The AFC East is the land of the New England Patriots, and that should stay the same as long as quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick remain in Foxboro.
The Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets are facing a major uphill to win the division in 2017, though there’s always a chance of an upset.
Let’s break down each of the teams’ situations, predict their records, give their best odds from the top online betting sites for USA residents and then present some final betting predictions advice on the AFC East.
New England Patriots (2016 record: 14-2, No. 1 in AFC East, Super Bowl Champions)
The Patriots are easily the biggest lock to win their division in the NFL this season. New England has won eight consecutive and 13 of the last 14 division titles.t would likely be 14 straight division titles if Tom Brady hadn’t injured his knee in the first game of the 2008 season.
As such, you’ll have to put down a bunch of money on the Patriots to get anything of significance back. It may actually be worth it, though, since no other team in the division seems anywhere near elite.
New England not only has the best coach in the game, it easily has the most talent on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in the division.
- Record Prediction: 13-3
- Best Odds: -700 at MyBookie
Miami Dolphins (2016 record: 10-6, No. 2 in AFC East, Lost in AFC Wild-Card Round)
The Dolphins’ slight chances at winning the division got a bit more complicated now that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has a left knee injury and may be out for the year. The team is still deciding whether to pursue surgery or not, so there’s still a chance the 29-year-old returns to the field this season.
Tannehill is an average starting quarterback, but it will hard for the squad to replicate his production and chemistry with teammates if he can’t play. For now, backup Matt Moore will step in — Moore has played solid football for stretches throughout his career, but he may not be the type of guy who can do a bang-up job stepping in for an entire season.
Running back Jay Ajayi exploded for 1,272 rushing yards and eight touchdowns last year in his second season. He could be relied on even more this season but is he ready for that pressure?
The defense should be a bit better than last year’s 29th-ranked unit with better health and some new additions, but “a bit better” isn’t enough to surmount the Patriots. Plus, despite the Dolphins’ solid record last year, they were outscored by 17 points during the regular season. There could be some regression to the mean for them in 2017.
- Record Prediction: 8-8
- Best Odds: +1100 at 5Dimes
Buffalo Bills (2016 record: 7-9, No. 3 in AFC East)
Buffalo fired Rex Ryan after two middling seasons with the team. Will the move work out? New head coach Sean McDermott is defensive-minded and will attempt to help this talented, but inconsistent squad put everything together.
The Bills have a decent offense, led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy, but its receiving corps is quite lackluster. Fourth-year pro Sammy Watkins needs to fully realize his potential on the outside.
On defense, Buffalo should be a bit better stopping the run this defense, but the pass defense looks like it could be one of the worst in the league.
The Bills’ strengths aren’t strong enough and their weaknesses are too weak to truly challenge the Patriots for a division title.
- Record Prediction: 8-8
- Best Odds: +1600 at 5Dimes
New York Jets (2016 record: 5-11, No. 4 in AFC East)
New York is the undisputed worst team in the division and it might also be the worst team in the NFL. The Jets lost a bunch of key veteran talents in the offseason and will now depend heavily on its youngsters. Some of those youngsters have proven to be good players in the NFL, such as defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams — most of them have not, however.
The Jets are still weak at the most important position in football: quarterback. At the moment, the squad doesn’t know if Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty will be the signal-caller in Week 1 at Buffalo.
If you have some cash to blow, sure, bet on the Jets and hope for some miracle. Otherwise, stay away.
- Record Prediction: 2-14
- Best Odds: +10000 at 5Dimes
AFC East Final Predictions & Verdict
Betting on either the Patriots or Bills seems like the smartest move, depending on if you’re more of a safe bettor (Pats) or a risk taker (Bills).
Picking New England obviously won’t get you much money, but the squad is almost a guarantee to win the division. However, injuries can change things, and if New England suffers a bunch of those to key players (especially Tom Brady), Buffalo seems like the team with the highest upside of the remaining three AFC East teams.
The Bills could have a really dynamic quarterback/running back/receiver combination of Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, and there’s a chance that new head coach Sean McDermott turns the defense around. They would be our optimistic pick at that +1600 with 5Dimes.