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ESPN 2020 season projections still see Patriots as a top-10 team in the NFL

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Related: Rob Ninkovich thinks that Brian Hoyer will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback in Week 1

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

With the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick duo getting split up over the course of this year’s offseason, the New England Patriots are entering something they have not experienced since the early 2000s: life without the greatest quarterback to ever grace the gridiron. Naturally, expectations for the team heading into their 2020 campaign are therefore all over the place — from “everything will be fine” to “Tank for Trevor!” to “meh”.

The self-proclaimed world wide leader in sports, meanwhile, still has the team listed as a top-10 squad in the NFL in its new projections for the upcoming season: ESPN currently has New England ranked at number nine, with a 8.6 percent chance to win the Super Bowl and a 60 percent chance to participate in the playoffs for a 12th year in a row. Another streak, however, would come to an end in case the projection turns out to be accurate.

According to ESPN analyst Seth Walder, the Buffalo Bills have a bigger chance of winning the AFC East than the 11-time defending champions. However, the two teams’ odds are nearly identical:

Here’s how close the margin is: Buffalo has a 41.0% chance to win the division while the Patriots are all the way down at ... 40.9%. This division is a toss-up for the first time since we discovered fire.

The Bills rank one spot behind the Patriots in FPI’s rankings but have a slightly easier schedule. For their non-common opponents, the Patriots play the Ravens and Houston Texans, while the Bills play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.

The Patriots are one of four teams currently not projected to repeat as division champions. The Houston Texans are projected to get leap-frogged by the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South, while the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers are projected to be shoved aside by the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.