Odds and Picks
It’s always fun to look back at preseason odds from the previous season and compare to what actually happened. Last year, the Patriots surprisingly weren’t huge favorites in the late summer (-220), while the Jets had the third-best odds to win the AFC East (+610). One season has changed a lot as the Patriots are huge favorites to win the division again, which would be their ninth straight and 14 of the past 15.
Odds to win AFC East
courtesy of 5dimes (early August)
New England Patriots -840 (field wins +570)
Miami Dolphins +900
Buffalo Bills +1600
New York Jets +12500
The New England Patriots (over/under 12.5) are the class of the division and that’s not going to change in 2017. Tom Brady is here for the full season and he has a couple new weapons to help out from Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen in the receiving Game to a fresh, new running back in Mike Gillislee. There aren’t many that believe the Patriots won’t win the AFC with +180 odds to do so and only +375 to win the Super Bowl. The offense also returns Rob Gronkowski to the mix, who was hurt for New England’s run to the title last season. Their offensive line should be just as good with the same being said for the defense as a whole. Stephon Gilmore was added to the secondary, while David Harris should add experieNCe at linebacker. Up front, Kony Ealy should be a great addition to a continually underrated group. The Patriots were the best team in the league last year… and they got better.
As for the rest, the Miami Dolphins (over/under 7.5) are considered the biggest challenger to the Patriots, but still are a long way off. Ryan Tannehill injured his knee in the preseason and Jay Cutler was brought in to help out. Year two with Adam GAse should show some improvements no matter who starts at quarterback, Matt Moore iNCluded. The hope is that DeVante Parker becomes a true No. 1 wide receiver for the team as the wide out has been plagued by injuries for most of his early career. Still, the Dolphins will lean heavily on Jay Ajayi and the running Game after he went for 200-plus yards a couple times last year. There’s also hope that Julius Thomas can be a beast in the red zone, something this team has lacked, partly due to slot WR Jarvis LAndry being the top guy. Defensively, the Dolphins have the pieces, yet have yet to show consisteNCy or become an elite group. LAwreNCe Timmons should help some, but defensive back remains an issue.
The Buffalo Bills (over/under 6.5) would like to challenge for the division, but Sean McDermott has a big hill to climb in his first season as head coach. The offense has poteNCy with Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, but injuries are almost a guarantee for at least one of them. Watkins has missed 11 Games in the past two years and the team is still without a great option behind him. McDermott’s main goal will be to get the defense back into the top 10 of the league and it’s definitely possible. The key will be for guys like DE Shaq LAwson to show improvement in his second year and Micah Hyde to fill a key role at safety. The Bills could fight for the playoffs, but only if everyone stays healthy.
The long shot remains the New York Jets (over/under 4) and no one believes they will have a chance at the postseason. Quarterback is still a toss-up with Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty all likely seeing time this year. It doesn’t help that they lost their top two receivers with Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall gone. Matt Forte and Bilal Powell can be a good puNCh in the backfield, but that can only get you so far. While the defense has tools to work with, Todd Bowles’s opportunistic approach hasn’t paid dividends yet, mainly because this team is usually playing from behind.
There aren’t many good ways to bet the AFC East because the Patriots have such high odds of winning it. Betting on the Dolphins or Bills could be fun, but the hopes of that working out could be gone halfway through the season.