The AFC East is there for the taking for any team able to overcome Bill Belichick's coaching skills sans Tom Brady. Doubt one of the greatest coaches in NFL history at your own expense, of course, but the last time New England took the field without their Michigan Man for a full season resulted in a division title for the Miami Dolphins in 2008. It doesn't seem like the Dolphins are primed to do it again this year, but 2020 represents the best opportunity in over a decade for the other residents of the division to overthrow the Kronos figure in Foxborough and claim the crown.
The Buffalo Bills, as the only non-New England AFC East entity to appear in the playoffs in the last three seasons, appear to be smart money in that regard. Dan Orlovsky agrees and said as much on Wednesday morning's Get Up (starting at the 0:30 mark):
"This is Buffalo's division by a long shot," said Orlovsky. "They've gotten better as a football team this offseason, they were a playoff team last year, and they were 3-3 in that division, both losses to the Patriots and a loss in the last game of the year against the Jets where they sat everyone. The Bills should run away with this division considering it's a top-five defense and an offense that added Stefon Diggs and is absolutely up-and-coming."
Perhaps it's because Josh Allen still has so much to prove, or perhaps it's simply the result of everything else in the world overwhelming us, but it feels like the Diggs acquisition somehow has gone under the radar since they pulled it off before the NFL Draft. Buffalo managed to put together a slightly-below average league offense without a true No. 1 wideout and the immortal Frank Gore as their primary back for most of the season. Now, Devin Singletary has come into his own and Diggs will get all the targets he desires. Allen's inconsistency will still hamper the unit until he proves otherwise, but even getting to an average offense by most measurable statistics makes them a very good team.
If there's any team to pick in this division, it's Buffalo, but it doesn't feel like the foregone conclusion that Orlovsky argues here. Buffalo's defense is very good, and defense wins championships, but they'll need Allen to make a big jump to be able to run away with 12 wins, much less a division title. Miami resembled a competitive team by the end of 2019. There's no chance the Jets are worse than they were last year with all the injuries and maladies their key players fought through. Nobody can ever count out the Patriots entirely. It's going to be a tough road, but as Buffalo and everyone else understands, their hopes rest on the shoulders of Josh Allen.