One of the most polarizing divisions in football, the order in the AFC East will be anyone’s guess in 2020 due to Tom Brady’s sudden departure from New England.
The Patriots dynasty hangs in the balance as second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham will be handed the presumptive keys to the franchise.
At least for now, Stidham appears to be the guy — as the Patriots drafted the Auburn gunslinger in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
It is yet to be seen whether or not Stidham will be the franchise quarterback in Foxborough, but the Pats seem to be set on using this upcoming season to see what the young buck can do.
Expect an up-and-down season from Stidham, as the offense is seriously depleted at the skill positions — lacking any playmakers on the outside.
However, the defense remains one of the best in football, so a division crown isn’t out of the cards for Bill Belichick’s bunch.
A top five defense supplemented with a solid running game could see New England right in the thick of things come December, as Bovada has the Patriots at +140 to take home the division crown, second to only Buffalo.
Will The Bills Prevail?
According to Bovada, Buffalo is now +120 to win the division. The current favorites in the East, the Bills have everything you look for in a perennial playoff contender.
The team is headlined by a savvy coaching staff and stout defense, as Buffalo ranked second in total defense last year. They also ranked fifth in the least penalties taken, which is a direct reflection of a disciplined, well-coached team.
Meanwhile, Josh Allen has been a huge winner this offseason, as the Bills traded their 2020 first-round pick for 26-year-old Pro Bowl receiver Stefon Diggs.
The acquisition will help transform this Buffalo offense, as they now feature a plethora of playmakers for the third-year quarterback out of Wyoming.
Wide receiver John Brown and running back Devin Singletary had breakout campaigns in 2019, and wide receiver Cole Beasley will now be able to work wonders out of the slot in McDermott’s West Coast offense.
The Bills will have no excuses this season, and anything short of a division crown would be a massive disappointment for the fans in Orchard Park.
Can the Jets Contend?
First-year general manager Joe Douglas had his hands full this offseason, as he was tasked with rebuilding this depleted Jets roster.
Devoid of talent, Douglas did everything he could to protect their franchise quarterback, as his focus centered around an offensive line that ranked last, according to Pro Football Focus.
The additions of center Connor McGovern, offensive guard Greg Van Roten, and offensive tackle George Fant were paramount for Douglas in free agency. He also added to the offensive line in the draft when he selected Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton 11th overall.
Douglas has made it his priority to protect Sam Darnold in a pivotal year for the young quarterback, as he must show serious development in year two of head coach Adam Gase’s system.
Second-round wide receiver Denzel Mims will help provide some much-needed firepower for this Jets offense, as this group was nothing short of anemic a year ago.
Expect a vastly improved squad on the offensive side of the football, which will help complement an already stout defense headlined by Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams worked wonders with this group last season, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t remain a top 10 defense in 2020.
The Jets could shock some people next season, as Gase now has the pieces in place to win what is now a wide-open AFC East.
What to Make of Miami?
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores did an incredible job last season, as the Dolphins went 5-4 down the stretch to salvage a rather lifeless campaign.
He now has Miami trending in the right direction, as a loaded 2020 draft class will do wonders in setting up a promising young roster.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely be the quarterback starter for Miami in Week 1, but expect Tua Tagovailoa to see the field sometime next season, as the signal-caller out of Alabama was picked fifth overall for a reason.
In what figures to be another rebuilding year for Flores’ group, they will by no means be an easy out next season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this ball club win six or seven games in 2020.
- Buffalo Bills: 10-6 (+120)
- New York Jets: 8-8 (+750)
- New England Patriots: 7-9 (+140)
- Miami Dolphins: 5-11 (+750)
The Bills will pull away in December to take home their first division crown since 1995, but expect the Jets to compete for a playoff spot, as the addition of a third Wild Card team will help bolster their postseason chances in 2020.