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AFC East

The Bills’ Path Just Got Even Easier

News of the New York Jets’ trade of Jamal Adams to Seattle has already stormed through the football world. While the focus has generally been on the greater Super Bowl aspirations in Seattle and the drama in the New York headlines, the Buffalo Bills should simply observe it as one less obstacle in their path to a division title. The Bills already possessed the best roster in the AFC East, improved further by a solid draft class and the addition of Stefon Diggs. However, with a far more difficult schedule this year, another team in the division could reasonably hope to compete for the AFC East title if the Bills begin to falter. The Jets are now far less likely to be one of those teams.

The Bills will actually still have to face Adams in week nine of this season. A home date with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks would have been difficult anyway, and Adams will surely make that even harder. All things considered though, interconference games are the least important games on the schedule. They have basically no bearing on any tiebreaker situations and the fact that Buffalo will not see him in a Jets uniform twice per year is a far bigger boon to their success.

The Jets, with Adams, could have been reasonably expected to win nine games and possibly more depending on Sam Darnold‘s development. They had an underrated defense last year and won seven games despite having the league’s worst offense. Adams was the heart and soul of any success they had last year, including a win against Buffalo in week 17. They also had a late sixteen point lead against the Bills in week 1, only to blow that lead after linebacker C.J. Mosley departed with a groin injury. In short, had the Jets not blown that lead and laid eggs in games against Miami and Cincinnati, they would have been a postseason contender.

I actually wrote elsewhere two months ago about how important Jamal Adams was to the Jets’ defense. They were a disaster at corner and in the pass rush, yet still managed to finish near league-average in pass defense. He was a terrific coverage player, along with somehow acting as the Jets’ best linebacker and pass rusher when he was in the box. He was far and away the Jets best player and no team gets immediately better after trading their best player (see: Raiders trading Khalil Mack), regardless of the haul that he brings back. Pro Football Focus actually graded Adams as the second-best safety in football over the last two years. His replacement, Bradley McDougald, is a legitimate NFL starter, but has nowhere near the talent that Adams does.

So what does this all mean for the Bills? I am a believer that a trade of Adams will essentially eliminate the Jets from playoff contention. They will also be far less of a threat to Buffalo in head-to-head matchups. Without Adams, they look like a team that may only win five games or fewer. The Bills have high expectations and need to beat the league’s bottom-feeders to succeed. Although Josh Allen may have the strongest arm in the league, he was much more adept last year at checking down to secondary options and looking to short-to-intermediate routes to succeed. Diggs was brought in to help in all facets of the passing game, but we can only derive evidence from what we saw on tape last year. The Bills will still rely on Devin Singletary and the running game, along with the short passing game, for success. Adams is an elite intermediate cover man, a tremendous sideline-to-sideline run defender, and the best pass-rushing defensive back in football all in one player.

Bills fans should be jumping for joy because two important divisional games just got a lot easier. The Jets are flailing, New England doesn’t know who its quarterback is, the Dolphins are in the beginning stages of a rebuild, and arguably the best defensive player in the division got traded to the opposite conference. There was already very few excuses as to for the Bills not to win the AFC East this year. One of the biggest ones just talked his way from East Rutherford to Seattle.

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