A lot of change could be coming to the AFC East very soon, and DraftKings Sportsbook already has the odds up for all four teams hoping to win the division in 2020. Tom Brady might not be a New England Patriot in 2020, and that could open up the field for another team to come out on top for the first time since 2008. We evaluated 2019 for each team competing and projected this upcoming season’s expectations here:
New England Patriots (-400)
The Patriots were -590 to win the division in 2019 and won the division for the 11th straight season. They did so while lacking elite offensive weapons, as Brady had a down year and posted his lowest completion percentage (60.8%) and quarterback rating (88.0) since 2013. Rob Gronkowski retired following the 2018 season, and both Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown parted ways with New England during the year. But Julian Edelman and a strong defense helped the Patriots finish as a top 10 team on both sides of the ball. Even then, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Tennessee Titans.
Brady is officially a free agent in March, and there’s his future is murky for the time being. The Patriots don’t have a worthy successor right now and also need upgrades at tight end, wide receiver, and on both the offensive and defensive lines. Phillip Dorsett, Matthew Slater, Ted Karras and other could be headed at the door. The Patriots might be headed toward a rebuild for the first time in a long time, but if Brady returns, they will remain the division favorite.
Buffalo Bills (+450)
The Bills rose from third to second in the division from 2018 to 2019 and improved in more ways than one. Josh Allen improved his accuracy as a passer and got new targets in Cole Beasley and John Brown. Devin Singletary also emerged as the team’s next feature back. This helped Buffalo raise its potential — especially since it fielded a top-notch defense as well. Ed Oliver was a stud on the defensive line and could be a staple there for years to come. Although the team saw a first-round exit in the playoffs, it has the potential to go further soon.
The Bills are retaining their core group on offense ahead of the 2020 season. Frank Gore might not come back now that Singletary is the starter. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander announced his retirement. But key players like offensive lineman Quinton Spain and defensive end Shaw Lawson are interested in returning to the team. Buffalo is shaping up to be a legitimate contender.
New York Jets (+1400)
New York made a slight jump in the standings this year, as it climbed from last place in 2018 to third place this year. It was hindered by Sam Darnold getting mono early in the year and didn’t quite get what it wanted from Le’Veon Bell at running back. Improvement on the offensive line would help the production of the signal caller, wide receivers, and stabilize the running game. The Jets might still be a few years away from competing for a playoff spot though.
Serious help is needed at wide receiver. Robby Anderson was the top pass catcher on the team but will enter unrestricted free agency. Is he worth the $10 million per season he’s asking for? Star safety Jamal Adams isn’t a free agent until 2022, but there have been rumblings of trade rumors lately. New York must decide who the face of its defense will be. Replacing center Ryan Kalil and figuring out what to do with left tackle Kelvin Beachum will have a big effect on how the team progresses in 2020.
Miami Dolphins (+1800)
The Dolphins were easily the worst team in the division this year and got off to an 0-7 start. They then proceeded to trade away valuable assets like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kenny Stills, and Laremy Tunsil. DeVante Parker was a bright spot at wide receiver, but Miami still needs a long-term solution at quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is too old, and Josh Rosen hasn’t done anything to prove he’s worth giving a shot. The draft will be most important for this team.
The assumption is that the Dolphins will pick a quarterback with the No. 5 pick in hopes that the player they find as a franchise building block. But they also need to improve their defense significantly, as it forked up the most points (494) in the league last season. There aren’t any big name unrestricted free agents heading out the door, but Miami has quite a few holes to fill.
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