We've heard all offseason, even from Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane, that the New England Patriots should still be the favorite to win the AFC East in 2020.
Fans have been so battered and beaten by the Patriots over the last two decades that despite New England losing future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, seemingly ready to start an unknown 2019 fourth round quarterback in Jarrett Stidham and losing multiple core defensive pieces like linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, many believed the Patriots were still going to be a problem in 2020.
Even for Bill Belichick, arguably the best head coach (and defensive mind) of all-time, elevating such an untalented roster like the one he has in 2020 by himself was going to be a tough ask.
Then on Sunday, he signed Cam Newton and suddenly everything changed.
This should make many people nervous. Newton under center makes all that talk about the Patriots not going away much more plausible for multiple reasons:
Maybe in the 1970s Newton's injuries would make sure he was never the same elite dual-threat of the past, but this is 2020 and Newton has had two years to recover from his shoulder injury, and a year to recover from the ankle. This is a player that has stayed healthy for the vast majority of his career. If these two injuries are in the rear-view mirror, we could be talking about the Patriots acquiring a top-10 quarterback in late-June.
Newton coming in to help with that task makes it much more realistic. The Patriots' offensive talent is pretty brutal. A 34-year-old Julian Edelman, a very average WR2 in Mohamed Sanu, and an unproven second-year wide receiver in N'Keal Harry makes up New England's wide receiver corps. The tight ends and offensive line aren't in great shape either.
The good news for the Patriots is Newton has dealt with this his entire career. This is a player that was a league MVP, led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record, and a Super Bowl appearance in 2015 with Ted Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and old man Jericho Cotchery to throw the football to.
Outside of 2018, Newton never had a good supporting cast. He was still a top-tier starting quarterback.
Give him Belichick and a defense that will keep the Patriots in every game? That could be enough to stay atop the conference.
Josh McDaniels should have the same affect on Newton in New England. McDaniels and Brady were an offensive machine for years, while he also got good play out of backups like Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett running the Patriots offense.
Newton signing with the Patriots shouldn't change the buzz around the Bills right now. Buffalo has an incredibly talented roster that got significantly better in the offseason. Coming off a 10-win season, they should still be seen as a playoff favorite in the AFC. Newton heading to the AFC East does, however, make things a lot more interesting in the division race.
New England is, once again, a legitimate threat that the Bills can't take lightly.