Early 2020 NFL Preview-AFC East

Published: 8:24pm, May 9, 2020 EDT | Updated: 8:32pm, May 9, 2020 EDT

Written by Ben the Pen

Who will win the AFC East? Read on for more information on the additions and subtractions of each squad along with odds as of May 9 .

(odds from Points Bet)

1)Buffalo Bills

Last year's record: 10-6 SU, 7-9 ATS, 7-9 O/U

Super Bowl Odds:+2500; AFC East: +120

Key Offseason Additions: WR Stefon Diggs (Trade-Minnesota), Edge Mario Addison (FA-Carolina), OL Darryl Williams (FA-Carolina), DT Vernon Butler (FA-Carolina).

Key Offseason Subtractions: RB Frank Gore (Jets), DT Jordan Philips (Arizona), DE Shaq Lawson (Miami), OLB Lorenzo Alexander (retired), CB Kevin Johnson (Cleveland).

Ding dong the witch is dead? New England has dominated the AFC East to tune of winning 11 straight division titles. Winning the division is not going to be easy. They do have the eighth-toughest schedule in the league and the Patriots did go 11-5 without Brady in 2008 (Matt Cassel). Buffalo went 10-6 last season thanks to the improvement of Josh Allen, who threw for 3,089 yards with 20 TDs and nine picks (85.3 Passer Rating). He also ran for 510 yards and nine scores. The Bills don't have a dominant back, though Devin Singletary (775 yards, 2 TDs) showed promise as a rookie, after injuries slowed him down. The key for the Bills' offensively is whether Allen can become a more accurate passer (58.9%). He averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry to rank sixth in the league. Zach Moss was added as a rookie, who is bigger (5-10, 220) and has good quickness for his size. But the biggest move the addition of Stefon Diggs, which means the Bills now have a true No. 1 receiver for Allen. He'll team along with speedster John Brown (1,060 yards) to give the Bills a pretty formidable duo. Buffalo ranked 26th in passing yards per game, 24th in yards per game and 23rd in points per game at 19.6.

Since the Bills didn't have an explosive offense, they had to rely on their defense. They were able to hold teams to just 298.2 yards per game (2nd) and 16.2 points per game (2nd). They allowed 103.1 yards per game, but 4.3 yards per carry. That needs to be improved and it starts with the defensive line. They did add Vernon Butler from Carolina, who is a rotation inside pass rusher. Both are The passing defense was as good just about any team in the league as they allowed 195.2 yards in the air (4th), but picked off just 14 passes (Patriots had 25). They also ranked 12th in sacks with 44. The addition of DE/OLB Mario Addison (9.5 sacks) is a solid pickup. He's averaged just under 10 sacks per game over his last four seasons. He replaces defensive end Jordan Phillips (9.5 sacks). They also drafted A.J. 1Espenesa in the second round (their top pick), who should provide some pass rush as well. With Shaq Lawson gone in free agency and Lorenzo Alexander retiring, the Bills improved a pretty good pass rush. Having Tre'Davious White (six INTs) as a shutdown corner doesn't hurt. They'll need Taron Johnson to pick up the slack at nickel and will hope that Josh Norman still has something left the No. 2 cornerback spot.

Projection: 11-5, first place in AFC East.

2)New England Patriots

Last year's record: 12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS, 7-9 O/U

Super Bowl Odds: +2500; AFC East: +120

Key Offseason Additions: DT Beau Allen (FA-Tampa Bay), WR Dameire Byrd (FA-NY Jets), LB Brandon Copeland (FA-NY Jets), QB Brian Hoyer (FA).

Key Offseason Subtractions: QB Tom Brady (FA-Tampa Bay), WR Phillip Dorsett (FA-Seattle), DT Danny Shelton (FA-Detroit), OLB Jamie Collins (FA-Detroit), OLB Kyle Van Noy (FA-Miami).

Does Bill Belichick have something up his sleeve (Cam Newton)? Will he rely on his defense and just hope that his second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham can manage the offense? That's asking a lot and when Matt Cassel went 11-5, the Patriots were pretty good on both sides of the ball. There is simply an imbalance and that's part of the reason Brady left for Tampa along with 247 Champ Rob Gronkowski. The offense was devoid of weapons and became a dink and dunk display with Brady to Julian Edelman or his average cast of runners. They ranked 15th in offense (354ypg) and seventh in points per game (26.2ppg). That's pretty remarkable for the talent they had and says a lot about Brady. The running game was mediocre (18th in ypg), averaging 3.8 yards per carry. Sonny Michel led the way with 912 yards, but averaged just 3.7ypc. James White is the receiving specialist out of the backfield, who caught 72 passes for 645 yards and five scores. He was the number two receiver behind Julian Edelman, who caught 100 passes (153 targets) for 1,117 yards. The Pats desperately needed an outside receiver, considering Mohamed Sanu is slow and old. WR N'Keal Henry was not very good as a rookie and it appears they whiffed on him considering Deebo Samuel and DK Metcalf were taken later. Speaking of mistakes, with Ben Watson (retired) gone, the Pats moved up in the draft to take Devin Asiasi (91st) from UCLA and Dalton Keane (101st) from Virginia Tech. Both were drafted too high and you have to wonder what's going on with the way New England has been drafting offensive skill position players as of late. At quarterback, it's apparently Stidham's job to lose. He is the great unknown because he wasn't great at Auburn (fourth-round pick) and lacks NFL experience. You know Belichick, wants to prove everybody wrong and that New England won due to the system and not just due to one player.

On the defensive side, New England could be dominant. That's assuming they can replace Jamie Collins (7 sacks, led team int tackles) and Kyle Van Noy (6 sacks) at outside linebacker. They also have to replace DT Danny Shelton, a dominant presence on the inside. All three contributed to the number one overall defense (275.9ypg), second in pass defense (180.4ypg), first in interceptions (25) and sixth against the rush (4.2ypc, 95.5ypg). Nobody does it better maybe in the history of the game when it comes to scheming on defense than Belichick. They have to hope that Josh Uche from Michigan and Anfernee Jennings from Alabama can step in and play right away as rookies. The secondary is top-notch led by Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty at corner. They re-signed Devin McCourty and with Patrick Chung declining at 33, they added rookie Kyle Dugger from Lenoir-Rhyne. That was an interesting pick considering they could have taken safeties from bigger programs, but the Pats liked Dugger's versatility.

Projection: Second: 10-6. Hard to believe they will fall a ton, but losing Brady and Collins on defense is tough to overcome.

3)New York Jets

Last year's record: 7-9 SU, 7-9 ATS, 7-9 O/U

Super Bowl Odds:+8000; AFC East: +850

Key Offseason Additions: WR Breshad Perriman (FA-Tampa Bay), G/C Connor McGovern (FA-Denver), RB Frank Gore (FA-Buffalo), LB Patrick Onwuasor (FA-Baltimore).

Key Offseason Subtractions: WR Robbie Anderson (FA-Carolina), CB Daryl Roberts (FA-Detroit), LB Brandon Copeland (FA-New England).

Despite losing Sam Darnold (mono) for three games and the Jets were able to finish at 7-9. There were other issues on offense aside from Darnold's illness. When healthy, Darnold was mediocre, throwing for 3,024 yards, 19 TDs and 13 picks for an 84.3 passer rating. The Jets gave up 52 sacks and they finished last in the NFL with 3.3 yards per carry, despite adding Le'Veon Bell (789 yards, 3.2ypc). He wasn't the only problem, because Bilal Powell (3.9ypc) and Ty Montgomery (3.2ypc) also struggled behind that line. The addition of Frank Gore doesn't make a lot of sense, other than the fact, he's a solid veteran who can take some pressure off of Bell. They ranked last in the NFL in yards per game at a woeful 273 and averaged just 17.2 points per game. They also lost their best receiver in Robby Anderson to Carolina and grabbed inconsistent burner Breshad Perriman off the market. The good thing for the Jets is they addressed the offensive line with the addition of humongous Mekhi Becton (6-8, 350) from Louisville to play left tackle. He's a boom-or-bust pick at No. 11 as the Jets took a chance on his all-world potential. They also made a very strong pick in the second round with the selection of Denzel Mims from Baylor, who should not have been there. Mims and Perriman will add much-needed speed to the offense. The addition of center Connor McGovern from Denver will also help.

Defensively, the Jets were very good. They allowed just 323.1 yards per game (7th) and 22.4 points per game. They struggled some against the pass, allowing 236.2 yards per game (16th) and ranked 23rd with 35 sacks. They were great against the run, holding teams to just 3.3 yards per carry (T-1) and 86.9 yards per game (2nd). They were strong against the run despite inside linebacker C.J. Mosley limited to just two games due to a groin injury. When healthy, he's one of the best inside linebackers in the AFC. They were smart to re-sign linebacker Neville Hewitt, who finished second on the team in tackles and did a nice job stepping up with Mosley out. The secondary brought in Pierre Desir from the Colts to play alongside Arthur Maulet and Brian Poole. Desir is a pretty good corner with good size, though struggled in Indianapolis. Poole has become one of the best slot corners in the league and Maulet has shown potential. It's not a weakness necessarily, but they still need to get better there. Fortunately, they have SS Jamal Adams back in the secondary and he's one of the best in the NFL. Adams recorded 75 tackles, with 6.5 sacks, 13.5 TFLs, one pick and two fumble recoveries last season. He's looking for a huge deal and the Jets picked up his option through the 2021 season at $9.9 million.

Projection: 8-8. Should be better on offense, but still too many question marks about the offensive line and at receiver.

4)Miami Dolphins

Last year's record: 5-11 SU, 9-7 ATS, 9-7 O/U

Super Bowl Odds:+8500; AFC East: +900

Key Offseason Additions: CB Byron Jones (FA-Dallas), LB Kyle Van Noy (FA-New England), Edge Shaq Lawson (FA-Buffalo), DE Emmanuel Ogbayh (FA-Kansas City), RB Jordan Howard (FA-Philadelphia), RB Matt Breida (Trade-San Francisco), OT Ereck Flowers (FA-Washington).

Key Offseason Subtractions: DE Taco Charlton (FA-Kansas City).

Miami had quite the offseason and they certainly needed to make a bang, but it started with the drafting of Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick. Whether Tagovailoa plays this season after coming off a hip injury that sidelined him at the end of his college career is another story. Health is a major risk due to the hip and an ankle injury in 2018. But if he's healthy, he could be the frachise's best quarterback since Dan Marino. Ryan Fitzpatrick could hold the fort and allow the Fins to draft in the top 10 again. He threw for 3,529 yards with 20 TDs and 13 picks with an 85.5 passer rating in 2019. He doesn't have a lot to throw to and that's a najor concern. Fortunately, the Dolphins drafted. At running back, the Fins traded a draft pick to get Matt Breida and also added sturdy Jordan Howard (525 yards, 6 TDs) in free agency. It's hard to believe Howard is just 25 and is about to play for his third team. Breida ran for 621 yarsd and averaged 5.1 yards per carry. How bad was Miami's running game last season? Their leading rusher was Fitzpatrick (243 yards). They ranked last in rushing yards per game at 72.2 per game and tied for last in yards per carry at 3.3. Miami's offensive line still needs an upgrade. Fortunately, the drafted OT Austin Jackson from USC at 18, OL Robert Hunt from Louisiana at 39 and OG Solomon Kindley from Georgia at 111. The future is bright, but they still have work to do.

On defense, they were nearly as bad as they were on offense. They finished 30th in overall defense (397.8ypg) and 25th against the pass. But the biggest issue was getting to the passer as they ranked last in the NFL with 23 sacks and got pressure on 16.5 percent on opponents drop backs (last). The run defense wasn't much better as they allowed 4.5 yards per carry and 135.4 yards per game. The pass rush got a bit of help with the addition of Emmanuel Ogbah from the Chiefs, though he was just a part-time player. They went inside their own division with more help from Shaq Lawson from Buffalo, who was a disappointment but did have 6.5 sacks last season. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy (6.5 sacks) is a veteran from New England, who will help with production and leadership. Miami also produced one of the biggest offseason splashes with the signing of CB Byron Jones from Dallas. Jones might not be a shutdown corner, but he is a solid number one and enhances the secondary.

Prediction: 6-10. An improved team but a tough schedule. Tagovailoa may start at some point this season, but what's the rush?

(some info from ESPN.com, PFF.com and NFL.com)