The Patriots have ruled the AFC East for two decades, but are they still the beasts of the East? Or is their reign over now that Tom Brady has taken his talents to Tampa?
According to the head coach of their biggest challenger, it's the former... at least for now.
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While the Bills enter the 2020 season with momentum and great expectations of knocking off the Pats, head coach Sean McDermott told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer that New England should still be considered the favorite.
“Anytime you bring up some of those words — expectations, pressure — number one, I think it shows you that people respect the way we’re doing things overall, which is nice,” McDermott told Breer. “But number two, and just as important, the Patriots, look, they’ve won the division for X amount of years. … Until someone is able to win the division, to us, the Patriots remain the favorite. Why shouldn’t they? You tell me one reason why they shouldn’t."
The biggest reason? Brady's departure. With the promising but unproven Jarrett Stidham likely taking over at quarterback, there's a big question mark at the sport's most important position.
Yet oddsmakers are still bullish on the Patriots, who have won the AFC East an unprecedented 11 years in a row (and 17 of the past 19 seasons). According to DraftKings Sportsbook, New England is a +125 favorite to win the division again, while the Bills are close behind at +145.
After a 10-6 campaign in 2019, Buffalo added Stefon Diggs this offseason and is in its best position to win the division in a long time. The Bills haven't won the AFC East (or a playoff game) in a quarter-century, or before their starting QB Josh Allen was even born. But McDermott isn't crowning his team just yet.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, we really do,” he told Breer. “And our players work hard, there’s no doubt about that. I think that’s the one thing that I can say: We embrace that we’ve got to earn things.”
Will the Bills earn that long-awaited division crown in 2020 or will their long wait be extended by at least another season? That remains to be seen.