Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots Insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The New York Jets with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
There's no doubt that the New England Patriots are going to look different without Tom Brady, but has their reign atop the AFC East come to an end?
Second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham is set to take over as New England's starter in 2020 and plenty of prognosticators don't think he can lead the Patriots to another AFC East title.
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Our Patriots insider Tom E. Curran and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News discussed how things in the AFC East could shake out and their answers shouldn't surprise you.
"If you look at this objectively, the Bills do have the best roster," Mehta told Curran. "I do have serious questions, as I'm sure you do, about Josh Allen. But the surrounding components, to me, are the best in the division, and that's why I think you have to give Buffalo the nod when you're talking about preseason favorites in this division."
Many have picked the Bills, who returned to the playoffs last season as a wild-card team, as the team to beat in the division, and it's not difficult to see why. While the Patriots went 12-4 last season, Buffalo was second at 10-6 and that just could be good enough to move to top the division in 2020.
With Brady gone, the Bills' Allen is arguably the best QB in the AFC East. In two seasons with the Bills, Allen is 15-12 with 5,163 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while completing 56.3 percent of his passes. While that's not terrific, combining Allen with the likes of newly acquired Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings, Cole Beasley and the rest of the Bills offense makes Buffalo a strong contender.
Speaking of QBs, Mehta actually ranked them for Curran. His list:
- Sam Darnold - Jets
- Josh Allen - Bills
- Jarrett Stidham (only because he has one more year of experience than Tua Tagovailoa) - Patriots
- Tua Tagovailoa - Dolphins
It's certainly going to be interesting to see how things shake out. While it's quite a challenge for Stidham to prove himself after New England saw 20 years of dominance with Brady, the kid is, at least, getting a shot.
The change at QB in New England — and lack of change at wide receiver and tight end — will threaten the Patriots' customary spot looking down at the rest of the division. Perhaps Stidham shocks the world and the Patriots defense rises up to successfully defend the division title.
Still, Brady moving on changes the landscape for what has for two decades usually been a foregone conclusion.