So, this shouldn’t take too long. It has the best team in the league and the worst team in the league, and two who will be in the middle until Brady and Bellichek retire, or die, whatever happens first.
The New England Patriots (1/5 for division) are going to win the division at a canter, and I think they’ll probably win the Superbowl again (I’m on them at 9/2, they started the offseason at 6/1). I just don’t see how anyone is going to stop them. They have the best coach around, the best QB of all time (the BOAT?!…) and somehow they managed to strengthen their squad even more in the off season. I’m sure no-one really needs reminding of their Superbowl run this year, well most of that was done without the leagues best TE. As said in the AFC North preview, they easily beat the Steelers who are my second faves for the AFC this year, and that’s what they generally do. They’re around 5-6 points better than most teams at home, and somehow always beat the handicap on bets despite being one of the biggest favourites week in, week out. The moves they made in the off season lead you to think they’re REALLY going for it this year, they gave up their first pick in the draft to get Brandin Cooks from the Saints, they robbed Stefon Gilmore from the Bills, and followed that up by stealing Iron Mike Gillislee, the TD machine from them as well. They added even more to the RB room by picking up Rex Burkhead from the Bengals. All great signings of players un-wanted by their old teams. Burkhead looked a great runner when he got the chance, Gillislee had some of the highest YPC in the league last season, 5.7yds off the top of my head (?) Gilmore is a good cornerback, and they paid him very well so obviously rate him. Brandin Cooks adds some genuine pace to open up the field even more! They basically have a look for any and every gamescript and BB is the man who will plan for that. They also picked up Dwayne Allen as the backup/starting TE (because Gronk will probably only play 3 games…) to replace Marty B who went to the packers. It will be interesting to see what happens with Deon Lewis with so many options at RB, he could be the odd man out, he’s not on much guaranteed money so wouldn’t be too hard to cut despite the fact they haven’t lost a game that he’s played in. I really like Malcolm Mitchell to kick on this year, he earnt me some good money at the back end of last season and I don’t see why he won’t be even better this year for them. There’s really not a whole lot to say about them that hasn’t been said before, I mean not even a Brady injury will stop them, they way they seem to rate Jimmy G, they seem to think he’ll be the QB for the next 10 years. I’ve got them at 13 wins, and that’s probably a little pessimistic! (away games to Denver and Oakland after their bye week) They open as 7.5 point favourites at home to the Chiefs. That’s probably the closest they’ll be all season at home!
Next up I’ve got the Miami Dolphins (8/1 for the division) – Somehow I’ve got them at 10 wins. They’ve got a really tough schedule on paper this year, as do all of this division, playing the AFC West and the NFC South. There’s not an easy game between those two divisions. They host the Titans and travel to the Ravens. I would be surprised if they reach the line I’ve got them at now I look at it again. It’s a shame i’m now feeling down on them! They had a good season last year with Adam Gase as head coach, he seems to have figured the best way to make Ryan Tannenhill better is to give him less to do. They did that in the end by relying on LONDON BORN Jay Ajayi to run the ball as much as possible. He had a very random season, 3*200 yard games, 2 against the Bills and one vs the Steelers. I’m sure I heard he got 25% of his fantasy points from just 7 runs last year. He basically missed the first 4 games of the season, and still ended the year with 1,272 yards, at nearly 5 a go with 8 TDs, Damien Williams annoyingly stole a few redzone scores from him. The change of tactic from the Dolphins worked well, and they bashed out a few wins they previously wouldn’t have done. It did however mean the Jarvis Landry didn’t have the best of seasons, and I can see his targets reducing further this year as the lean more on the run game. They re-signed Kenny Stills who had the best year of his career as a downfield threat, averaging a phenomenal 17.3 yards per catch. DeVante Parker has had some rave reviews over the summer (along with most other dolphins players) and he has the talent to be a top WR in this league, so far though injuries have hampered him most seasons, if he can stay fit, he could be a very good player in this league, it remains to be seen though. The best games Ajayi had last year were when the O-Line was fit. This year probably sees Laremy Tunsil move over to Left tackle where he played in college, I have no issues with that, he’s a cracking player and will be fine there. If they can keep their line fit (unlike last year) then Ajayi could hit, maybe, possibly…. 1,500 yards?! Ndamukong Suh is as disruptive as ever in the middle of the defensive line. They picked up linebacker Lawrence Timmons from the Steelers for a season, he can definitely do a job there for a season, Kiko Alonso ain’t bad either, and in fairness their cornerback group is improving. So who knows…
So, seeing as the Jets are going to struggle to win 2 games this year, I have the Buffalo Bills finishing third (14/1 to win it) I can never get myself excited about the Bills. It may be my dislike of Rex Ryan shading my opinion on the team, and seeing as he’s now gone. I should put that behind me. So… clean slate… Tyrod Taylor at QB. He’s average. He’s a very mobile QB with a strong arm, actually threw for 3,000 yards last season, which given that he had no-one to throw to is pretty impressive! Robert Woods was probably his most reliable receiver, and he’s now gone to the Rams. Lucky him. If… and it’s a very big if… Sammy Watkins can somehow stay healthy then who knows how this offence will look, he was a first round draft pick and people love him, and he’s now had a second surgery on the foot injury that has been affecting him for two years, so we’ll see what happens there. Other than that, the second choice in the passing is rookie Zay Jones. He was pretty highly rated coming out of college, but pass catchers in general struggle in their rookie year. Most of this doesn’t really matter. The game plan for the Bills will be running the ball. Lesean McCoy is getting on a bit, but he’s probably a top 5 RB in the league still, he finished with 1,267 yards, and 13 TDs at a 5.4 average. Add to that the 8 TDs the Gillislee vultured from him and you can project an even bigger season for him. My worry for him would be that they signed full backs Mike Tolbert and Paddy DiMarco in free agency. This could mean McCoy is even better with some blockers in front of him, or they could be used as goal line backs. Add to that Jonathon Williams isn’t awful at his job either, and there could be more vulturing of TDs from Shady. I don’t think they’re hugely solid on defence, but running the ball means less time on the field for that side of the team so it doesn’t matter AS much. Richie Incognito deserves a mention just because of his name really.
So propping up the division, and probably the entire league next season will be the NY Jets (100/1 on Marathon bet to win the div) They are actively looking to lose this year. They’ve released pretty much all their veteran players and are relying on Josh McCown to help Christian Hackenberg come through as the “future” QB… well at least until they take their next QB with the #1 pick next year if all goes to plan for them #Scamforsam etc… Mangold, Clady, Revis, Harris, Decker, Marshall all released by the team as they “concentrate on youth” As with the Partiots, there’s really not a lot to say for this team next season. They don’t want to win, and probably won’t. I’ve optimistically got them at 2 shock wins for the season. They’re set at 4.5 on the lines at the moment and odds on to go under that, I believe that no team is ever set at 4, so that’s literally the lowest you’ll get on them. I managed to get on at under 5.5. A player possibly worth looking at is Quincy Enunwa who had a good season as the no.2 in the passing game behind B Marshall last year, he will be the main WR in the team next year seeing as there’s no-one else there. Perhaps even more worryingly for everyone involved in the Jets… Austin Sefarius Jenkins has been getting a lot of hype as a possible target for the team next year. He’s been in rehab, dropped 2 stone and looked great in OTAs, they also drafted Jordan Leggett from an historically good TE class this year. It will probably be a big change in mantra for the team seeing as in 2015 and 16 COMBINED, their tight ends recorded the grand total of 26 receptions… Might be worth keeping an eye on Robby Anderson if he’s not suspended following a run-in with Jonny Law over the summer. He was a favourite target of backup QBs last year and didn’t do that bad a job all things considered.
And that’s about 20 lines too much to write on the Jets.
Pats will win the division, get homefield advantage and get to the Superbowl. Jets will get the #1 overall pick next year, take a QB and still be awful.