Bills GM surprised by Tom Brady leaving the Patriots, still views New England as team to beat in AFC East

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had an extremely tight grip on the AFC East essentially ever since the 2001 season when the quarterback rose to stardom following the injury to Drew Bledsoe. In all, the Patriots have won the division 17 times since 2001 and have won eleven straight. The last team to edge out New England in the AFC East was the Miami Dolphins in 2008. After that, you have to go back to the 2002 New York Jets as the only other team to claim an AFC East title following Brady becoming the starter. 

Well, times could be changing as it relates to that dominance following Brady’s decision to sign with the Tamp Bay Buccaneers this offseason and put his two-decade-long run with the Patriots to a close. 

“Candidly, I did not expect Tom to leave,” Bills GM Brandon Beane said Thursday, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.

While Beane may have not expected Brady and the Pats to part ways, he does have his team in the best position to possibly usurp New England as the elite club in the division. They are currently building off a 2019 campaign where they were able to make the playoffs and just pulled off a trade that landed them star receiver Stefon Diggs. 

The latest odds at William Hill, however, still do have the Patriots as the favorites to win the division in 2020 at +100, but Buffalo is a close second at +140. Beane does seem to agree with the oddsmakers too as he explained he still views New England as the team to beat in the division heading into next year. 

“New England’s still going to be very good,” he said. “I think it’s funny, comical that people are writing them off. The team to beat in the east is the Patriots.”

The presence of Bill Belichick still driving the bus in Foxborough does play a big factor in why clubs across the NFL are still not taking the Patriots lightly. That said, second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who reportedly has the inside track at earning the starting job, is a virtual unknown. If he struggles, that could derail the success we’re accustomed to seeing from New England. 

In the event that the post-Tom Brady era doesn’t start out so smoothly for New England, the Bills are in prime position to claim its first division title since 1995. 

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