Buffalo Bills edge out Patriots for division in ESPN’s FPI projections

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Buffalo Bills are projected to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995.

The New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East for close to two decades but with the departure of Tom Brady, the Buffalo Bills are firmly in the discussion for the division title this year. While they have made the playoffs two out of the last three seasons, the AFC East division title is something they haven’t been able to secure since 1995.

ESPN recently released their 2020 season projections with the help of the Football Power Index, which is the projection model they use.

While it is good news that the Bills are the favorites to win, it is much closer than fans would like to see.

Here’s how close the margin is: Buffalo has a 41.0% chance to win the division while the Patriots are all the way down at … 40.9%. This division is a toss-up for the first time since we discovered fire.

The Bills rank one spot behind the Patriots in FPI’s rankings but have a slightly easier schedule. For their non-common opponents, the Patriots play the Ravens and Houston Texans, while the Bills play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.

While the division at this point appears too close to call the FPI does give the Buffalo Bills a 60% chance of making the playoffs, their second season in a row. The last time the Bills made the playoffs in back to back seasons was 1998 and 1999.

Should the AFC East race be this close?

The New England Patriots were not only the favorites in the AFC East with Tom Brady under center but they were regularly entering the season with some of the best odds to win the Super Bowl.

The departure of Tom Brady is going to hurt, but that wasn’t the only loss this team suffered. They also loss key players on the best defense in the league with Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton heading to the Detroit Lions and Kyle Van Noy heading to the Miami Dolphins.

Last year, it wasn’t the offense that was carrying this franchise but the defense and they will need to replicate that performance again if they hope to compete in the division.

Next: Preseason All-AFC East team: Defense

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills didn’t lose any key starters on either side of the ball but added depth on defense and star power on offense. It is hard to immediately dismiss two decades worth of dominance but projections like the FPI should not have the Bills and Patriots this close.

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