AFC East Season Preview
Last season, the Buffalo Bills finished with a 10-6 record, which was good for second place in the AFC East. This season, it’s the Bills’ division to lose.
The Bills are by the far the most complete team in the AFC East, possessing talent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Last season, the offense ranked No. 8 in the league in rushing yards per game, in large part due to quarterback Josh Allen’s running ability and the impressive play of rookie running back Devin Singletary. Allen was inconsistent as a passer, as he completed just 59% of his passes. However, he’ll have a new No. 1 target after Buffalo added Stefon Diggs this offseason, setting up the third-year quarterback for success.
Led by first-team All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White, the Bills’ defense is poised for another top-five finish in 2020. Expect the Bills to finish with a similar record, but this time at the top of the AFC East.
New England Patriots
The “Evil Empire” up in New England is presumably over after Tom Brady’s departure this past offseason. With Brady deciding to sign with Tampa Bay, that leaves the Patriots with Cam Newton as their starting quarterback.
Newton missed almost all of 2019 with an injury and will attempt to revive his career in New England. The Patriots have solid weapons on offense, such as Sony Michel, James White, Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, that should set up Newton for success.
But the offensive side of the ball isn’t where the Patriots should be concerned. Overshadowed by Brady’s departure, New England lost a ton of defensive talent in the offseason. The Patriots lost four defensive starters in Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Kyle Van Noy and Duron Harmon, and they didn’t add nearly enough pieces to replace them. The defense allowed the least amount of yards and points per game last season, and that’s almost certain to change this year.
The Patriots will still compete for a playoff spot in 2020, but don’t expect them to come close to their 12-4 record from last season.
New York Jets
The New York Jets enter this season in the midst of a nine-year playoff drought. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010 when Mark Sanchez and company made it all the way to the AFC Championship two years in a row.
The offense, led by third-year quarterback Sam Darnold, appears much improved after finishing dead last in yards per game last season. The Jets finally added some offensive line help this offseason, bringing in four new starters, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, George Fant and the No. 11 overall pick Mekhi Becton, to put alongside returning starter Alex Lewis. They lost Robby Anderson to the Panthers this offseason but added Breshad Perriman via free agency and drafted Baylor wideout Denzel Mims in the second round. Additionally, Darnold’s go-to target from his rookie season, tight end Chris Herndon, is back and healthy after missing nearly all of last season due to injury.
Gregg Williams’ defense lost its two best players during the offseason. The Jets traded disgruntled star safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for multiple draft picks and safety Bradley McDougald. Additionally, star linebacker C.J. Mosley opted out of the season due to coronavirus safety concerns. However, this defense suffered through a ton of injuries last season and still managed to finish as a top-10 unit in regards to yards per game. It should be able to bounce back from these setbacks.
If the team reaches its potential, the Jets can battle for a wild-card spot in 2020. However, let’s remember that Adam Gase is still the head coach, and with a tough schedule, things could spiral out of control rather quickly.
Miami, it’s Tua time! Well, not so fast.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will open the season as the Dolphins’ starting quarterback after the Dolphins selected Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. On paper, the Dolphins appear much improved after adding a lot of talent in free agency. They have returning offensive weapons with tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver DeVante Parker. They also added running backs Matt Breida and Jordan Howard to form a solid duo in the backfield. Defensively, Miami signed Byron Jones, Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy to lead a defense that ranked in the bottom third of the league last season.
The future may be bright in Miami, but the Dolphins are still a year or two away from seriously competing for a playoff spot.
Gabe Angieri is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.