AFC East QBs offer promise, but Buffalo Bills are clear 2021 favorite

The question at that time was whether the Buffalo Bills were ready to challenge the New England Patriots' grip on the AFC East. That was answered decisively by the Bills.The Bills proved to not only be the new kings in the division that the Patriots had dominated for almost two decades, winning 17 of 19 titles. Sean McDermott's Buffalo team also proved it can compete in the AFC by reaching the conference title game against Kansas City Chiefs.The Bills are the AFC East's favorite team, and there are many questions being asked. The Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores is all in on Tua Tagovailoa, the second-year quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. This is to improve on last year's second place divisional finish. The Patriots are Coach Bill Belichick's goal to be back in prominence and will spend big in the offseason with hopes that 2020 will be a one-year blip.The New York Jets, which have had a 10-year playoff drought, have brought new life to the franchise by hiring Robert Saleh, a positive coach, and naming Zach Wilson, a BYU quarterback, at No. 2nd overall in the 2021 NFL DraftThese are the three most important questions facing AFC East. ESPN NFL Nation reporters Marcel Louis-Jacques, Cameron Wolfe (Dolphins), Mike Reiss(Patriots), Rich Cimini (Jets), and Rich Cimini [Jets] provide answers.What is the Bills' advantage over the pack?Louis-Jacques: This question might bring tears of joy to Bills fans in Western New York. Buffalo is the AFC East. Josh Allen was the quarterback that he showed flashes of in his first two seasons. The offense won to such an extent that it dominated the game that the defense nearly lost its elite status. There are few signs that Buffalo will not win the second consecutive division title in 2021 with the same key players on both sides of it, including a rare fourth season with the same offensive coordinator, coach and defensive coordinator. Although Miami is the favorite betting favourite to beat the Bills in 2021, that outcome will depend on Tagovailoa’s progress. The Patriots and Jets cannot keep up offensively with Buffalo, so they are at least a year away from contending for the division title.Wolfe: The Bills have a division to lose. The Bills finished three wins ahead of the Dolphins (second-place team in AFC East), and there was not much done by any other teams this offseason to convince us that they have close the gap. The Bills are the most complete team, with the best quarterback (Allen), the best wide receiver Stefon Diggers (offensive skill player) and the best quarterback in the division. To contend, however, keep an eye on Miami. Tagovailoa is under pressure to perform. However, Miami's defense ranks among the best in the division. Jaylen Waddle and William Fuller V are wide receivers that should add much-needed explosiveness to the offense. Buffalo holds the advantage at this point.Reiss: Matt Milano, a linebacker, signed a $44 million, four-year deal just before free agency began. This was a clear sign that the Bills are ahead of the rest. Teams that draft (Milano, a fifth-round selection in 2017, was taken), develop and keep their players are often the best. The fact that Milano decided to stay rather than test the open market was an indication that the Bills have reached the desired level in McDermott’s fifth season. The division gap is closing, although the Bills (11-3) were three games better that the Dolphins (10-6), and significantly more than the Patriots (9-6) and Jets (2-14). But Buffalo is still a good team.Play 1:12 Why Ninkovich does not expect Cam Rob Ninkovich believes that the Patriots' style system is a better fit than Cam Newton for Mac Jones.Cimini: I believe in the coach-quarterback dynamic and McDermott, Allen are the best. Market correction is in order for the Dolphins. They took advantage of an easy schedule last year, winning only one game against a team with a winning record. As they go through Tagavailoa’s growing pains, I can see a drop in performance. They won't be as bad as last season, but this year is a transition year for the Patriots. They will get stuck on traffic at QB, Cam Newton-to Mac Jones bridge. The Jets? Although they are moving in the right direction, after two years of brutal coaching under Adam Gase's guidance, their talent is not up to par.Which player is under the greatest pressure this season?Wolfe: Tagovailoa. Over the past eight months, no young player in the NFL was subject to more scrutiny. The negative talk surrounding Tagovailoa is extensive. It has included Ryan Fitzpatrick's replacement twice in fourth quarters last year, the rumors about a Houston Texans trade for quarterback Deshaun Wilson, and the minicamp practice with five interceptions this offseason. While some of the criticism is justified, much of it seems exaggerated. He is ultimately the only one who can stop the noise. He will be able to lead Miami to the playoffs in a bounce-back season, which will give hope that he is still the Dolphins' franchise quarterback. This guy has been missing since Dan Marino retired 21 year ago. A weak season could lead to a QB search in the offseason. You can't get any more pressured than 1:51 Why Tua Tagovailoa is a concern Jeff Saturday reacts when Tua Tagovailoa throws five interceptions during Dolphins minicamp.Louis-Jacques: While there are high expectations of the Patriots' Jones, and the Jets’ Wilson, they will both likely get at most two years to prove their worth. Tagovailoa is currently in his second season and leads a team that could be considered a playoff contender. His collegiate success and the hype surrounding his entry into the league didn't allow him to have a smooth start to his NFL career. However, Bills fans should not be quick to dismiss a rookie quarterback.Reiss: Do you remember the whole "Tank for Tua” discussion? Now it's completely different. It's more like "Is it too much for Tua?" Fitzpatrick's contributions were key to the Dolphins reaching the playoffs last year. Miami lost the playoffs last season with Tagovailoa in charge. It's now Tagovailoa's show in 2021. The Dolphins are looking to build upon a 10-win season that was largely fueled by FitzMagic. Tagovailoa is under more pressure than anyone in the AFC East.Cimini: I was tempted to agree with my friends Marcel, Cameron and Mike. Tagovailoa is feeling a lot of pressure so I decided to stick close to home and choose Wilson. He was the No. He was the No. 2 pick in the draft. This automatically adds a lot of pressure, especially in New York. The Jets have made him The One, by not adding a veteran quarterback to their roster. They are ready to ride the rookie roller coaster without an "emergency stop" switch. The final straw: Wilson will be facing his predecessor Sam Darnold when the Jets open their 2021 season against Carolina Panthers. You won't be disappointed, kid.No. No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson gives hope to the Jets, but there are growing pains this season. Bill Kostroun/APWhich franchise has the best 3-year outlook?Cimini: It's hard to believe that I don't pick the Patriots out purely of habit. But, will Belichick still be around in three more years? Jones is the quarterback answer? Wilson is the answer for the Jets Tagovailoa to Miami? The Bills are able to choose a well-respected quarterback and coach, making this an easy decision. Their momentum should be sustained by their young players. The Jets have a great coach in Saleh. But the roster has some work to do. We'll have to wait and see. We'll see if Saleh and Wilson smash their honeymoon season.Reiss: If the Bills sign Tremaine Edmunds and quarterback Allen, it will cement them as the team with the best three year outlook. With this caveat, I'm all for the Bills. However, I think the Patriots will send a huge thank-you note the San Francisco 49ers for allowing Jones to be their No. #3 overall draft pick. He made it all the way to New England as No. He has impressed both coaches and players by his first impression. New England's three year outlook could be threatened if he is the future quarterback, as the Patriots believe.Louis-Jacques: Bills are AFC East kings, and here's why: Most of their cornerstones were either drafted in the last few years or are still in their athletic prime. Allen could be granted a contract extension comparable to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Diggs, cornerback Tre’Davious White, left guard Dion Dawkins, Milano, and left tackle Dion Dawkins have all been signed for the foreseeable near future. Edmunds could be signed as soon as this summer. Brandon Beane, the general manager of the NFL draft has a solid track record and it is becoming clear that Buffalo is a great place for veterans who want win. The pendulum could swing to the other side if Tagovailoa and the Dolphins take the next step. But as long as Allen is throwing pass in Orchard Park New York, the Bills are a force.Wolfe: Miami will be the winning team in 2024. Although there is no doubt that the Bills are the dominant team right now, I am betting that Tagovailoa will become the Dolphins' quarterback. The Dolphins have the highest ceiling and best championship potential of any team in this division. Over the past two drafts, Miami has drafted nine players within the top two rounds. Additional picks will be available in 2022/23. This young core will be paired with a talented roster and will surpass Buffalo in the next three seasons.