Odds to Win
There was some buzz this past offseason that the Patriots run of dominaNCe was coming to an end, but there’s no reason to believe that entering the 2018 season. Their odds are bit lower to win the AFC East than a season ago, yet there isn’t one team that stands out as a real challenger in the division.
Odds to win AFC East
courtesy of 5dimes (mid August)
New England Patriots -650 (field wins +500)
Miami Dolphins +1350
Buffalo Bills +1550
New York Jets +1675
There’s little reason to bet against the New England Patriots (over/under 11.5) this year unless you think the fall of Tom Brady is imminent. The only major differeNCe for the offense is that tackle Nate Solder is gone from the line, but that’s something Bill Belichick should figure out early with a younger Trent Brown moving in. Rookie Sony Michel joins a crowded backfield in place of Dion Lewis, while Brady still has enough guys to throw to, whether that’s Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman and Chris HoGAn. Under Brady, the offense will be fine. The defense can’t get much worse than last season when it finished 31st in Football OUtsiders’ DVOA metric. Adding some rookies to go with end Adrian Clayborn and corner Jason McCOurty, and there’s at least reason to believe in improvement. And even if the defense is bad again, will it matter?
The Miami Dolphins (over/under 6.5) are next in line in the division and their over/under says it all. Ryan Tannehill is back under center, but his health is a major question and if he can’t play 16 Games, that could mean more NFL appearaNCes for Brock Osweiler. It’s hard to see the offense improving much unless Adam GAse has some tricks under his sleeve. Frank Gore doesn’t change much in the running Game behind Kenyan Drake, while replacing Jarvis LAndry with oft-injured Danny Amendola is a downgrade. Defensively, the Dolphins replaced NDamukong Suh with Robert Quinn and William Hayes and that doesn’t scream improvement, either. The secondary could be better, but that’s not adding multiple wins.
Next up are the Buffalo Bills (over/under 5.5) and their outlook is based upon a new quarterback. Whether it’s AJ McCarron or Josh Allen, that doesn’t matter much. LeSean McCoy is still everything for the offense, which could be problematic as there’s a possible suspension looming over his head to go with entering the season at 30 years old. Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones could be a nice duo in the receiving Game, but without an elite quarterback, that’s not a huge deal. To have a shot at the Patriots, the defense needs to jump another level after being ranked 15th in DVOA. They added a multitude of players: tackle Star Lotulelei, rookie linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, corner Vontae Davis and safety Rafael Bush. If Sean McDermott can get the defense going, the Bills should have the best shot at second in the division.
Unlike last year, the New York Jets (over/under 6) aren’t far behind. Josh McCown surprisingly proved capable at quarterback last season and Sam Darnold will likely take over at some point. There isn’t much receiving talent outside of Robby Anderson unless Terrelle Pryor gets motivated again, while Isaiah Crowell becomes the top running back with Matt Forte gone. The Jets also added a bevy of options to help the offensive line. They added numerous defensive options led by linebacker Avery Williamson and cornerback Trumaine Johnson so the pieces are there for overall improvement. There’s reason to believe this team will be better, but again, winning the AFC East isn’t in the cards.
The smartest bet is to take the Patriots and move on. Every team in the division could improve and they’d still win by a couple Games, as it’s hard to see anyone outside of New England surpassing eight wins. And reaching eight wins would probably be a good thing for every one of those teams.