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The biggest threat to the Bills atop the AFC East in 2021

Bills, AFC East

The Buffalo Bills are coming off a 13-3 season in which they won the AFC East and made the AFC Championship Game. They had a great year, showing that they are built to compete for a Super Bowl. Their roster is centered around star quarterback Josh Allen, who signed a 6-year $258 million extension. They are a great all-around team that should be a contender for years to come.

While they are a force to be reckoned with, they are in a rising division. The New England Patriots are an underrated team that could have a successful season. The New York Jets are less of a threat, but they are building a solid core. However, the biggest threat to the Bills atop the AFC East will be the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins have built a well-rounded roster that will be a challenge for the Bills. The only question is how successful Tua Tagovailoa will be? Tagovailoa had a decent rookie campaign, but the Bills have a clear advantage at quarterback with Allen. Allen is one of the best players in the whole league and has the ability to elevate his team above where it should be.

Last season, Allen finished 2nd in MVP voting after a phenomenal season. He threw for 4,544 yards along with 37 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. On the other hand, Tagovailoa threw for 1,814 yards along with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Tagovailoa put up those numbers in the 9 games he started.

How do the Dolphins match up with the Bills?

The Dolphins match up with the Bills well, with their combination of offensive and defensive talent. They have a lot of young talent, including some budding stars. Their defense ranked 6th in the NFL according to Pro Football Reference, which will help slow down the Bills offense.

While their defense is great, the offense is what was drastically improved in the offseason. They prioritized adding weapons for Tagovailoa by signing free agent Will Fuller V and drafting Jaylen Waddle in the first round. Fuller V is an elite deep threat that could breakout in a new offense. Last season with the Houston Texans, Fuller V had 53 receptions for 879 yards and 8 touchdowns. He put up those numbers in the 11 games he played.

The other new receiver is Waddle, who is reunited with his college quarterback Tagovailoa. They already have great chemistry and should be a great QB-WR duo in year one. Tagovailoa’s other target will be the physical receiver, DeVante Parker. The trio of Parker, Waddle, and Fuller V should be elite and will challenge the Bills secondary.

What will the battle come down to in Dolphins-Bills?

The biggest factor in the Dolphins Bills battle will be Tagovailoa’s development. He went 6-3 in his starts last season, but he didn’t play as well as expected. Many have questioned his ability to be the star he was projected to be out of college.

Tagovailoa does have the most important stamp of approval in head coach Brian Flores. Flores was asked if Tagovailoa would be the week 1 starter, and he said, “Yes, I don’t know how much clearer I can be. Tua is our quarterback. I can say it again.”

Tagovailoa responded to his coach’s comments:

“I think it means a lot coming from the head coach. The support that I have from him and from the team, it means a lot. But for me, I’m just focused literally on trying to get our guys ready for next week.”

Tagovailoa has the support, but it is yet to see if he improves. This season gives him a chance with great weapons and an elite defense behind him.

If Tagovailoa has a breakout campaign, the Dolphins will threaten the Bills atop the AFC East.