The AFC East race will be fascinating in more ways than one in the 2020 NFL season.
Not only is the competition for the division title sure to heat up with the New England Patriots losing quarterback Tom Brady (and others) in free agency, each of the four teams will play a tough 2020 schedule.
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Just how tough exactly? ESPN's Rich Cimini tweeted Tuesday that the Patriots, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, in that order, have the three most difficult schedules for the upcoming regular season based on their opponents' 2019 win percentage.
With the NFL schedule due to be released later this week, a factoid to consider:— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) May 4, 2020
Teams with the hardest strength of schedule, based on 2019 W-L record (via @ESPNStatsInfo):#Patriots — .537#Jets — .533#Dolphins — .529
Every team already knows its home and road opponents for next season, but the actual dates and times will be unveiled Thursday night.
There are a few reasons why these AFC East teams have a grueling schedule for 2020.
The primary reason is these four teams will play each AFC West and NFC West squad. The divisions rotate each year, and the AFC East is getting the West division in each conference at a particularly tough time.
The NFC West is perhaps the best division in the league with four quality teams, including the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers and perennial contenders the Seattle Seahawks. The Los Angeles Rams are no longer an elite squad but still an opponent not to be taken lightly, while the Arizona Cardinals are a popular pick to finish among the league's most improved teams.
The AFC West is home to the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, as well as two other decent teams in the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders aren't likely to be a playoff team, but they will have a unique homefield advantage playing in Las Vegas for the first time.
The Patriots' roster transition and all of the AFC East teams facing a difficult schedule make for what should be an exciting division title race in 2020. New England has won 11 consecutive division championships, and even though oddsmakers like the Patriots' chances of extending that streak, it wouldn't be surprising if a team such as the Bills took over the crown.