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Sean McDermott explains why Patriots are still division favorite despite losing Tom Brady

Sean McDermott, Bills

The New England Patriots lost Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency back in March, which has many believing that the Patriots’ two-decade-long stranglehold over the AFC East is over in favor of the Buffalo Bills.

But while most believe that the Bills, who actually challenged New England for the division crown this past season, are now the favorites, head coach Sean McDermott isn’t buying the Pats’ demise:

“Anytime you bring up some of those words—expectations, pressure—number one, I think it shows you that people respect the way we’re doing things overall, which is nice,” said McDermott, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. “But number two, and just as important, the Patriots, look, they’ve won the division for X amount of years. … Until someone is able to win the division, to us, the Patriots remain the favorite. Why shouldn’t they? You tell me one reason why they shouldn’t.”

The Patriots have won the division 11 years in a row and 16 of the last 17 seasons, with the only year New England didn’t capture the AFC East crown during that span coming in 2008 when Brady played was knocked out due to a torn ACL in Week 1.

The door is certainly open for Buffalo to step in and begin a new dawn in the division, but McDermott thinks that his team has a little while to go before setting those types of expectations:

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, we really do,” he said. “And our players work hard, there’s no doubt about that. I think that’s the one thing that I can say: We embrace that we’ve got to earn things.”

The Bills won 10 games and made just their second playoff appearance since 2000 this past year.