Reality

NFL Preview AFC East

FOOTBALL IS BACK !! For the first time since February there is hope and light and something to discuss that isn’t world-ending. Hurrah for football!
We’ve had the draft, we’ve had the speculation and we’ve had our fill of covid-friendly, iso-bubble namby-pamby training camps. What we really want is bone-crunching, pass-catching, touchdown-scoring football. Tomorrow night the reigning champion Chiefs get the season underway against division rivals the Texans at Arrowhead as they look to be the first repeat champions since the ’04 and ’05 Patriots. The season is going to post many, many questions and dilemmas for staff and players alike in these strange times, but ultimately one thing remains true, the best team post-Christmas will claim the crown. So lets take a look through the teams by Conference and Division and weigh up their chances of reaching the tickertape glory land…

THE AFC EAST
It could be all change in the AFC East following a parting of ways between The Patriots and their star QB (and GOAT) Tom Brady. The Bills have built strong units on both sides of the ball and the Dolphins are in the midst of their own ground-up rebuild with both teams looking to take advantage of the Patriots new found vulnerabilities, oh, and the Jets are in the division too…

BUFFALO BILLS
McDermott and co. are so close to success they can smell it. Last year’s 10-6 record should be seen as a minimum requirement for 2020. Josh Allen has 17 rushing Tds across his 2 NFL seasons and has an upgraded receiving corps through the addition of Stefon Diggs, who brings a career record so far of 4,600+ rec yards and 30TDs. He and John Brown will provide ample downfield threat provided the scatter-gun Allen can locate them regularly. The addition of Zak Moss alongside Devin Singletary provides a genuine 1-2 backfield punch that should alleviation some pressure from the QB too. The defence remains scary-good, DT Ed Oliver could take a big step forward and generate plenty of sacks and pressures, Milano and Edmunds continue to be a devastating LB Duo in the middle of the field and Tre’Davious White just became the highest paid corner in history following his 6 INT season last year. I remain sceptical of Josh Norman at Right CB being able to reproduce his previously high-calibre performances but Levi Wallace could step in and take his role with little drop-off in performance. Its taken me a long time to become a convert to the Sean McDermott way, but you have to say, it appears to be paying off. The Bills should top this division.
Projected record:-11-5

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Losing Brady is no big deal. There, said it. He wasn’t playing at Brady-esque levels in the last 2 seasons. Suck it up Pats fans, its time to cut the cord. The biggest loss here is the opt-outs on the defence- a historically good defence lets not forget. Patrick Chung and Dontae Hightower have both chosen to side step the season, combined with 6 other players, leaving the Pats fragile on defence as well as offense. Gilmore and the McCourty twins keep the D Unit serviceable and the addition of Chase Winovich seems likely to payoff sooner rather than later, but it could be ugly from time to time. Cam Newton takes over from the GOAT with his own point to prove. He was rated as QB5 in his last full season and has led a team all the way once before, if he stays injury free and can run like old Cam then he may even be an upgrade (shhh). Edelman looks to be the only consistent weapon in the passing game unless N’Keal Harry finally steps up, Sony Michel and James White are a better backfield pair then they get credit for, they’ll get help from Damien Harris once he comes back from IR too. The TE position is a joke, and that could be crucial. Ryan Izzo or Devin Asiani anyone? No, me neither. That 7th playoff spot may make all the difference.
Projected record: 9-7

MIAMI DOLPHINS
Sprinkle on a bit more Fitzmagic…yeah….that feels good. Last season’s surprise package outperformed the sum of their parts and showed some real guts in the face of adversity. If they can reproduce that under impressive HC Brain Flores then they could be right in the mix come December. Tua wont start the season but expect to see him under centre periodically as the Fitzmagic cycle continues to produce huge highs and devastating lows. DeVante Parker finally produced a stellar season and showed why he should be more highly regarded now that he is officially the Number 1 target. Look for huge yardage from Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki (TE) too as the ‘Fins will be slingin’ it from behind…Aye. Im stating that Matt Breida will topple Jordan Howard from the RB depth-chart and far exceed his 2 TDs from 2019. Ereck Flowers still has a job on the O-Line, which is bad, and could be the undoing of many offensive plays. The D is better and Kyle Van Nooy is a great addition at LB. If Shaq Lawson can repeat his 2019 and Christian Wilks can improve his numbers then the D will be at least ok. Its still a year too early, but everything is trending up.
Projected record: 7-9

NEW YORK JETS

Few teams darken my day more than the Jets. They simply don’t deserve Sam Darnold. 36 INTs and 63 sacks in 2 seasons from a player hailed as the next Andrew Luck, simply not good enough, but its little wonder when you look at the poor supporting cast. The big Bell deal hasn’t paid off, and most likely never will, he clearly doesn’t want to be there despite attempts to demonstrate otherwise. Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and Chris Hogan lead the receiver group (yawn) and 87 year old future hall of famer Frank Gore backs up Bell. Its not enough to have a great QB, you have to help him out, especially when hes only 3 years in. On any other team in this Division, Darnold would look like a world-beater. CJ Mosely opting out from the defence renders the Jets sub-optimal on the D-Side of the ball too, Quinnen Williams makes the Front 3 look better than they are and the backfield isn’t racking up INTs on anyone with regularity. Jamal Adams demanding his way out pretty much levelled their chances of out performing the offense and providing a spark. Mix all of this with the Adam Gase wand of disappointment and over-hype and you get a bottom feeder in 2020. If Gase keeps Greg Williams from taking his job by week 11 he should consider it a win.
Projected record 4-12

Its the Bills division to lose, but no one will be surprised if they do.

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