to win AFC East
Picks and Preview
ONCe again, the Patriots won the AFC East in 2014, their sixth-straight division title and 11th in the past 12 seasons. That number keeps getting more ridiculous by the year, but 2015 might be the best chance that the other teams have had in a while. With Tom Brady out for the first Four Games of the year, the Patriots’ odds are only -165, which is small for them.
Odds to win AFC East
New England Patriots -165 (field wins +140)
Miami Dolphins +335
Buffalo Bills +485
New York Jets +1200
What’s not to like about the Super Bowl champions, having won at least 12 Games in five-straight seasons? Well, Jimmy GAroppolo starting at quarterback for the first Four Games of the year could be a problem for the New England Patriots. Those Four Games are vs. Pittsburgh, at Buffalo, vs. Jacksonville and at Dallas. That could result in two or three losses right off the bat if GAroppolo is less than average. Then again, these are the Super Bowl champions and they are led by Bill Belichick. Tom Brady will likely come out gunning as soon as he returns and there’s no reason the offense will take a step back from last year. The loss of Shane Vereen will hurt, but they have capable guys in his spot. The defense is mostly the same outside of a couple players gone in the secondary, most notably Darrelle Revis. Obviously, that’s a tough loss, but mainstays are still there like Devin McCOurty, Chandler Jones and Jerod Mayo, as long as they can all stay healthy. The Patriots still have the all-around best team in the division, so they remain the favorite even with GAroppolo for Four Games.
It looked like the Miami Dolphins had a shot last year, but never really lived up to expectations after beating the Patriots in Week 1. With all of their chips in the pile this season, playoffs at the least are to be expected from the Dolphins. Their defensive line has a chance to be dominant with NDamukong Suh now roaming the middle, but there are questions at linebacker as well as a couple spots in the secondary. To take the next step, this defense has to improve, and the recent loss of Louis Delmas does not help that. Ryan Tannehill also has enough options at his disposal for the Fins to hit the 400-point mark this season. LAmar Miller can be a stud at running back, and they added Jordan Cameron, Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and DeVante Parker in the offseason to already go with Jarvis LAndry. The only issue on offense is a weak offensive line that wasn’t really addressed. If both sides of the ball can take a step, sure, the Dolphins have a chance, but expecting something like that to happen is never a good thing to bet on.
Next up are the Buffalo Bills where the odds get really interesting. The Bills look like huge favorites compared to the New York Jets, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Neither team knows who their starting quarterback is going to be week-in-week-out and neither has an advantage in that department. The battle looks to be between Matt Cassel and Tyrod Taylor for the Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick has the job now for the Jets until Geno Smith is healthy again. Even with LeSean McCoy, the Bills don’t have a huge advantage in the ground Game because their offensive line is a level below what the Jets will put on the field and Chris Ivory leads a list of serviceable running backs for the Jets. The teams are probably equal in the receiving department with the Jets having Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Devin Smith and the Bills sporting Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Percy Harvin. Those guys shouldn’t have a huge affect though unless a QB can get them the ball. On the defensive end, the Bills had the better unit a year ago, but with Todd Bowles now leading the Jets to go with a few new faces, the differeNCes between these groups shouldn’t be huge. The Bills have a better pass rush, but Bowles loves to blitz and his teams usually get to the QB no matter who suits up. The Bills have mostly the same guys as a year ago when they were a top defense, although Leodis McKelvin is still hurt. The Jets added Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, which is a huge boost from last year and they still have one of the best front seven’s in the league, with Leonard Williams and Kevin Vickerson adding some depth to the line.
That said, the Bills and Jets should not have such differing odds to win the AFC East. It seems like a mistake to bet on the Bills to win this division, while the Jets can be a good value pick. But if you don’t like the Patriots, the best way to go could be to take the field at +140. If GAroppolo struggles in those early Games, anything could happen in this division.