With the legendary Tom Brady taking his act out of New England for the warmer pastures of Tampa Bay, the perennially-powerful Patriots look like they could be in for the fight of their lives as they seek to extend their 11-year streak of coming out on top in the once, competitive AFC East.
NFL AFC East Divisional Odds After Draft
With the Pats being pursued by the Buffalo Bills first and foremost and the Miami Dolphins clearly changing their fortunes since naming Chris Grier as their GM and Brian Flores as their head coach, the AFC East looks like it could turn into a three-team fight to the finish in 2020.
Sure, the New York Jets still have a ways to go to get back in the division title mix, but again, each of New England’s division rivals have seen their odds of winning the AFC East improve simply because Tom Brady bolted from New England. With all of that said, and both, free agency and the 2020 NFL draft in the rear-view mirror, let’s find out which team is offering the best value against their 2020 AFC East division odds.
New England Patriots
- Odds To Win AFC East: +125
The Patriots won a dozen games last season, but they also fell to Miami in Week 17 to blow home-field advantage at least through the AFC Championship game. More importantly, the Patriots parted ways with superstar quarterback Tom Brady after 20 years and an unprecedented six Super Bowl titles. In his place, head coach Bill Belichick is apparently intent on going with untested second-year signal-caller Jarrett Stidham.
The New England Patriots traded out of the first round of the draft and they had a modest draft on the offensive side of the ball by selecting Alabama tackle Anfernee Jennings, UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi and Virginia Teach tight end Dalton Keene, all in the third round. On the defensive side of the ball, Belichick also drafted D-II safety Kyle Dugger and Michigan defensive end Josh Uche, both, in the second round.The Pats were phenomenal on defense last season in allowing a league-low 14.1 points per game, but there are some huge question marks on offense, starting at quarterback.
- Odds To Win AFC East:+135
The Bills have some high hopes heading into 2020 after going 10-6 last season and reaching the playoffs for the second time in three years under head coach Sean McDermott. Buffalo traded their first round pick to Minnesota for veteran Pro Bowl wide receiver Stephon Diggs while selecting Utah running back Zack Moss with the 86th overall pick in the draft. Buffalo also picked up Central Florida wide receiver Gabriel Davis in the fourth round, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and Oregon State wideout Isaiah Hodgins in the sixth round. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bills added an immediate starter in Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa in the second round. While the Bills made some nice additions on both side of the ball, what they’ll really need in order to succeed in 2020 is for young quarterback Josh Allen to improve his accuracy (58.8%).
New York Jets
- Odds To Win AFC East:+700
The Jets went a decent 7-9 in Year 1 of the Adam Gase era and they made some nice moves in free agency and the NFL draft to help upgrade an offense that finished the 2019 campaign ranked a dismal 32nd in total offense and 31st in scoring (17.3 ppg). New York signed veteran wide receiver Breshad Perriman and five veteran offensive linemen in free agency in addition to picking Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick in the draft. Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims in the second round, Florida running back Lamical Perine and Florida International quarterback James Morgan and Charlotte tackle Cameron Clarke in the fourth round. The Jets also brought in a handful of veteran defensive players in free agency, including cornerback Pierre Desir who is expected to start right away after leaving Indianapolis. New York selected Cal safety Ashtyn Davis and Florida defensive end Jabari Zuniga, both in the third round. Overall, the Jets did quite well in free agency and the draft.
- Odds To Win AFC East:+800
The Dolphins went 5-11 in Year 1 of their new era, but it was the most encouraging five-win season you’ve ever seen as Miami won four of their final five games, including a huge win over New England in their regular season finale. More importantly, the Fins have made a series of seriously positive moves all offseason. Miami upgraded their defense in a big way by signing former Cowboys Pro Bowl cornerback Byron Jones and former Patriots edge rusher Kyle Van Noy on defense while also signing powerful veteran running back Jordan Howard to be their new starting running back. Veteran defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah were also brought in to help improve a defense that was mostly pitiful last season while veteran offensive lineman Ereck Flowers was also signed to help improve their offense. When it comes to the recently completed NFL draft, Miami, undoubtedly had one of the best drafts of any team in the league. After picking gifted Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick, Miami selected USC Tackle Austin Jackson with the 18th pick and followed that up by nabbing Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene with the 30th overall pick. Louisiana guard Robert Hunt and Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis landed with the Fins in the second round before adding Texas safety Brandon Jones in the third round.
2020 Division Analysis
I know Bill Belichick is regarded as a defensive genius and everything, but it’s going to be interesting to see just how well he does without Tom Brady leading his team. Lest anyone forget, Belichick went an uninspiring 36-44 in five season as the head coach in Cleveland, although he did coax one, 11-win season out of the Browns during the stretch (1991-1995).
I love Buffalo’s chances of winning the division, mostly because they have a stupendous defense and what should be an improved offense after giving Josh Allen several new weapons this offseason. I guess it’s also quite possible that the jets could improve on their seven-win season from a year ago, even though I don’t think they’re ready to make the leap to division champions just yet. As far as Miami is concerned, I suspect the Fins could win eight games this coming season. However, I’m thinking it will be 2021 that the Fins really hit their stride to turn into legitimate division and playoff contenders. Right now, I’m going with Buffalo first, New England second, Miami for third place and the Jets to finish fourth.
2020 Division Winner: Buffalo Bills