If there’s one division winner you can pencil in this year, it’s the New England Patriots triumphing over their three AFC East rivals: the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.
New England has won nine consecutive division titles and still has the two future Hall of Famers that have spurred on the Pats’ dynasty: head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
This division hasn’t just been about the Patriots’ dominance as of late. The other squads have also just been bad — Miami, Buffalo and New York have combined for zero 11-win seasons since 2011, a span that has seen New England secure at least 11 wins in every season.
All signs point to more New England dominance this year, but let’s still preview the AFC East and see what the betting from the oddsmakers for U.S. players looks like for each squad. We will then give our thoughts regarding betting predictions and see if any picks are possible.
New England Patriots (2017 record: 13-3, No. 1 in AFC East, Lost in Super Bowl)
The Patriots’ sights are set on a Super Bowl, not a 10th straight AFC East division title. But in a weak division like this, New England shouldn’t have too much trouble outshining its competition.
The squad brings back the ageless Tom Brady, who is still the game’s best quarterback at 40 years young. He hasn’t missed a game to injury in 10 seasons. Head coach Bill Belichick is a genius and tight end Rob Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare. The team also brings back a decent enough defense and the anger boiling over from a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in February.
There are changes for this year that could ultimately make the Patriots a slightly weaker team. New England lost cornerback Malcolm Butler, running back Dion Lewis, left tackle Nate Solder and receivers Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks. The Patriots’ running game should be fine with Jeremy Hill and first-round draft choice Sony Michel joining, but Brady’s help in the passing game is a bit diminished.
Even still, a weak division and the team’s cornerstones at the top of the roster and on the sidelines will keep the Pats elite.
- Record Prediction: 12-4
- Best Odds To Win AFC East: -670 at 5Dimes
Miami Dolphins (2017 record: 6-10, No. 3 in AFC East)
The biggest “addition” of the offseason for the Dolphins was getting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back from a knee injury. Tannehill has missed 20 straight games for his team, but he’s a solid quarterback when healthy and a step up from last year’s starter (Jay Cutler).
Outside of that, the Dolphins didn’t have a great offseason. They lost receiver Jarvis Landry and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, arguably the best player on each side of the football for Miami last season. The reinforcements the team added to make up for its lost players don’t quite make up for the value lost from the roster.
A big concern for this squad is depth at quarterback. Brock Osweiler is likely the top backup, and we have all seen how ineffective he has been as a starter in his career.
Overall, strengths in the defensive line and secondary will help this team out. But they aren’t necessarily dominant units, and the Fins aren’t great in many other areas.
- Record Prediction: 6-10
- Best Odds: +1350 with 5Dimes
Buffalo Bills (2017 record: 9-7, No. 2 in AFC East, Lost in AFC Wild Card Round)
The Bills finally ended their 18-year playoff drought in 2017, but how good were they? Buffalo ranked just 21st in the NFL in point differential (minus-57) and struggled mightily with consistency.
In four games against the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Chargers and Patriots, Buffalo allowed an average of 43 points per contest. In the other 13 contests, they allowed a measly 15.2 points per game, which would’ve ranked No. 1 in the NFL over the full season. The defense had decent numbers overall, but it could have been much better.
The Bills also relied heavily on running back LeSean McCoy for offense. Right now, McCoy is being accused of domestic assault, and his status for 2018 is in flux.
Buffalo will be dealing with a bunch of player turnover on both sides of the ball and won’t have the requisite stability to return to the playoffs or win the AFC East in 2018.
- Record Prediction: 6-10
- Best Odds: +1350 with 5Dimes
New York Jets (2017 record: 5-11, No. 4 in AFC North)
The Jets, like the Bills, brought in a bunch of new faces this offseason. For a team that went 5-11 last season, though, it is more of a positive for New York.
New York’s offense will continue to struggle without a stud passer, runner or receiver. Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater and rookie first-round pick Sam Darnold will compete for the quarterback spot, but none of them will likely be above-average starters this year.
The Jets do have a respectable defense that will be boosted by the addition of No. 1 cornerback Trumaine Jackson. However, New York needs to reach its potential as a pass-rushing unit to make its secondary truly click.
- Record prediction: 6-10
- Best odds: +1625 with 5Dimes
Our Preview’s AFC East Final Picks & Betting Predictions
The Pats have awfully short odds to win the division, but they are still the best play here. None of the other squads in this division appear to be in win-now mode given their roster makeup, which makes sense considering that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are still ruling this division.
If you do want to hedge your New England bet here, I would recommend putting some money on the Jets and their very long odds. They do have some quality talent competing for that quarterback job, and as the division’s weakest team the last two seasons, they could sneak up on some opponents that don’t take them seriously. However given the way the betting is, it may be best to keep your money in your pocket, watch the AFC East and enjoy.