The AFC East has long been dominated by the New England Patriots, as they have won the division all but one year during the Tom Brady era. However, with his departure to Tampa Bay, the division is more open than it has been in the past 20 years.
The Bills are coming off of a solid season that saw them make the playoffs before falling to the Texans in the wild card round. Josh Allen had a solid year, throwing for just over 3,000 yards. He added 20 touchdowns to just nine interceptions while also rushing for 510 yards and nine more touchdowns.
Buffalo had an elite defense last season, led by star corner Tre’Davious White, and they added even more pieces on that side of the ball. Quinton Jefferson, Josh Norman, Mario Addison, 2020 draft selection A.J. Epenesa and others will look to keep the Bills defense strong, but the teams biggest addition came on offense.
The Bills traded a boatload of picks to Minnesota for star receiver Stefon Diggs. He will join John Brown and Cole Beasley as the top targets for Allen. Devin Singletary is likely to start at running back, while draftee Zack Moss could also see some action as a backup.
The Bills are a very well-balanced team that may be the favorites to win the division.
The Dolphins had one of the most active off-seasons of any team in the league. They had tons of cap space and used it to rebuild their roster.
They bolstered their defense by signing Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Clayton Fejedelum. They addressed their needs at offensive line by signing Ted Karras and Ereck Flowers, and they added Jordan Howard to run behind them. All of this was before the draft.
In the draft, they once again addressed the offensive line by taking tackle Austin Jackson with the 18th pick and Robert Hunt with the 37th. They also added more talent on defense by taking corner Noah Igbinoghene, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis, and safety Brandon Jones within the first three rounds.
Obviously, this all boils down to one question; What happens with Tua Tagovailoa? Whether he sits to heal up or takes over for Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins should be much improved next season statistically, even if their record doesn’t show it.
New England Patriots
Obviously, losing Tom Brady is going to hurt any team, but they lost more than just him, As stated, Van Noy and Roberts departed to Miami with Ted Karras. However, free agency didn’t hurt them as much as opt-outs have. Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, and Brandon Bolden have all opted out for next season.
The Patriots will still have arguably the best secondary in the league with a solid defensive line. They should be fine on that side of the ball. However, the offense is a big question mark as it will likely change very much. Expect a run-heavy team with Cam Newton at quarterback and James White and Sony Michel in the backfield.
The lack of receivers will also promote a run-heavy offense, but a motivated Cam Newton is a scary Cam Newton. Don’t sleep on New England as they very well could continue their streak of winning the division.
New York Jets
The Jets lost their best player in Jamal Adams, but rumor has it that everyone’s attitude in camp is at an all-time high. The Jets picked up Denzel Mims and Mekhi Becton in the draft which should immediately improve their offense if Sam Darnold can stay healthy and Le’Veon Bell can return to his old ways.
The defense might take a step back with the loss of Adams, but they still have a respectable group on that side of the ball. C.J Mosely should be back, and the rest of the defense should look similar with the addition of Patrick Onwuasor.
Their free agency mostly consisted of signing tons of offensive lineman to hopefully get better in the trenches. How well their offensive line performs could be the difference between 5-11 and a possible 8-8 season. New York has talent, but they still have holes to fill.