The main reason why I think the Jets supplant the Patriots is their youth.
They proved throughout the playoffs last year that they could run with the big dogs in the AFC. Their defense was one of the best in the NFL, and they only got better on both sides of the ball. With a little tweaking from their blitz-heavy package that got them to the AFC Championship, the Jets probably could be the best defense in the NFL.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez looked great as a rookie, despite the numbers, and he can only get better from there. Factor in a pretty soft schedule (five games this year against playoff teams), and the Meadowlands will be celebrating their first AFC East Championship since 2002.
However, don’t think it’ll be a cakewalk, Jets fans. Their rival, the Miami Dolphins, are getting strong as well. Their offense and defense are as strong (maybe slightly weaker) than the powerful Jets, and could give them a run for their money. However, with a much tougher schedule (seven playoff teams to the Jets’ five), I give the edge to the Jets. I think that the AFC East is the best division in the conference this year, so it’s not a stretch to think there will be three playoff teams from there. However, with the aging Patriots and the still-rebuilding Dolphins, I give the East to the Jets.