Why Stephen A. Smith Believes Patriots Remain Team To Beat In AFC East


Some believe Tom Brady’s departure signaled an end of New England the Patriots’ run of dominance in the AFC East.

Stephen A. Smith believes those folks should hold their horses.

There’s no doubt Brady’s absence will be felt, but it’s not as though the sky is falling in Foxboro. New England’s defense still is poised to be one of the stronger units in the league this season, and it never hurts to have the greatest football coach of all time calling the shots.

For these reasons and more, Smith still considers the Patriots as AFC East favorites as the 2020 season nears.

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“Of course they’re still the team to beat because I mean, listen, when you look at the Buffalo Bills and obviously they had a good year last year and they’re up-and-coming, but they still have a young dude at the quarterback spot,” Smith said Friday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “If you’re the New England Patriots coached by Bill Belichick, particularly with how elite that defense is, you’re gonna know how to take advantage of those situations. They’ll figure out a way to do it.

“Until somebody knocks off the Patriots, I’m of the mindset that the personnel they have on the defensive side of the ball along with exceptional coaching, their system, the fact that Bill Belichick along with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is still there, I think your money still has to be on them unless either a superstar arrives at the quarterback position for one of the other teams or they get an experienced quarterback at that position. I don’t think a young quarterback, as good as Josh Allen may ultimately end up being — I don’t believe that will be enough to upend the New England Patriots at this moment in time. They’re still the favorites in the AFC East, but it’s primarily because the division is so weak.”

While Buffalo players might disagree with Smith’s take, its general manager is on the same page. Brandon Beane recently expressed belief that the Patriots still are the team to beat in the AFC East and that the Bills “have their work cut out for them” if they want to knock New England off.

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Thumbnail photo via Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports Images

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