2020 AFC East Prediction

The AFC East is the Buffalo Bills to win.

Jim Rome
July 29, 2020 - 11:05 am
Bills vs. Pats

USA Today

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The AFC East is the Buffalo Bills to win. You heard me. NFL predictions in late July are completely and totally pointless. NFL predictions in late July during a global pandemic are a whole new level of pointless. But I’m still saying it.

And there are so many reasons to say it. First off, the Buffalo Bills are good. They are damn good. They went 10-6 last year and it says here they’re only going to get better. The defense is really good, they have exciting young talent at running back and they added Stefon Diggs, who brings a whole new element, a whole new dimension to their offense.  

And while they’ve been getting better, the Patriots have been getting worse. There’s no way to deny that. Tom Brady – gone. Rob Gronkowski – gone. Kyle Van Noy – gone. Jamie Collins Sr – gone.

And then in the past few days, six more Patriots have announced that they will be opting out of this season. Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, Patrick Chung, Brandon Bolden, Danny Vitale, and Najee Toran all announced that they would be opting out this season.

And you cannot criticize any of them for it. I don’t want to hear anyone saying that it’s selfish for a player to opt out this season. Not only is it not selfish, it’s one of the most self-less things you could do. Putting your own dream and your own career on hold so that you can be with your family and keep them safe.

And not that I should need to do this, but here are a few of the stories behind why they’re opting out. 

Marcus Cannon is married with three kids. He survived non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few years ago.

Donta Hightower just became a father less than two weeks ago. 

I could go on, but every single guy who’s opting out has a really good reason or many really good reasons for opting out. And none of them should be questioned or criticized for it.

And no team preaches the “next man up” philosophy more than the Patriots, but at a certain point, there are too many spots where you need the next man to step up. There are only so many next men who can step up before you start getting to the next men who are the next men for a reason. 

Nobody is better than Bill Belichick at turning backups into contributors and contributors into stars, but at a certain point, backups are backups for a reason. And he’ll be going into this season without his franchise quarterback, a starting offensive lineman, starting safety, and three starting linebackers. That is a crapload of talent to replace.

And again, nobody can do that better than Belichick. But man, that is a lot of work. Bill Belichick is still Bill Belichick and I’m really interested to see how Cam Newton shows up in that offense. I’m a Cam believer. But I’m not sure there’s enough around Newton on offense to make up for the holes on defense.

And then there’s the fact that the Patriots are going without the guy who they built their offense around for the last 20 years. And they’re doing it in a pandemic with a wacky preseason. By my count, Cam Newton will have approximately 20 minutes to get to know his teammates before the start of the season.

And yes, I know the Bills had talent of their own that opted out, but what I’m saying is that the division is there for the taking. That’s not me trying to get Bills fans hyped, although I love it when Bills fans are hyped.

The league is just better and life is better when the Bills Mafia is doing what they do. No fan base loves their team more than that crew and no fan base gets more amped about regular season wins than they do. 

But this year feels different. This year feels like there could be a bigger target than just reaching the playoffs. Those days are over. Being good isn’t good enough anymore. There is a chance this year to do something really special. Really, really special.

It’s late July and I’m calling it. And as I said before, predictions in late July are dumb, and during a pandemic they’re even dumber. But I’m doing it.  

I’m all in. Bill Belichick is a complete and absolute wizard. He is a warlock. He can do anything. But this year, the AFC East belongs to Buffalo. 

What I’m saying is, if not now, when?