Analysis Around the League

Predicting each division winner for the 2020 NFL season

It may be hard to believe, but the NFL season’s Opening Night is a month away. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has canceled minicamp, OTAs, and all of the preseason, the NFL season is so close that it is within our reach. Now, let’s take a look at my division winners for the 2020 NFL season.

AFC East

Division Winner: Buffalo Bills

The AFC East has been dominated by Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots over the past decade, winning the division for 11 straight seasons. However, Tom Brady took his talents to Tampa Bay to become a Buccaneer and the team has Cam Newton taking over as QB. In addition, the team has seen key players like Dont’a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, and Patrick Chung opt-out of the season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With all of this in mind and another really good football team in this division, the Patriots reign at the top of the AFC East will come to an end as the Buffalo Bills will come out on top in this division. The Bills made an early splash in free agency by trading for Stefon Diggs. Diggs becomes the true No. 1 option for quarterback Josh Allen, which he hasn’t had his entire career.

The offense still has John Brown, who set career-highs with 1,060 receiving yards and 72 receptions. Devin Singletary is the lead back this year after a solid rookie campaign rushing for 775 yards in 12 games, as he and Frank Gore led the eighth-best rushing attack in 2019.

This year, Josh Allen should put up career numbers as he adds Diggs into the mix of Brown and Cole Beasley. The Bills offense has the firepower to be one of the league’s best.

The Bills also have one of the league’s best defenses. The secondary has the No. 2 cornerback in the NFL with first-team All-Pro Tre’Davious White along with one of the best safety tandems in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

The linebacker room got another boost with the signing of A.J. Klein from New Orleans. He mixes in with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. The front line lost Shaq Lawson in free agency but added A.J. Epenesa in the draft. The Bills defensive unit last year ranked third in yards allowed, and the defense is up for the challenge again in 2020.

The Bills have not won a division title since 1995, but this year the drought ends.

AFC North

Division Winner: Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens set the league on fire last year. After starting 2-2, they finished the season with a 12-game winning streak and finished with the best record in the NFL at 14-2. In the midst of all that, the offense set the record for most rushing yards in a season by a team in NFL History.

The offense did lose Marshal Yanda to retirement, which hurts the line. However, the offense didn’t need to improve as they have the reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson. The ground game got better as the Ravens selected running back J.K. Dobbins out of Ohio State in the NFL Draft.

The defense, on the other hand, got even better. They started off the offseason by trading for All-Pro defensive end, Calais Campbell, and signing him to a two-year extension. The front four got a lot better with the acquisition of Campbell and Derek Wolfe.

The linebacker room got a huge boost in the draft by selecting Patrick Queen (LSU) and Malik Harrison (Ohio State). Queen is set to fill the void that has been left in the defense since the departure of C.J. Mosley. The Baltimore defense was already amongst a top defense, but this year they could be the best defense in the league.

The Ravens will come away with their third straight AFC North title in 2020.

AFC South

Division Winner: Tennessee Titans

This was a hard division to pick the champion, but I am going to give it to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans shocked the league last season by making it to the AFC Championship game, beating the Patriots and Ravens en route to the loss in Kansas City. This year, they will continue their success and grab the division title.

The offensive line did lose Jack Conklin in free agency but used their first-round draft pick on offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson out of Georgia. The offense has stayed the same as they re-signed Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to long-term deals during the offseason. Henry was the rushing yards king in 2019 and bullied the Patriots and Ravens defenses to lead the Titans to the AFCCG.

Henry is one of the league’s best running backs and the toughest one to take down as he will truck through any defender. Henry will fuel the offense again this season and could win the rushing title two straight years. Tannehill helped turn the Titans around and get them into the playoffs last year. This year, he will need to continue his success for the Titans to win the division.

A.J. Brown had a solid rookie campaign and looks to take it a step up this year with Corey Davis opposite of him on the field. The one thing that we all know about the Tennessee offense is that its engine is Derrick Henry.

The defense saw some big hits in free agency as the traded Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos for a draft pick and Logan Ryan who is still on the free-agent market. However, the defense still has Jeffrey Simmons and Kevin Byard.

The cornerback room got a boost in the draft with the selection of Kristian Fulton out of LSU. Vic Beasley was a cheap, veteran signing with Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans leading the linebacker core. The Titans defensive unit may have taken a couple of hits in free agency, but it still is one of the league better defenses.

The Titans have not won a division title since 2008, but the drought will end as they will come out on top of the South in 2020.

AFC West

Division Winner: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are coming off of their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years after completing three comebacks of at least 10 points in the playoffs. The team has taken a few hits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with three players opting out, but the Chiefs remain as one of the league’s best teams, if not the best.

The offense has essentially remained the same. Super Bowl MVP, Patrick Mahomes, signed the largest contract in North American sports this offseason and is ready to repeat. The offense saw some losses with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Lucas Niang, and Damien Williams opting out of the 2020 season. However, the Chiefs signed Kelechi Osemele to fill the void left by LDT.

The Chiefs used the No. 32 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on running back Clyde-Edwards Helaire out of LSU. He is a perfect fit for Andy Reid’s system and is going to be the lead back in 2020 without Damien Williams on the roster. The offense brought back Sammy Watkins on a restructured deal and Demarcus Robinson on a one-year deal.

The top weapons on the offense are returning with Hill and Kelce, but Mecole Hardman is set to have an increased role in the offense in 2020. The Chiefs have been one of the best offenses the past two years, and nothing is going to change as they will remain at the top.

The defense saw an early departure with Kendall Fuller returning to the Washington Football Team. However, the Chiefs kept the rest of the starting defense with re-signing Bashaud Breeland and giving Chris Jones a four-year extension.

The Chiefs defense improved from 26th in DVOA in 2018 to 14th in 2019. The addition of Tyrann Mathieu made a huge difference. The defense will still remain solid and might even take another jump this year as Juan Thornhill returns from injury and the addition of Willie Gay Jr. to the linebacker position is huge.

The Chiefs have 20 of 22 Super Bowl starters returning this season. Brett Veach proved he is one of the best executives by his work to sign Mahomes and Jones while keeping money on the cap. The Chiefs will take their fifth straight AFC West title in 2020.

NFC East

Division Winner: Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys disappointed once again last season, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. However, they have the best roster in their division and one of the best in football. The Cowboys finally got rid of Jason Garett as head coach and have moved on to Mike McCarthy. This year, the Cowboys get back to the top and rule the NFC East.

The offense took a hit early on this offseason with the shocking retirement of five-time Pro Bowl center, Travis Frederick. In response, the Cowboys added Joe Looney in free agency and drafted Tyler Biadasz out of Wisconsin to replace Frederick at center.

The Cowboys made their offense more dangerous with the addition of CeeDee Lamb in the first round of the draft. Dak Prescott now has three options at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Lamb. Don’t forget about Ezekiel Elliot at running back to.

The Cowboys offense was ranked No.1 last year, and now adding Lamb into the mix helps them retain that top spot. Prescott posted career-highs in yards and touchdowns last year. He was under 100 yards short of 5,000 passing yards, but this year he could reach that milestone with his strong arsenal.

The defense for the Cowboys last year disappointed, especially the front four as the team ranked 19th in sacks with 39. In result, they went out and signed Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe from Carolina to boost the defensive line.

They still have a terrific linebacker core with Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Sean Lee that will look to bounce back after a rough season last year.

The secondary is the main concern as Byron Jones is gone after signing a massive deal with the Dolphins in free agency, leaving Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown as starters. However, the added Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to boost the safety room.

The Cowboys are set to be one of the most explosive teams in the NFL this season and with new head coach Mike McCarthy, they will take the throne at the top of the NFC East.

NFC North

Division Winner: Green Bay Packers

The Packers have left Aaron Rodgers out to dry for years now with wide receivers. Out of the 35 receivers taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Packers drafted zero. Instead, they took Rodgers successor, Jordan Love, in the first round after trading up. However, despite all of the drama, the Packers remain at the top of the North.

Aaron Jones had a career year last year, exploding for 1,084 yards and 16 touchdowns. He will remain the top option at running back and looks to continue his production from 2019. Davante Adams is still the No. 1 option and one of the only options for Aaron Rodgers.

The offensive line saw Bryan Bulaga leave for the Los Angeles Chargers as well. However, Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and is going to lead the offense and team to their seventh division title in eleven years.

The defense still has the Smith duo, who were the lone pair of teammates in the NFL to have 15 sacks each last year. The defense still has Jaire Alexander, who’s is a rising star, and Adrian Amos. The defense has pieces that led to some success last year, but the worry is if the Smith duo can keep up the production and if the rest of the defense can hold their weight.

The Packers will win this division because of Aaron Rodgers. He will carry them and lead them to another division title as Matt LaFleur enters his second season as head coach. Also, the Vikings will take a step back this year with the losses of Everson Griffen and Stefon Diggs, leaving the door open for them to continue their dominance.

NFC South

Divison Winner: New Orleans Saints

Despite the Buccaneers signing of Tom Brady and the improvement made by both Atlanta and Carolina, the Saints are the team to beat in the South. With that being said, they will win their fourth straight NFC South title.

Drew Brees is back on a new two-year deal and has a new weapon on his offense with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders. He already has one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with Michael Thomas and a solid tight end with Jared Cook, but adding in Emmanuel Sanders sends that offense over the top.

Alvin Kamara is going to have a bounce-back year and be a key piece to the offense with Michael Thomas still putting up massive numbers. Sanders and Cook are great options for Brees to have alongside Thomas as he will get a lot of attention from defenses. The Saints offense will be one of the league’s best.

Don’t forget about the talent on their defense either. Cameron Jordan and DeMario Davis are two extremely underrated players in the league and Malcolm Jenkins returns to New Orleans to pair with Marshon Lattimore in the secondary. They have pieces at all three levels of the defense, which makes them scary.

The Saints continue to be on of the most balanced teams in the NFL and despite their playoff woes, they are the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LV.

NFC West

Division Winner: Seattle Seahawks

Last year, the 49ers shocked the league by winning the NFC West and making it to the Super Bowl. This year, they will remain a playoff team, but not as the kings of the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks will regain the crown and win their first division title since 2016.

The Seahawks have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL with Russell Wilson, who is still an MVP candidate. He is arguably the most balanced QB with his ability to throw and run, creating multiple plays with his feet. Last year, he had the addition of DK Metcalf to pair with Tyler Lockett, and that’ll stay the same this year.

They have a new weapon with tight end Greg Olsen joining them in free agency. Don’t forget that the organization is watching the Josh Gordon situation as they want to bring him back as well. Chris Carson is returning from injury and is a solid option at running back for the Seahawks. The offense is really good and is going to put up a lot of points this season.

The defense just got a huge upgrade with the acquisition of Jamal Adams. Look at what Tyrann Mathieu did for the Chiefs last season as he helped improve that defense drastically; the Seahawks could see that with Adams. I still believe they will re-sign Jadeveon Clowney, and if they do, watch out for this defense as they could shock some people.

The Seahawks come close to winning the division a year ago, but feel short because of their defense. If Jamal Adams can make as big of a difference as they are hoping, then this team will take the division as the offense will still be efficient.