BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots have had a stranglehold over the AFC East for the better part of two decades. But with Tom Brady no longer leading the way on offense, many are predicting that run to end.
Just don’t count their AFC East rivals among those doubters. In an interview Thursday, Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane said that as long as Bill Belichick is calling the shots in New England, the Patriots remain the top dog in the division until someone proves otherwise.
“The team to beat in the East is the Patriots,” Beane said in a videoconference, via ESPN.com. “And until somebody beats them, they are the team to beat. And as long as Bill Belichick’s there, you’re talking about probably the greatest head coach of all time that was paired with the greatest quarterback of all time.
“So until we beat them, we’ve done nothing,” added Beane. “And we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Beane has done a pretty good job at building up the Bills in his three years in charge. Buffalo went 10-6 last season to claim a Wild Card spot. They’re trending upward for 2020, with most of their roster back, along with the acquisition of receiver Stefon Diggs to help developing quarterback Josh Allen. They certainly look like a squad that will compete for the division, and potentially end New England’s run of 11 straight years as AFC East champs.
But in order to do so they’ll have to beat the Patriots, which the Bills have not done during Beane’s tenure. And though the New England offense is going to look a whole lot different in 2020 than it has the last 20 years, Beane isn’t counting Belichick out.
“New England is still going to be very good,” he said. “You look at what Bill Belichick did in 2008; they got robbed of a playoff. They were 11-5 with Matt Cassel at the helm,” he recalled. “So I think it’s funny and comical that people are writing them off and labeling — whether it’s us or another team — as the team to beat in the East.”
Since 2001, the Patriots have won the division every year but two, and in those years it was the New York Jets (2002) or Miami Dolphins (2008) sitting at the top. Buffalo has not won the division since 1995.