The AFC North preview went up last week as the first of my, probably utterly wrong predictions.
So we move on to the AFC East
Today’s is a little easier.
#1 – New England Patriots – Last year 13-3, SB Odds – 6/1 (Skybet), Division odds – 1/4 (Redzonesports), o/u – 11, or 11.5
I’m not going to go out on a limb here, the Patriots should do what they do every year and get through this division at a canter. I’ve got them down for 12 wins.
But there are slight doubts in my mind over them this year, Brady is 41, still looks great, but if he goes down they’re left with Brian Hoyer, not dreadful, but not a good position to be in! They lost their Left tackle in free agency and lost their first round draft pick Isiaih Wynn for the season to a ruptured Achilles. They aren’t exactly blessed in the receiving corps either with Julian Edelman (Bradys favourite target) suspended for 4 games, Malcolm Mitchell and Jordan Matthews released. That leaves them with Cordarelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berios, Kenny Britt, the recently signed Eric Decker. Oh and Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski. In honesty, it’s not a great sign for them, but if anyone can figure it out it’s Bill and the Patriots. It helps having the best QB of all time and probably the best TE of all time to throw the ball to. If Gronk stays fit he may well be the receiving leader for this team. The Running game is a little up in the air as well, their other first round pick was Sony Michel who has a bit of a fumbling issue and is currently out with a knee issue, Rex Burkhead has a “slight tear” in his knee which apparently won’t need surgery but doesn’t sound great. There’s a battle for the 3rd RB between Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee which at the moment it looks like Hill is winning, he could have some value as their short yardage guy. If everyone was fit it was looking like Rex would have been their main threat and he was someone I was picking up in a lot of fantasy leagues, so hopefully he’s good to go come the start of the season
This is all rather negative on the team that made the Superbowl last year. The thing is the rest of the division isn’t exactly poised to make a challenge, so I can’t see past them winning it. Although I may well downgrade them from the 12 wins I’ve got them at.
Also. I’ve learnt quickly that you doubt the Patriots at your peril. They still go and beat the spread in 75% of their games most seasons!
#2 – Miami Dolphins, Last year – 6-10, SB Odds – 150/1 (Betfred), Division odds – 18/1 (Skybet), o/u – 5.5 or 6.5
So, the rest of the teams will more than likely be fighting it out for second place in the division.
I think (?) that I think it will be the Dolphins. Ryan Tannenhill is back and I don’t think he’s terrible. They have a few options in the run game, Kenyan Drake ended up being the main guy there at the end of last season and did a pretty good job so it seems weird to me that they picked up Frank Gore in free agency. He’ll undoubtedly end up with 700+ yards, I assume they don’t trust Drake with a full workload and wanted to be able to spell him at points. They also drafted Kalen Ballage who doesn’t have great stats coming out of college, but looks like he could do a job as a north-south runner. They lost their main man in the receiving game to Cleveland which on paper seems like a bad thing, but he was reportedly not exactly liked in that dressing room. It’s still not a good idea to lose someone who gets 100+ catches per year but they obviously thought it was time to move on. To replace him they brought in Danny Amendola from New England and Albert Wilson from the Chiefs. At different points of the off season each of them has been the hype guy. They’ve been talking about playing Wilson outside despite the fact he’s never really done that. For what it’s worth I’m leaning towards it being Amendola in the slot and getting a lot of receptions this year. Devante Parker is still there, suffering a finger injury at the moment but for years he’s been touted for a breakout without doing it, so it’s safe to say I’m out on him. I need to mention Kenny Stills though, he had a good season last year and adds that big play threat to the team, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone wanting to take him in fantasy at his value and he’s a name I’ll be looking for depending on match up. Tight end is interesting here, they drafted Mike Gesicki who seems incapable of being able to block anyone, but is electric in the passing game so logically it seems like they’d play a lot of two tight end sets with maybe AJ Derby taking the other slot blocking. I can see Gesicki scoring quite a few TDs this year. On defense there’s been a ton of hype around Xavien Howard having a breakout season at cornerback, so I’ll be keeping an eye on how that develops, but they lost Ndomukong Suh to the Rams which is literally a big loss to their defensive line that they’ll have to work to fill.
Honestly. I have no idea at all how they’ll do this year, I had them down for 5 wins. I have risen on them since then, but equally wouldn’t be too shocked if they finished around there.
#3 New York Jets, Last year – 5-11, Superbowl odds – 200/1 (Skybet), Division odds – 14/1 (most), o/u – 5.5 to 6.5
The Jets are interesting this year. They succeeded in “Scam for Sam” last year and took Sam Darnold at 3 in the draft. He’s the youngest QB in the league so has plenty of time to improve so it will be interesting to see whether he gets any games this season. The pre-season has gone very well for him, but the Jets did the same last year, left McCown out all pre-season games and he promptly started the season at #1. In fairness everyone else there was shit. This year is far different, Teddy Bridgewater looks recovered from the hideous injury that threatened to end his career, he and Darnolds progress so far mean the Jets have 3 viable QBs to start the year. Running back isn’t great for them though, it seemed like they were leaning towards Isiaih Crowell and Elijah McGuire but Mcguire out for a few weeks, Thomas Rawls is on the roster bubble, and Bilal Powell apparently was too before that injury. Crowell should do an adequate job for them but will need decent gamescript. The receivers are a bit of a mixture as well, Quincy Enunwa is back from his neck injury, Robby Anderson could be facing some disciplinary issues, Terrelle Pryor doesn’t seem to be liked and is seemingly always injured, Jermaine Kearse could turn out to be a decent guy there. Anderson will be the main guy there, he probably won’t get suspended, if he goes then it looks like it’ll only be 2 games. He’s a speedster who can score from anywhere on the field. They seem to like Chris Herndon and apparently my cousin Clive Walford seems like he’s making a shout for a spot. They do have a decent defence after drafting Jamal Adams to captain them last year, and I think Todd Bowles is actually a mildly decent coach. They’re a tough one for me to call, I had them on 3 wins. I think I’ll be wrong there.
#4 Bufallo Bills, Last year – 9-7, Superbowl Odds – 150/1, Division odds – 16/1 (Fred), o/u – 5.5 to 6.5
It seems silly to call a playoff team from last year the worst team in football this year, but it could well happen. They gave away their ultra-safe, non-interception throwing QB to the Browns and brought in AJ McCarron, someone who couldn’t beat out Andy Dalton for the starting job in Cincinnati. I don’t think he’s terrible but he’s a definite downgrade on Tyrod. He’s challenging with Nathan “5 INTs in a half” Peterman and no.11 draft pick Josh Allen for the starting spot. Allen was an interesting pick, he’s got a huge arm as he’s shown in pre-season, but he’s not accurate and couldn’t do it against the best teams in college, his career accuracy is around 55% which is not good. Whoever wins the job will be behind an offensive line which lost 3 of it’s 5 starters as well. At running back, and frankly, 75% of their offense should be LeSean McCoy. BUT He’s got some potential legal issues bubbling away in the background. If he plays he will probably get 350+ touches this season, another down point for him is that he turns 30, that’s usually the time RBs fall off a little. If he can’t go they’ve got Chris Ivory backing him up. The receivers aren’t much to shout about either, Kelvin Benjamin is a big body, Zay Jones can’t catch, they brought in Corey Coleman from the Browns who couldn’t wait to get rid of him, he’s talented but hasn’t shown it much in Cleveland. Inexperienced QBs tend to like their Tight ends and Charles Clay and Nick O’Leary are decent enough there in the passing game. Their defense isn’t awful in fairness, Tre’davious White had great reviews for a lot of last season, but all I remember of him was getting torched by AJ Green in their game vs the Bengals.
I put in a request for the Bills to lose their first 6 games, they’ve got a rough opening schedule so at 6/1 it could be a decent bet. – They play @Baltimore, @Minnesota, @GB, @Houston and host the Chargers and Titans in the first 6. I may be over-harsh on the Bills, but that’s not an easy run for any team to start the season.
- The Bills to lose their first 6 games – 6/1 (RedzoneSports) – 3 points
- Buffalo and Tampa both to finish bottom of their divisions – 3/1 (RedzoneSports) – 3 points
- Bills under 5.5 wins – 10/11 (WilliamHill) – 4 points
- Miami Dolphins to win division – 18/1 (Skybet) – 0.5 point
Obviously the Dolphins one requires the most luck any team has ever had to win the division, but the odds are huge. In fairness if you wanted to take the Jets and Dolphins it might not be the most stupid move ever.
10.5 points staked.