Frank Gore Says AFC East is ‘Wide Open’ Without Tom Brady in New England
- Jets RB Frank Gore says AFC East is “wide open” without Tom Brady
- Bills are listed at +125 to win the division, narrowly ahead of Patriots (+130)
- Patriots have won the AFC East in each of the last 10 seasons
For the first time in two decades, the AFC East is going to look a little different in 2020. That’s because the New England Patriots won’t have Tom Brady under center for the first time since he was drafted in 2000. Brady signed with Tampa Bay earlier this offseason, which has left the division up for grabs heading into the new campaign.
Veteran running back Frank Gore knows a thing or two about the AFC East. That’s probably because he’s now set to play for his third AFC East franchise in as many seasons after signing a one-year deal with the New York Jets this offseason. Gore was the leading rusher for the Buffalo Bills last season after spending 2018 with the Miami Dolphins.
In a video conference with reporters on Thursday, Gore said that the division is now wide open without Brady looming over it. Gore said, “It’s wide open. Brady’s gone, and it’s wide open. You’ve got young quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Josh [Allen]. I don’t know what Miami is doing or whatever. I think it’s wide open.”
The Patriots have won the division 17 times since 2000, and they will enter the 2020 campaign as the 10-time reigning AFC East champions. The last time a team other than New England took the division was back in 2008, when the 11-5 Dolphins did so.
The Jets plan to use Gore as the primary backup for Le’Veon Bell, who was an incredible disappointment last year in his first campaign with the Jets. Gore is familiar with Jets head coach Adam Gase, who held the same position with the Dolphin for Gore’s lone season in South Beach. Gase and Bell reportedly have something of a tenuous relationship, which means Gore could wind up getting more playing time if Bell endures some early-season struggles.
Odds Favor Buffalo Slightly Over New England
Gore’s comments ring true if you look at the early betting odds ahead of the upcoming season. For the first time in years, the Patriots are currently not the betting favorite to win the AFC East. That title belongs to the Buffalo Bills, who secured a Wild Card spot last season after an impressive 10-6 season.
The updated odds, per BetOnline, are as follows:
|Team||Odds at BetOnline|
|New England Patriots||+130|
|New York Jets||+800|
When asked about his role, Gore said that he’s happy to be Bell’s backup. He said, “I’m cool. I’m happy to be playing this game at my age. I’m happy that this organization is giving me an opportunity. I’m just coming in to work and help with all the young guys, and show them young guys I can still play. Whenever I get my number called, I’ll just try to go out and make a play for our team to be successful. I’m very excited.”
Gore’s Stellar Career
Gore will be suiting up for his fifth NFL franchise since being a third-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers back in the 2005 draft. The 37-year-old is the NFL’s third all-time leading rusher, with over 15,300 yards to his name. Last season, Gore carried the ball 166 times for 599 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Despite the 599 yards last season being a career-low, Gore said he never considered retirement. When asked if the thought crossed his mind, he said, “I didn’t, because when I was playing the first six or seven games, I was balling. Once Buffalo started playing a younger guy, I felt like I could still do it. I just had to see what team would give me an opportunity.”
Gore eventually lost playing time to rookie Devin Singletary, who earned the Bills’ starting job as the season progressed.
Brady’s new team, the Bucs, are listed at +120 to win the NFC South. That puts them right behind the New Orleans Saints (+110), who have won the division in each of the last three seasons.
The Jets finished 7-9 last season, which was good for third place in the AFC East. New York enters the 2020 season tied with Miami (+800) for the worst odds to win the division.