Early AFC win-loss projections post 2020 NFL schedule

With the 2020 NFL schedule official, PFN's Lead NFL writer Cole Thompson breaks down his early projections for next season's AFC standouts.

Now that the NFL Draft is over and we have an idea as to what rosters will generally look like, we can break down some win-loss projections for each team. Where will your favorite franchises finish and who has the best chances of representing the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl?

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Early AFC win-loss projections for the 2020 NFL season

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: 10-6

The Buffalo Bills have been building to relevance over the past three seasons. Then again, they’ve earned it after being the NFL’s most mediocre mess since the post-Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas era. 

The pressure will be growing for Josh Allen as he enters the “prove-it” year. He’ll have the chance to make the most of his opportunities with four primetime games this season. More importantly, the team will need to beat the best taking down the likes of Bill Belichick in Weeks 8 and 16.

The schedule definitely doesn’t play in their favor. The team will host both Kansas City and Pittsburgh, but a late January game against Miami should help. On the road, an impressive Denver team could halt Buffalo from surpassing the double-digit win market.

New York Jets: 8-8

The offense could be retooled with the additions made last month. Mekhi Becton is a sure-fire starter at left tackle, and so long as nothing stops the progression of Denzel Mims, there’s your No.1 receiver. Easy right?

Much like their cartoon-style announcement, New York could be in for a comical season. An early streak of games against Buffalo, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Denver could have the team looking for help. Then again, a midseason stretch against Arizona and back-to-back games against the Dolphins could have them on the right path.

The Jets made upgrades to help Sam Darnold unleash his potential. That’s going to decide how New York ends up this season. As long as he improves and maybe can take down one of the two teams who made it to Miami, New York should at least finish with the same record as last season. 

New England Patriots: 6-10

Unless you’re a New England fan, get used to people laughing at you right now. You won 11 consecutive AFC East titles and went to eight Super Bowls since 2001, winning six, by the way. Just take your humble pie and stop complaining.


That said, with the losses outside of Tom Brady specifically on defense, both sides of the ball will take a step back. That’s going to put the team in a pickle as they have the league’s most challenging schedule, according to many. They’ll start strong with a win over Miami, but New England will play teams who finished with a .537 winning percentage last season.

Miami Dolphins: 6-10 

Their presentation was amusing for the season announcement since we’re all binging something. That won’t help Miami’s year come 2020.

The Dolphins are going to be a powerhouse in the coming future. Hint; future, not now. Even with the addition of Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins will need to hope all their rookies hit, and the offensive line improves.

Let’s not expect to see the “Tua Time” takeoff until the bye in Week 11. Until then, a win outside of Jacksonville in Week 3 or maybe the Cardinals in Week 10 could be enough to ask for. The final five games could at least seem them go above .500 though.

If you’re looking for the channel with the playoff Dolphins, the NFL throwback is around. Let’s see what else is on.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: 13-3

The Ravens were the top seed in the league last season under the likes of Lamar Jackson. That was without Calais Campbell, Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, J.K. Dobbins, and only half a year of Marcus Peters.

Look at me now, right?

The Ravens’ announcement was like a game show nod, but their season will be pretty straight forward. Outside of tougher games with Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the Ravens should be set to win near 12 straight once again. While hosting the Chiefs could be difficult, the hangover that will be Tennessee should be the game that haunts fans come Week 11.
Baltimore only grew this offseason, so games against Washington, Jacksonville, New York, Carolina, and Houston should have them coming on down to the postseason action. Meet your favorites for the AFC title.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-7 

Much like Cleveland, Pittsburgh will fight for a playoff spot. Unlike Cleveland, they’re competing with a guy halfway out the door. Ben Roethlisberger’s offseason regiment is much like the average couch coach, so let’s see if pays off.

Much like their hype video, their schedule was easy to make. The team will have a chance to win early over New York, Denver and Houston, before facing a tough task of defeating the Titans in Nashville. They’ll have a crosstown series with the Eagles, but Heinz Field gives them an edge.

So, in the early AFC projections for 2020, if Roethlisberger is 100 percent, consider them favorites over Cleveland. If not, splitting the series and defeating Cincinnati twice should have them tied.

Cleveland Browns: 9-7 

The Browns were heavy favorites to become the next great franchise after the last offseason. I’ll bite and say they’re better than 7-9, but not by much. New head coach Kevin Stefanski should be set up for a sound first year after the additions made to the horrendous offensive line. Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills will only improve the bookends while the additions of Austin Hooper gives Baker Mayfield the sixth weapon heading into the new year.

What looks to be roughly the fourth most manageable schedule, the Browns should be able to tally a few wins against teams like Houston, Las Vegas, and Washington at home. Back-to-back weekends in the blistering cold from the Hudson River are going to hurt when Cleveland heads to New York.

The Browns will be better — not playoff better, but better.

Cincinnati Bengals: 4-12

The Bengals didn’t screw it up; they got Joe Burrow and they have an easy schedule this season! Here we come, Super…

Look, buy into the Burrow hype. Smoke some stogies and be grateful that change is coming. Still, the first five games are against 2019 playoff teams. This is going to take a while.

Make sure to continue for our win-loss projections for the AFC South and West.