Buffalo Bills have pressure in AFC East for first time in 25 yearsBy Matt Verderame
The Buffalo Bills have expectations.
If you’re of college age or younger, you probably had to read that sentence a few times. Yes, the Bills, who haven’t won a playoff game since 1995 — the last time they hosted a playoff game — are expected to win the AFC East.
After 20 years of looking up at Belichick, Brady and the New England Patriots, it’s Buffalo with the best roster. The Buffalo Bills have done a superb job of locking up key pieces this offseason. They landed receiver Stefon Diggs in a Monday trade with the Vikings for a litany of picks, including a first-rounder. Buffalo also signed defensive end Mario Addison, who had 10 sacks with the Carolina Panthers last season.
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General manager Brandon Beane did watch edge rusher Shaq Lawson and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips leave in free agency. However, he should feel good about his group.
This season, the AFC East is in a state of flux like none other.
The Patriots are without Brady — or any decent quarterback for that matter — after the future first-ballot Hall of Famers left Foxborough for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New England did add Brian Hoyer to the mix. Although, nobody is excited for the camp battle between Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.
In Miami, strides have been taken. The Dolphins added Lawson, cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and others. However, the reality has Miami looking at another offseason or so before true playoff contention.
The New York Jets finished 7-9 last year (and 6-2 in the final eight games), but failed to improve the roster in any meaningful way. New York is banking on third-year quarterback Sam Darnold stepping up alongside head coach Adam Gase.
The Bills, meanwhile, are coming off their second playoff appearance in as many years. While a leveling-up from quarterback Josh Allen would be fantastic, even steady play would be adequate to win what could be the weakest division in football.
Buffalo has one of the league’s best defense, buttressed by linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, cornerback Tre’Davious White and a fearsome front.
After decades of being lost in the NFL wilderness, the Bills have a chance to win their division and host a playoff game for the first time since the Clinton Administration.
Of course, the pressure that comes along with realistic dreams is new. How they react will mean everything.