something like that happens again, Darnold’s time to jump into the spotlight will arrive.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, it will likely be newcomer AJ McCarron competing with last year’s backup Nathan Peterman for the No. 1 spot while Allen is groomed on the sidelines for at least one season.

Having backed up Andy Dalton for four years in Cincinnati, this will be McCarron’s first opportunity to earn a starting job, and with Peterman’s poor performances last year, it’s hard to imagine McCarron not getting it. But if the Bills find themselves in a tough spot at any point in the year, they might decide that they want to turn to their prize rookie.

No matter what, it feels like an opportunity will open up at some point in 2018 for either Darnold or Allen, and it will be very intriguing to see which rookie gets the nod first. Since it could very much depend on the health of a 39-year-old quarterback, Darnold probably has the best chance of seeing the field first.

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