I'm picking Buffalo to win the East. Now before I get shredded here are my reasons:
* New England is bound to weaken. Brady may be the best QB to ever play the game but he's getting OLD. The arm strength is dropping and defenses are going to eat that up.
* Among the other 3 East teams the Bills IMO made the best off season moves and are structurally in the best place to take advantage of the situation if the Pats slide.
* The Bills have the advantage of a returning head coach & GM.
* The Bills are bringing back ALL but one of their defenders off a defense that was among the best in the NFL.
* The Bills have significantly upgraded their 2 biggest weaknesses - Offensive Line and Receiving core. These two position groups were arguably the two worst units in the NFL. For sure they were bottom 3. Even improving them to average, which I think the Bills at minimum have done, dramatically improves the team.
* So it comes down to 2nd year QB Allen. if you think Allen sucks and was a bust draft pick then you're laughing at my choice of the Bills as AFC East champs. But if your like me and think Allen showed signs of being a great NFL QB then you're excited to see his improvements for next year.
Keep in mind the Bills plans were for Allen to sit out the 2018 season like Mahomes sat out his rookie season. The idea was for Allen to improve on the bench and not play until the end of the season. Buffalo hoped McCarron could hold down the position to then.
But things didn't work out and Allen ended up starting in the 2nd game of the season. Unfortunately for the Bills AND Allen he hadn't taken very many 1st team snaps in training camp & the pre-season. Even worse his WR's had been chosen to compliment McCarron's passing style. All of this was on top of Allen being universally regarded as a RAW prospect! Throw in the NFL's worst O-line and you had a recipe for disaster.
Allen though didn't do to bad. He had a nightmarish game against Green Bay but an all pro game against Minnesota. He got hurt against Houston and missed 4 games. But when he got back the Bills had revamped the Offense to better fit Allen's style (strong arm & hyper athleticism) by replacing THREE O-lineman, cutting 2 big but slow WR's and replacing them with two fast guys (one signed off Denver's practice squad & the other an undrafted FA).
The Bills also brought in a veteran QB (D Andeson) to work with Allen. Bottom line is that all this paid off, as the game slowed down for Allen and he was a much better QB post injury then he was before getting hurt. In fact in games that he started & finished Allen went 5 - 5.
Allen now has a full off season to fine tune his footwork & throwing mechanics; a full off season to refine the offense to even better match his strengths; an upgraded O-line and receiving group and the fact that Allen will be taking most of the 1st team snaps through pre-season and I'm cautiously optimistic his game will improve substantially. And if it does I have the Bills going 10 - 6 and dethroning the Pats.