Death, Taxes, and the Patriots winning the AFC East, For the past 18 years, nothing has been a more accurate statement. New England has dominated this division since 2001, this was Brady and Bill’s Division, and no one could deny it. The Jets have had glimmers of hope (2009-2011), but have been a consistent top 5 draft pick team, and the Bills had failed to capture that magic they had in the early ’90s. The Dolphins have been searching for their franchise guy since Marino retired. This was the Patriots division. Make your predictions, it's Patriots with the hat and t-shirts by November. During this era, you are looking at a team that won the division every single season except, 2002 and 2008 “Brady’s ACL Tear, 16 out of 18 years is pretty dang impressive. Nothing indeed lasts forever, however, as Brady has left the Patriots for greener pasters with the Bucs. This division is wide open now and it all starts with the improved QBs and coaching staff!
(Photo Credit: Jeff Roberson/ AP Photo)
Look no further than the Bills, the champions of the AFC East in 2020. Josh Allen took the biggest step forward of his career and finished as the #1 QB in fantasy this past season. Throwing for 37 TDs and rushing for another 8, Allen had the best season of his young career. The off-season trade for Stefon Diggs was also a huge part of Allen’s growth and gave them an alpha wide receiver that could change the entire complexion of the offense. Diggs was a top 3 receiver his first year in Buffalo and finished with over 1500 yards receiving and 8 TDs. It looks as if the Bills made the right decision when they selected Josh Allen #7 overall out of Wyoming, as Allen looks like he could be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, along with his right-hand man Diggs. The Bills finished with a 13 and 3 record, the second seed in the AFC, and were a game away from playing in their first Superbowl since Jim Kelly was the QB. Needless to say, Bills Mafia is amped and excited to see what the future holds for their team. This roster is built to compete right now and looks like the best bet to win this division as it currently stands.
(Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Next up we have the new-look Miami Dolphins, a team led by Brian Flores, one of the smartest minds to come out of the Belichick tree in a long time. The 2020 Dolphins are a team that was fresh off a 5 and 11 season, and they had one of the biggest turn- arounds in quite some time, finishing with a 10- 6 record, and only missing the playoffs by one game. This is a team that just loaded up on offensive talent addressing the WR position in both free agency and the draft, signing Will Fuller to a one-year deal, while drafting Jaylen Waddle with their 6th overall pick. This is also a team that had a surprising upstart from Myles Gaskin last season and drafted their QB of the future in Tua Tagovalioa. The future is looking bright in Miami as well, and this team should take another big step forward in 2021.
(Photo Credit: Bill Kostroun/ AP Photo)
The Jets, on the other hand, boasted a very poor 28th ranked defense, and an even worse 32nd ranked offense. This was a season where they were basically handicapped by their head coach Adam Gase. The defense struggled all season long and the offense that had such talent as Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith also struggled to compete on a consistent basis. The Jets to no surprise were one of the worst teams in the league this year. This led them to draft Zach Wilson with their first pick and also trading back up into the first round to select Alijah Vera Tucker out of USC, trading two third rounds picks, to move one spot ahead of the Patriots ironically. This team seems to be on the right track with their coaching hire of Robert Saleh, but it all remains to be seen what the future holds for them.
(Photo Credit: Chris O'Meara/ AP Photo)
Last but not least we have the New England Patriots. A team that finished with a losing record for the first time since 2000. What changed with this team? The obvious answer is Tom Brady is gone, and he can no longer save the day for this team. This team was led by Cam Newton, His first-year starting in the Patriots system and boy did it ever start out promising. Newton had a solid game against the Dolphins and an awesome near comeback against the Seahawks. Then a few weeks later Covid hit the Patriots hard. Their biggest game of the year against the Chiefs and their starting QB was out, it felt like after this point they were never able to regain their footing, and the rest of the season began to be marked with inconsistency. To be honest, this team had a ton of holes on it and lacked the talent we have come to expect from a Patriots-coached team. You had glimpses like the Ravens game in the Rain, the near comeback I spoke of, and the Blowout against the Chargers. But then you had the whopping by San Francisco. The smacking by the Rams, and the nail in the coffin the loss to the Dolphins to end their playoff hopes.
If we gain anything from last season and its crazy covid situation its this division is wide open again. The Bills look like a Super Bowl contender; Dolphins are building a nice program in Miami and the Patriots just spend a “gazillion” in free agency and are damn sure not looking to have another losing season. Hell, even the Jets have made some decent signings, but they still have a long way to go. Either way it Will be exciting to see how this season unfolds.
Tune in the following week for my updated predictions for each team and the count down begins till football season!
(Cover Photo Credit: NFL & Couch Guy Sports / Yahoo Sports)