2020 AFC East Preview: Can The Surging Bills Win Their First Division Title Since 1995? Or Will Cam Newton and The Patriots Spoil Buffalo’s Offseason Party? – BlackSportsOnline
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2020 AFC East Preview: Can The Surging Bills Win Their First Division Title Since 1995? Or Will Cam Newton and The Patriots Spoil Buffalo’s Offseason Party?

Today, I’m making my way to the AFC East, and previewing the the division Bill Belichick has dominated for the vast majority of his tenure as a head coach.

Before a certain ex-MVP signed a deal with the Patriots, I had the Bills winning the division pretty easily, but now I sit here rethinking the entire potential pecking order of the AFC East. Does Cam Newton’s arrival in Foxborough tilt the AFC East division crown back towards Bill Belichick’s Patriots? Or do the Bills still sit firmly in the driver’s seat to win their first division title since 1995?

I’ll say this, I truly believe it’ll be a dogfight in this division race. Both teams have strong defenses, and both teams have some lingering questions about their starting quarterback. Take all of that, give it a shake, and you’ll end up with the very valuable answers jar being as empty as some endless land in the countryside.

This is the first division I’ve had some trouble picking a winner for, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Let’s jump into it.

Best Offense: Buffalo Bills

Now now, settle down, I’ll explain myself.

Look, Cam Newton’s addition to the Patriots is no doubt a game changing transaction, but I’m too concerned with a couple of variables that could make or break whether the Patriots’s offense can truly meet expectations. Josh McDaniels, so far during his tenure as Patriots OC, has proven he can work well with different names at quarterback outside of Tom Brady, so I’m not too concerned with him moving forward.

What I’am concerned about, is the supporting cast that’s going to be relied on heavily this upcoming year. Outside of Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu, there’s just not a lot to be confident about with this Patriots wide receiver group. 2019 1st round pick, N’Keal Harry, struggled mightily against the physical aspects of defensive secondary play in the NFL. He’s never had a lot of straight line speed, so his struggles against press coverage weren’t that difficult to predict heading into his rookie year. Still, his big frame and upside in the red zone doesn’t make his outlook completely bleak.

Behind those 3, are free agent addition Marqise Lee, and 2019 regular Jakobi Meyers.


James White, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead still bring some added versatility in the passing game, but even the combined targets for those 3 won’t be enough to make this passing attack as threatening as it needs to be. Oh jeez, and I even forgot their tight end situation, but I won’t get too involved in that mess.

The Bills on the other hand, still have John Brown and Cole Beasley, plus they added Stefon Diggs in the offseason. Those 3 guys round out a very respectable wide receiver group, a group that Josh McDaniels would absolutely love to have at his disposal right about now. I guess the only upside for the Patriots in this specific topic, is that Josh Allen has yet to prove he can consistently throw the ball with basic accuracy. Other than that, it’s not all that close in my humble opinion.

Newton’s addition to the Patriots will make for some juicy headlines, but not for an exciting brand of football from this Patriots offense.

Best Defense: New England Patriots

Yes, I’ve said that it’s ridiculous to depend on elite play year to year from a single defensive unit. There’s too many variables involved that could make or break a defense’s success, and it takes a lot of luck to keep lady luck on your side for a prolonged period of time.

But…..can you let this one slide? Just this one time?

Hear me out. Time and time again, we’ve seen numerous personalities across the league, declare the Patriots’s dynasty to be dead, only for that same team to turn around and somehow hoist another Vince Lombardi trophy. I’ve been guilty of it as well, and I’m not ready to risk it all, and make the same proclamation that’s burned me so many times in the past.

This Patriots defense still has the majority of their core intact, and even though the defense isn’t exactly on the younger side of the spectrum, it’s still full of veterans that understand Belichick’s system and will run it to the best of their ability.

The Bills defense is legit, and boasts some exciting young talent waiting to make a splash, but I’d roll with the side that has more experience and is more of a proven commodity.

I love Tre’Davious White though, if that counts for anything.

Impact Rookie: Denzel Mims, New York Jets

A couple of months ago, I picked Denzel Mims to have the highest impact of any rookie within the AFC East, I’m sticking with that decision.

The safest, and most obvious choice here would be Tua Tagovailoa, but I’m a little concerned on whether the Dolphins will turn him loose. Tagovailoa went through countless speculation about his hip injury throughout the NFL draft process, and there was a very good reason why.

Tagovailoa’s hip injury was serious, and even though he might say he’s 100% recovered from it now, I find it difficult to imagine the Dolphins not at least considering redshirting him until they as a franchise declare he’s ready to go. Plus, it isn’t like the Dolphins particularly need him to start right away, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a thick bearded veteran who’s proven to be a reliable option as a stopgap/backup at times.

Denzel Mims finds himself on an offense that has a nice role ready for him, due to the departure of Robby Anderson, and the lack of true overall upside at the wide receiver position. Mims won’t find himself as the WR1 at first, since Breshaud Perriman and Jamison Crowder both look primed to handle the majority of targets in this passing offense, but I truly think Mims can ascend up that depth chart and start receiving a good amount of targets as the season rolls along.

Patience will be needed with Mims at first, but with the upside and overall talent Mims possesses, I think he’s a candidate to put on a good show in the Big Apple this upcoming season.

Biggest Disappointment: New York Jets

We’ve seen a lot of laughing and joking regarding the Cleveland Browns’s lack of success over the last 20 years or so. There’s been a revolving door of quarterbacks, a very concerning amount of coaches fired, and an owner that just doesn’t know what he’s doing, even when he’s actually trying to put the best product on the field.

But what if I told you, that there’s another franchise out there that’s been stuck in a pitch black pit of misery just like the Browns. Yes, you guessed it, the freaking New York Jets! For the last 10 years, this team has only made the playoffs once, and has only finished with a record better than .500 only 3 times.

For a team in the largest market in the country, that’s unacceptable.

Jump froward to 2020, and the situation surrounding the team isn’t full daffodils and daisies. Jamal Adams wants out on New York, Sam Darnold looks atrocious, Adam Gase is yet again running a team into the ground, and there’s just no end in sight for when this disappointment of a squad might pick things up on the field.

It’s a mess, a mess I’m sure plenty of you all are lucky you don’t have to clean up.

This team has failed to surround their young quarterback with a serviceable amount of overall talent, and they’re stuck relying on a coach that’s left problems with the previous franchise he ran. I don’t know, it’s just a total mess, and I don’t know how they’re going to find their way out of it.

I guess you can always beg for a miracle, but how often does that work out?

Sleeper Team: Miami Dolphins

Embrace it Dolphins fans, your team actually has a set of expectations to meet this year, and they don’t involve purposefully plummeting to the bottom of the league.

Brian Flores’s team found a spark at the end of last season. The offense found some consistency, and the defense made some plays that encouraged some hope for the future. Now with their franchise quarterback in the building, and a defense with some added talent via free agency, it isn’t too crazy to expect an increase in wins for this Dolphins squad.

I’m not talking a playoff spot, but this team has enough toughness and grit to squeak out an extra win or 2.

How Many Teams In The Playoffs: 2

While it’s still too difficult to predict a division winner at this point, I think I’m confident in this division’s chances to send 2 teams to the postseason. However, I have some real concerns on whether if the Patriots can hold up their end of the bargain, especially with how difficult their schedule looks.

With matchups against the Seahawks, 49ers, Chiefs, Ravens, and the Bills(twice), it doesn’t look rather promising for the Patriots playoff hopes in 2020.

But, whenever you have Bill Belichick on your side, and a proven offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, you can’t truly count this team out just yet.

With that in mind, I’ll go ahead and slide the Patriots in as a wild card team, but not without some sort of added caution.

Division Winner: Bills

Although I’m still not sold on Josh Allen just yet, his surrounding cast and that nasty Bills defense should be enough to give Buffalo their first division title in 25 years. Still though, there’s always that outside chance that the Patriots could find their selves being awarded yet another division crown.

It’ll be a fight to the finish, but I’ll safely pick the Bills right now.