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Divisional standouts – the top-graded players in AFC East play

Offense Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 86.2 All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has dominated AFC East defenses throughout the last decade, and the trend continued last season with an overall grade of 86.2 against division foes.
Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 83.9 To the delight of division rivals, Dion Lewis moved on from the AFC East during the offseason, but last season, Lewis was a force in the running game and as a pass catcher out of the backfield against the AFC East.
As a receiver, Lewis finished with 17 receptions, a 100.0 percent catch rate and his 134.1 passer rating when targeted ranked first among all running backs within the division.
Entering his fourth season in 2018, Mason allowed only eight total pressures on 217 pass block snaps a year ago and was one of seven guards in the division last season to not allow a sack.
In his first season against the AFC East, the Bills’ second-round pick allowed a pressure rate of 6.71% in 164 pass block snaps and was one of seven offensive tackles that didn’t give up a sack in division play.
Honorable Mentions: Brady led all AFC East quarterbacks with nine ‘big-time throws’ in division play last season.
Defense Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 91.1 In limited work against the AFC East, Terrence Brooks led all players with a 91.1 overall grade in division play.
Gilmore’s 89.5 grade in coverage ranked first among all defensive backs in the AFC East, and his 57.3 passer rating allowed was fifth-best within the division.
Brown’s 91.1 grade against the run was by far the best among interior defensive linemen in the AFC East, and his 14 run stops ranked first in the division as well.
The fourth-year corner ranked second with a grade of 87.9 in coverage against division foes a season ago, he allowed a 70.2 passer rating while in coverage, and his eight defensive stops against the pass led all AFC East defensive backs.

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Sep 24, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets safety Terrence Brooks (23) intercepts a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Leonte Carroo (88) on a fake punt in the 2nd half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season is rapidly approaching. Soon, talks of the top players and best teams will flood social media as each team’s fanbase will champion for their guys. One of those key components to be considered a top player is how well they stack up against their divisional rivals.

In our last look back at the 2017 season, we take a glimpse at the players who have the highest grades against their division rivals from a season ago. We’ll take a look at the top-10 grades on offense and defense only on contests against their respective divisions. How well did your favorite players play against the division last year? Don’t see them below? Grab a PFF Elite subscription for access to Premium Stats 2.0 to find out for yourself.

[This is a part of a series that will highlight the league’s highest-graded players when they take on their divisional rivals.]

Offense

Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 86.2

All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has dominated AFC East defenses throughout the last decade, and the trend continued last season with an overall grade of 86.2 against division foes. On 138 snaps in route, he caught 25-of-36 targets for 379 yards, generating a 131.8 passer rating. His five touchdowns against the AFC East led all receivers in the division, while his 2.75 yards per route run ranked first among tight ends. Gronkowski isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon and will continue to be a match-up nightmare within the division.

Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 83.9

To the delight of division rivals, Dion Lewis moved on from the AFC East during the offseason, but last season, Lewis was a force in the running game and as a pass catcher out of the backfield against the AFC East. The dual-threat back ranked first with 495 rushing yards in division play on 96 rushing attempts, and he was easily the most elusive back in the AFC East, forcing 22 missed tackles in the running game, doubling the next closest runner. As a receiver, Lewis finished with 17 receptions, a 100.0 percent catch rate and his 134.1 passer rating when targeted ranked first among all running backs within the division. Lewis will continue to be a menace out of the backfield with the Tennessee Titans in 2018.

Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 82.9

A longtime left tackle for quarterback Tom Brady, Nate Solder has also moved on from the AFC East this offseason. Solder was solid in pass protection last season during divisional play allowing a pressure rate of 7.08% on 212 pass block snaps. Solder finished with a 75.0 pass blocking grade against the division, and of his 15 pressures allowed, only one resulted in a sack. AFC East pass rushers now have hopes of taking down Tom Brady in division play this season as Solder will be protecting the blind side for Eli Manning and the New York Giants this season.

Overall Grade against AFC East teams: 81.8

Another anchor along the Patriots offensive line last season, Shaq Mason, finished with an 82.3 pass blocking grade which ranked second among guards in the division. Entering his fourth season in 2018, Mason allowed only eight total pressures on 217 pass block…

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