May. 28, 2020
Projected NFL Standings: AFC EAST EDITION
Over the past two decades, the AFC East has been dominated by the New England Patriots. The Patriots have won the past 11 division titles, the longest streak in NFL history. The Bills, Dolphins, and Jets all took a big sigh of relief when Tom Brady decided to take his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the first time in a long time, the Patriots aren't the overwhelming favorite to win the division. Will a new team take control of the AFC East or will the Patriots remain in power? Let's take a look at my projected standings for the AFC East.
Buffalo Bills: (10-6)
While it's difficult to ever count the Patriots out, I think the 11-year division title streak ends here. The Bills' aggressive actions in the offseason should tell you how close they think they are to being a contender. Look no further than the trade for star wide receiver, Stefon Diggs. Pairing Diggs with Cole Beasley and John Brown makes for a dangerous wide receiver core. While the offense is improved, the defense is still the best unit on the Bills. The defense should remain a top tier unit this season after a strong 2019. How far the Bills can go will depend on their quarterback Josh Allen. Allen has had some accuracy issues throughout his career. For the Bills to get to where they want to go, Allen will need to put some of those concerns to rest.
New England Patriots: (8-8)
Even though I don't have the Patriots winning the division, I'm not someone who think's they'll crash and burn either. The Patriots still have loads of talent on the defensive side of the ball. The defense alone will carry the Patriots to some wins. Opinions vary about Jarett Stidham, but I see him having an up and down season. He's a young quarterback and nobody really know's what to expect. That being said, there's hope that some of the weapons around him can show improvement. N'Keal Harry could take a second-year leap after he was hampered with injures his rookie year. The Patriots could get some tight end production after they double-dipped in the draft, by selecting Devis Asasi and Dalton Keene. The Patriots will still have offensive struggles but their defense should get them to around 8-8.
Miami Dolphins: (5-11)
The Dolphins took big steps forward this offseason. The defense got better after adding edge guys Shaq Lawson and Emmanual Ogbah, do it all linebacker Kyle Van Noy, and star corner Byron Jones. The Dolphins addressed their quarterback need when they selected Tua Tagovailoa with the 4th overall selection in the draft. With Tagovailoa having health concerns, it will be interesting to see how the Dolphins handle the quarterback position this season.
While the Dolphins improved, there are still holes that will hold them back. It remains to be seen if all the additions on defense will be enough to fix a unit that was one of the worst in football a year ago. The Dolphins also needed massive improvements to a bad offensive line. They selected Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt in the first two rounds of the draft. In free agency, they added Ted Karras and Ereck Flowers. I'm not confident that fixes all the problems upfront. In the end, there are still too many holes, and young guys playing important positions for the Dolphins to do much better than 5 wins. With that being said, the future is bright in Miami.
New York Jets: (5-11)
Some believe this could be the year for the Jets to make a move in the AFC East. I don't buy it. For starters, I just don't buy Adam Gase as a head coach. I do like Darnold as a quarterback, and it was a good move for the Jets to add free agent Breshard Perriman. They also drafted Baylor wide receiver, Denzel Mims. Darnold needed some weapons to play with. I still think they could use another guy or two at the wide receiver position.
A major problem last year was the offensive line. The Jets essentially added a whole new offensive line in free agency and the draft. The Jets selected Mekhi Becton 11th overall. The Jets will need their revamped offensive line to play better than what they had last year to show real improvements on offense. It would also be a huge problem for the Jets defense if they are forced to move on from Jamal Adams. There are still too many holes on the Jets for me to see breakout year.
I'll take a look at the AFC West next. Let me know if you agree or disagree.