This week, we started our eight previews in eight days series, whipping around the NFL to give an in-depth look at each division and to provide our picks on who we think will win the titles. We started with the NFC West, home of the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams.
Well, from one Super Bowl team to a team with Super Bowl aspirations, our preview series heads from the NFC West to the AFC East, home of the SB favorite Buffalo Bills. A Bills team, that just so happens to open their season against the Rams, in what could be a Super Bowl matchup.
While the Bills’ road to a Super Bowl may not be as cut-and-dry, if Buffalo doesn’t win the AFC East it is because one of two things happening: 1) Josh Allen suffered a season ending injury or 2) there is no two.
The Bills are so much better than every team in their division that they should absolutely cakewalk to the title for a third year in a row. Although people thought that last year and somehow the New England Patriots managed to give them a run for their money. But 2022 is different.
The Bills are favored to win the Super Bowl, ending a championship drought that once saw them lost four Super Bowls in a row. If ever there was a time for Buffalo, that time is now. They’ll contend with the Patriots, who likely won’t replicate the success they found last year with their average-at-best team, the New York Jets, who haven’t been good since before Mark Sanchez became the most GIF’ed player in the NFL (butt fumble, anyone?), and the Miami Dolphins, who yes got Tyreek Hill, but still have to worry about a quarterback who may or may not be able to find the arm strength to throw to his new downfield threat.
I don’t mean to be so negative to the AFC East, but the reality is what it is. The Bills have a tough start to their season but looking at the teams they face down the stretch there is no reason to think this team won’t win 13 or even 14 games this year. They’ll feast on the East, and likely should go undefeated across that eight-game stretch.
The question that remains is will it be enough for the Bills to finally win a Super Bowl. You’ll have to watch and find out. But in the meantime, you can check out our AFC East predictions and picks as part of this preview for the division below.
Buffalo Bills (+550 to win Super Bowl, +275 to win AFC, -250 to win AFC East)
Had a coin toss gone the other way last January, we may have been talking about Super Bowl Champion Buffalo Bills, but such wasn’t the case. The NFL did change their overtime rules following that Bills/Kansas City Chiefs championship game, so something good came out of the latest Buffalo heartbreak. If there hadn’t been enough motivation for the team before, that loss surely pushed things into an extra gear. The Bills are bound and ready to win a Super Bowl and they are ready to do it now.
Unlike some of the other Super Bowl hopefuls, the Bills really went out and significantly improved an already strong roster. They went and got Von Miller, who is defying age, having recorded 13.5 sacks last season at 33-years-old. His play helped lead the Rams to their SB title and the Bills are hoping for the same. The team also shored up their backfield and secondary through the draft, taking note to fill even the tiniest holes they had. That includes on the coaching staff where despite the loss of Brian Daboll to the New York Giants, Buffalo found his replacement internally promoting Josh Allen’s QB coach to Offensive Coordinator. That means if anything, Allen won’t take a step back but a step forward. For someone who is already one of the league’s elite quarterbacks, that is a scary prospect for opposing defenses.
If I hadn’t made it clear earlier, take the Bills. Although, it’s not worth a wager on the division given the short odds with our recommended list of offshore sportsbooks. You’ll make your money taking Buffalo to win the Super Bowl.
Miami Dolphins (+4000 Super Bowl, +2000 AFC, +500 AFC East)
Perhaps no one made a bigger, splashier offseason move than the Miami Dolphins when they traded a bunch of draft picks to secure the services of Tyreek Hill, one of the NFL’s best wide receivers over the last five years.
Hill had spent his entire career previously in Kansas City, helping lead the team to Super Bowl appearances and a title as well. Now, in Miami he’s probably not going to do that, at least not anytime soon. But at the very least his presence with the Dolphins had to play into some of the counter moves the Bills and to a lesser degree, New England Patriots made in the offseason.
The million-dollar question still, is will it matter? The biggest question for the Dolphins is still when it comes to their starting quarterback with not everyone convinced former top pick Tua Tagovailoa can be that guy. Never has Tua had the weapons he will this year with Hill and Jaylen Waddle, whose stock has been quickly rising.
The Dolphins also shored up their offensive line, clearly giving Tua the best chance to find success in his fourth year. Miami certainly has a chance to be good this year, but a lot of that rests on if Tua can live up to his draft potential from a few years ago. So far, that has not been the case.
New England Patriots (+5000 Super Bowl, +2200 AFC, +500 AFC East)
If it were any other year, I’d say don’t count out New England because I’m a firm believer that you can never fully count out Bill Belichick. Last year was a prime example. The Patriots lost the division by just one game over a Bills team that was supposed to be significantly better.
This year, the Patriots are taking a step forward though, but so too did the Bills, Dolphins, and even annual punching bag, New York Jets. That’s not to say New England won’t be good however, as there is reason to believe they’ll contend with the Dolphins for a wildcard spot.
Much like the Dolphins, a lot of the Patriots’ hopes this season ride on the next step of their own QB, Mac Jones. In some ways, Jones has already exceeded expectations as despite being a later find (5th QB taken), he is looking like the best QB from the 2021 draft. Next incarnation of Tom Brady, he is not, but Belichick is an exceptional coach who can mold players and build winners. It would be surprising to see Jones regress, even without Josh McDaniels at offensive coordinator.
Much like the Dolphins however, the Patriots are committed to Jones’ evolution. Last year’s 15th-ranked passer now has a better offensive line to play behind and better receivers including former Dolphin Devante Parker. Other than that, New England has a solid defense, strong special teams, and offense that could surprise people. If they play the Bills they did in the regular season last year, it could cause some headaches for this division. I don’t think they are good enough to reclaim the AFC East crown, but it wouldn’t be shocking if they made the playoffs in a tough AFC. Belichick is that good.
New York Jets (+12500 Super Bowl, +7500 AFC, +2800 AFC East)
If you could say one positive thing about the Jets heading into the 2022-23 season it’s this: at least they likely won’t be in the conversation for the first overall pick this season.
Other than that, there’s not much else to look forward to. The Jets actually had a pretty good offseason by all accounts, but they were already so far behind the pack that even those plus-moves likely won’t have much of an impact for a few more years. New York is rebuilding, largely through the draft, and will emerge in a few years with a strong, youthful core that could start turning heads the way the Bengals have started to do after their years-long stay in mediocrity. But 2022 is still going to be an uphill battle with some growing pains for this young team. The Jets should win more than last year’s four games but don’t expect much else from New York.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.