With Tom Brady no longer in town, key defensive players departing in free agency, and several players opting out over COVID-19 concerns, winning a division title will be as challenging as it's been in years for the New England Patriots.
That isn't to say the Patriots don't have a real shot at reigning atop the AFC East yet again, but the division appears to be wide-open. The Buffalo Bills currently are favored to win the division title in 2020, with the Patriots trailing just behind them.
On a brand new episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran chats with fellow beat writers for AFC East squads about where their teams stand heading into the 2020 campaign.
The Bills likely will be the Patriots' biggest competition for the division crown this season. Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic joined the show to discuss the vibe in Buffalo.
"They feel pretty confident about what they have. Certainly the fans around here are expecting like a 12-win team, a division title," Fairburn said. "The bar has been raised. They just signed their head coach to a six-year contract extension because he made the playoffs two times in three years, which is unheard of around here.
"So right now, all signs are pointing to them being the competitive team that they wanted to build when they got here. The window is open and all signs are pointing to them being a team that competes for the division title."
While they aren't as likely as the Bills to do so, the improved Dolphins will look to finally overtake New England in the standings. Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel joined to discuss whether Miami can take the next step.
"They've given the Patriots -- they've split the series just about every year but I believe one for nearly a decade. So I think this might be the time Miami's ready to challenge them," Kelly said.
"I think they're deeper talent-wise. I'm not necessarily certain I'm ready to say they're better, but they're certainly younger."
Also discussed in the episode: Patriots release Mohamed Sanu, are they better off without him? Which WR on the roster steps up with Sanu out? And much more.