Predictions for the 2020 NFL Season: AFC East

With kickoff set for Thursday night, we finish up the series preview of this season with the vastly changed AFC East.

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4. New York Jets

Last season, the Jets held a less than impressive 7-9 record and finished third in the AFC East. QB Sam Darnold missed three games due to an illness and the team was outscored a total of 84-23.

New York had a massive overhaul this offseason with their offensive line to ensure that there is no repeat of last season.

Free agents G Josh Andrews from the Indianapolis Colts, T George Fant from the Seattle Seahawks and G Connor McGovern from the Denver Broncos were all signed to assist RB Le’Veon Bell‘s game. New York also drafted Mekhi Becton of Louisville who was the fifth rated offensive tackle heading into the 2020 draft.

RB Frank Gore also joins the weaponry for his 16th season after spending last year with the Buffalo Bills.

The Jets defense is a weak point as they will be operating on a skeleton crew. S Jamal Adams was traded to Seattle and LB C.J. Mosley has opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.

3. Miami Dolphins

The highly anticipated debut of fifth overall draft pick QB Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama will have to wait as the Dolphins announce Ryan Fitzpatrick will be their starting quarterback.

Although this move leaves a sour taste in the mouths of fans, Miami takes into consideration that Tagovailoa suffered a dislocated hip and fractured posterior wall back in November. With the lone lefty quarterback in the NFL, it’s better safe than sorry.

RB Jordan Howard from the Philidelphia Eagles, LB Kyle Van Noy from the New England Patriots and OT Ereck Flowers from the Washington Football Team all joined during the offseason. The offense may not bolster big star names, but they should give high production numbers.

Defensively, Miami comes into 2020 with two of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league. Byron Jones and Xavien Howard were both signed as free agents.

If the Dolphins want to be contenders this season, they’ll need to remove the bubble wrap from Tagovailoa and give him a chance to produce.

2. New England Patriots

Tom Brady who?

Brady left the Patriots after 20 years, nine Super Bowl appearances and six titles. Now, the reins are being handed over to former-MVP QB Cam Newton who was previously with the Carolina Panthers.

New England also saw the departures of Van Noy, OLB Jamie Collins and WR Phillip Dorsett during this offseason. Not only were playmakers lost, the team did nothing to fill the hole at wide receiver that plagued them last season.

Still, the Patriots have been a championship caliber team for many years under Bill Belichick and the losses shouldn’t deter this team much.

New England welcomes back several receivers from last season including Julian Edelman and Gunner Olszewski. Damiere Byrd also joined the team this offseason from the Arizona Cardinals.

The defensive line welcomes back DT Lawrence Guy, DT Adam Butler and DE Deatrich Wise who will be leaned on to generate a pass rush. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year CB Stephon Gilmore, DB J.C Jackson and DB Jonathan Jones also are all back for this season, keeping the team’s elite cornerback group in tact.

1. Buffalo Bills

The last time the Bills won the AFC East was in 1995. This team should repeat, or eclipse, their 10-6 record from 2019.

Buffalo took a big stride this offseason by trading for Minnesota Vikings star WR Stefon Diggs. Diggs will pair with third-year QB Josh Allen to make a formidable duo.

Diggs joins John Brown and Cole Beasley to make up one of the NFL’s most versatile group of receivers. Zack Moss and Devin Singletary have the ability to become one of the best tackle-breaking duos.

Although the Bills lost LB Lorenzo Alexander, the defense is still rated third in the league.

DE Mario Addison of the Panthers was picked up to add on to the strengths of DE Jerry Hughes and DE Trent Murphy. Former Saints LB A.J. Klein also made his way to Buffalo during the offseason.

Aided by a frightening defense, Josh Allen should have the tools he needs to produce a first place team this season.

Photo: (Steven Senne/AP Photo)

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