Patriots Finally Toppled.
WINNERS – BUFFALO BILLS:
It’s finally the Bills time to rule the East and I for one am here for it! A 10-6 record last year pushed the Patriots close but ultimately falling short in their 2 game series with the Patriots losing both games by 6 points, this year the Patriots are going through some changes (we’ll get to that later) and the Bills are in the best spot to capitalise on that and be the first team other than the Patriots to win this division since 2008 (!) and win their first AFC East crown since 1995. Their big splash in Free Agency was spending a first round draft pick (and more) on wide receiver, Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings, the team have been crying out for a #1 receiver for a long time and now finally appear to have one in the explosive former Viking. The Bills also strengthened their side through their first 3 picks in the draft, I’m sure they were as shocked as anybody when Iowa Defensive Lineman, A.J. Epenesa fell to them in the second round, this is a player who seemed to have a unanimous first round grade from draft “experts” and who I personally had a mid-first round grade on, with their second and third picks in the draft the Bills bolstered their offensive weapons adding Running Back, Zack Moss and Wide Receiver, Gabriel Davis, the former will look to give the Bills some thunder to pair with the lightning Devin Singletary has to offer and form a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield whilst the latter has impressed in camp he will start the year behind the aforementioned Diggs and last years acquired Wide Receivers, John Brown and Cole Beasley but might see his chance come in the second half of the season. The Bills have one of the best young Head Coaches in the league in Sean McDermott and a stifling defense which is arguably the league’s best so if QB, Josh Allen can take another step forward this year especially in the accuracy department and utilise his weapons on offense we could be looking at a very dangerous Buffalo Bills Football Team ready to make a deep playoff run.
BEST CASE: 13-3
WORST CASE: 9-7
2nd PLACE – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
Could we be about to witness the demise of the Patriots? TB12 is out of town which means the Brady & Belichick duo which has tormented the NFL for what seems like eternity is finally broken and maybe we’ll finally get the answer to who was really responsible for all those championship banners in Boston. I’ve seen a lot of people writing off the Patriots, my friend and Dial Up The Blitz podcast co-host, Chuckie has them going 7-9 but if being a Buffalo Bills fan has taught me anything other than how to learn to live with disappointment it’s that you never, ever, ever write off the Patriots! I don’t like their football team and with guys like Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy & Jamie Collins leaving in Free Agency as well as losing arguably their best front 7 player, Don’t’a Hightower as a COVID-19 opt out. I don’t expect to see the same Patriots team of old but there is still talent on the roster, they have arguably the best Cornerback in Football in Stephon Gilmore, a safe pair of hands in the veteran, Julian Edelman and not a bad Offensive Line who’s job it will be to protect recently acquired and recently named starter, Cam Newton, the former NFL MVP will be replacing Brady under centre this year and I expect Belichick to change the offensive accordingly, I still expect to see a lot of Edelman underneath and James White catching balls out the backfield but I wouldn’t surprise me to see Cam have huge rushing numbers this year, something that Belichick was never able to scheme up with Brady as his QB. I see the Patriots playing good defense (as always) and running the ball a lot this year and although I don’t have them winning the division I have too much trust in and respect for Bill Belichick as a HC to project anything other than yet another winning season in Foxboro.
BEST CASE: 12-4
WORST CASE: 7-9
3rd PLACE – MIAMI DOLPHINS:
So the Dolphins successfully ‘Tanked for Tua’ (well kind of) even if their improved end of season form last year nearly pushed them out of Tua range but a mix of no (arguable) QB need from the teams picking 2-4 and Tua’s hip injury made a perfect cocktail allowing the Alabama signal caller to fall into the Dolphins lap at 5th overall and they spent draft capital making sure their Offensive Line is bolstered to protect him, selecting three Offensive Lineman in the first four rounds including Offensive Tackle, Austin Jackson with the 18th overall pick which was their second of three 2020 NFL Draft first round picks. Before the Draft the Dolphins had already made some splash acquisitions which included making former Dallas Cowboy, Byron Jones the highest paid Cornerback in the league this allows the ‘Fins to partner him with Incumbent #1 CB, Xavien Howard, giving them very arguably the best Corner duo in football, they also managed to take defensive pieces from two divisional rivals, taking Defensive End, Shaq Lawson from the Buffalo Bills and bigger still prizing the New England Patriots’, Kyle Van Noy to south beach helping to build what should be a much better defense in Miami this year. I like the trajectory the Dolphins are on; HC Brian Flores seems to have his players on side and if Tua can stay healthy he could be an incredibly special player. It might be a little early for a winning season, but I expect a marked improvement from last year in both record and performances. This is a team with the arrow pointing up.
BEST CASE: 8-8
WORST CASE 4-12
4TH PLACE – NEW YORK JETS:
Where to start with the New York Football Jets?! Their best player walked out the door in a trade with the Seahawks, they still haven’t given their young, unproven passer, Sam Darnold any weapons and their best offensive player, Running Back Le’Veon Bell has to split carries with a 80 year old (not literally) Frank Gore because his HC hates him, a Head Coach in Adam Gase who is probably the most uninspiring and undeserving of all headset wearers in the NFL. From top to bottom it’s a mess. They drafted guys with high ceilings this year but also very low floors which for a team struggling to just find starting calibre NFL talent across the field was a very risky decision, sure Mekhi Becton could be the biggest, nastiest Offensive Tackle in Football but he could just as easily end up as Ereck Flowers 2.0 and that’s not a good thing for a man drafted #11 overall. On offense they lost their #1 WR, Robby Anderson and added career #3 Breshad Perriman to replace him and also drafted Denzel Mims in the 2nd round, both men have struggled with injuries so far in training camp meaning Sam Darnold yet again has sub-par pass catchers to pair with an uninspired offensive play caller. I’m expecting the wheels to completely fall off this season and the Jets to once again blow it up and start again. Top 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft pending.
BEST CASE: 6-10
WORST CASE 1-15
Buffalo Bills – Over 8.5 wins – 4/6
New York Jets – Under 6.5 wins – 5/6