New York – The Buffalo Bills haven't won the AFC East title since 1995, but the quarterback of that team predicts things will change in 2020.
Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly said in an interview on CBS Sports radio that he expects the Bills to end the New England Patriots' long reign in the division this season. New England has won 16 of the past 17 division championships but enter the season without quarterback Tom Brady on the roster for the first time since 2000.
"If they don't, then something's wrong," Kelly said. "Tom Brady is not there to block you anymore, so that, to me, is huge."
Kelly said he has faith in third-year quarterback Josh Allen and the roster the Buffalo front office has been building.
"I think he's taken a big jump," Kelly said of Allen. "I'm proud of the way he's handled everything. His leadership is something I think the team was looking for and they finally got it — a quarterback to come in here and make it their team — and Josh has definitely shown that. I think the only thing he needs to work on — he's such a great athlete that I think sometimes when he drops back and his first option is not there, he relies on his athletic ability to make a play when it's not there right away. If he goes through his progressions more, I think he'll find out that the bigger play might be there. The good thing about it is we have a quarterback who is an athlete, that can make big plays with their legs."
All that should translate to an AFC East title, Kelly said.
"Now that Brady is gone, I definitely do think that the Bills are the team to beat, even though you look at the Jets, they're getting better, Miami and Tua (Tagovailoa) coming in. I think they're going to be better," Kelly said.
"And of course, (coach Bill) Belichick is going to have New England ready to play. We'll see what happens at the quarterback position in New England, but right now, there's no doubt that the Bills are probably favored to win the AFC East and if they don't, then they must have some serious injuries because they have all the ingredients it takes to move on in the playoffs."
Kelly, now 60, played for the Bills from 1986-96, leading them to four straight Super Bowls — all losses — in that time. Since his retirement, he's been a cheerleader for his former team and revealed he tried to use his influence as an elder statesman of the AFC East through the years.
"Tom is getting older, he's getting old, but he can still play," Kelly said of the 42-year-old Brady. "I tried to talk him into retiring two or three years ago. He wouldn't listen to me. I don't know why."