The Bills have done a very good job of keeping internal and external expectations reasonable in light of the departure of Tom Brady from the AFC East. Former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly has broken ranks in that regard.
Asked during a recent appearance on CBS Sports Radio whether the Bills should win the division, Kelly didn’t say “the Patriots are still the Patriots” or “the Bills have to prove it on the field” or anything that keeps the target on the team to a minimum. Instead, Kelly attached the target and pointed to it.
“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. . . .
“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.”
Given their history, it’s easy to say that the Patriots remain the team to beat, until someone does. With AFC East championships dating back to 2003 but for the Tom Brady ACL season of 2008 (they still went 11-5 that year), the Patriots are the team to beat. And the Bills would prefer that to be the perception.
That way, Buffalo winning the AFC East would be a pleasant surprise, and failing to win it would not be regarded as a failure.
So the Bills likely would prefer that you pay no attention to Kelly’s opinion. The Patriots are the still the Patriots. The Bills have to prove it on the field. Until they do, the Patriots are the team to beat.