The super trending pick in the AFC East is picking the Buffalo Bills to win the division. The reality is the Bills clearly have the most returning talent and have added some key ingredients to their team that actually justify those predictions. Still, the New England Patriots have won 11 AFC East titles in a row and 16 out of the last 17. To say the Patriots organization has been dominated is almost an understatement if you consider all the consistent winning the team has pulled off during the era of free agency.
The reality is the Patriots draft well, especially in the later rounds. They are famous for locating overlooked talent late in drafts. Then there is the way the Patriots are able to add free-agents at deeply discounted prices. Belichick finds those players who want a ring more than the money.
Sure, Tom Brady has moved on to the early-bird dinner retirement community of the Tampa Bucs, but something tells me that Bill Belichick will once again find a way to reign supreme in the AFC East.
New England Patriots: 10-6
Buffalo Bills: 9-7
Miami Dolphins: 7-9
New York Jets: 6-10
The Dolphins are rebuilding and the Jets took an unprovoked step back last year when they hired Adam Gase as their head coach. I suspect that the Dolphins are going to continue to improve and once Tua Tagovailoa takes over at QB the Dolphins will become significantly more difficult to defend.
My guess is defenses will struggle the first time they see Tua who has the talent to be a true franchise quarterback, plus Brian Flores has done a great job removing the culture that Adam Gase left behind.
The Jets are a mess because Adam Gase is the king of demotivating players to the point they want to leave the greatest city in the world. The Jets are entering the season with 3 QB’s on their 53 man roster and have two additional QB’s sitting on their practice squad. Maybe Gase thinks he’s managing the Mets with his 5 quarterback rotation?
Now I’m a big fan of the Jets GM Joe Douglas who did an excellent job in the draft this past year. Don’t forget Douglas inherited a mess created by the teams CEO Christopher Johnson who hired Gase two weeks after he was fired by the Dolphins. Douglas certainly has the skills to turn the Jets franchise around, but I don’t think that will happen until he is able to bring in his own head coach.
Then there are the Buffalo Bills who traded for the Minneapolis Miracle wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the offseason. The NFL’s No. 3-ranked defense got stronger in the draft and will be entering their fourth season playing an aggressive 4-3, zone coverage scheme. Depth is the key to their defensive success.
As for the offense, QB Josh Allen has proved that he is a winner and has won over the locker room. Adding Diggs with John Brown and Cole Beasley turns this WR group into one of the most versatile in the NFL.
The running game includes last year’s rookie sensation Devin Singletary with rookie running back Zack Moss. A strong running game will go a long way to opening up the deep ball threat of Josh Allens’ big arm. As you can see on paper the Bills should win the East in a landslide.
The MIGHTY Line
As great as Tom Brady was for most of his career in New England, the organization was even better and that’s one of the main reasons I think the Patriots will win the East.
Belichick who enters the season with a wide variety of players who opted-out because of concerns over Covid-19 has some huge gaps to fill on defense. The team also has some major gaps on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver. Yes, Julian Edelman is back, but after that, the wide receiver group is very young and lacks experience. One positive note is Gunner Olszewski who has looked great in training camp and could be the breakout star the team is looking for.
The running game remains solid with Sony Michel, James White, and the versatility of Rex Burkhead.
The signing of Cam Newton was a brilliant move by the Patriots on so many levels. Newton will be one of the big reasons the Patriots are able to win their 12th division title in a row.
Newton has already won over the locker room and the coaching staff and it only took 6 weeks. He appears to be fresh and is certainly extra motivated to prove the rest of the NFL was wrong about him.
On paper, the Bills should win this division, but the games are played on the field and you can’t underestimate the strength of the Patriots organization and Belichicks’ ability to game plan his team to another division title.