Last year 13-3; First place
The main headline from the Bills off-season work came this week with Josh Allen signing a MEGA 6 year contract worth $258m with $100 fully guaranteed and rolling guarantees which should activate as well. After last seasons performances it’s tough to argue that he didn’t deserve to get a bumper deal as soon as the team could possibly offer him one. with a legitimate #1 WR in the form of Stefon Diggs Allen put up just over 4,500 yards, good for 5th in the league, threw for 37 TDs, good for 5th again, and had the 3rd best QBR of qualifying QBs as well as rushing in 8 TDs during the regular season.
Allen led to the Bills to the AFC Championship game but they couldn’t get past Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The success of last year has them as the 3rd shortest odds for the Superbowl behind the two who contested it last year, so will they live up to the hype now surrounding them?
Honestly, I’m not sure. I think everything went perfectly for them last year, but looking back at their results they dealt with everyone in their path fairly comfortably and would have had 14 wins had it not been for the Hail Murray at the end of their game against the Cardinals. They covered the spread in 10 of 16 games, and had a league-leading 13 half time leads. When they got ahead they rarely eased off and let things slip.
The WR group is strong still, Diggs will lead again, Gabriel Davis had a good rookie season and after replacing John Brown with Emmanuel Sanders should get mixed in again, while Cole Beasley is one of the more vocal voices against the vaccine in the league, which may well cost him games when they come around. They don’t have a proper RB1, but realistically it’s probably still Josh Allen. It looked like Zack Moss had the more prominent role ahead of Devin Singletary last year and I’d expect that to carry on. They like to use the tight end and brought in Jacob Hollister alongside Dawson Knox who should get more of the red zone work.
The defense was good again last year and hasn’t lost much, they still have Tredavious White who many consider one of the best CBs in the league and they looked to strengthen their weakest point on defense in the draft and free agency bringing in 3 edge defenders including Brit Efe Obada which will get them attention from NFLUK.
Overall I don’t think the Bills get to 13 wins again, but I won’t be betting anything on their total this year.
Last year 10-6; Second place
The Dolphins probably felt they were a year or two ahead of schedule in finishing with a double-digit season last year, it’s still a team under construction and given the lack of offensive talent it was a mighty impressive season and a brilliant coaching job from Brian Flores. They look stronger this year, but will having a better roster get them to a better record?
After mugging the Texans for all their draft picks, they went back that way and brought in Benardrick McKinney and Will Fuller to strengthen a couple of positions, alongside some good pickups in the draft, although trading up to grab Jaylen Waddle at #6 seemed a little strange given needs on the OL. Strangely it’s only the Bengals who’ve been slated for not taking Penei Sewell.
So the offensive line still isn’t very good, but Tua Tagovailoa is another year further on from a horrible hip injury which curtailed his final season at ‘Bama and kept him out for the start of last year. I don’t think he was very good last year, but I’m not sure that was all on him. The OL was poor and his weapons were fairly dismal as well so personally I think they kept him to short passes, getting the ball out quick and avoiding getting hit. The speed they’ve added around him this year will prove quickly whether that’s the case or not, although Will Fuller is suspended for the first game of the season.
The two they brought in probably leads the WR corp. Fuller and Waddle may well be the most targeted of the bunch with Devante Parker doing an adequate job there as well. They could probably do with Preston Williams coming back, and there’s been a massive BERT ALERT over the summer with the return of Albert Wilson who’s been getting very good reports in camp. Mike Gesicki should become a very useful weapon and had some decent games at the back end of last season, and my boy Adam Shaheen is always worth a punt at 20/1+
They running back room won’t make any in the league jealous, led by Myles Gaskin according to their depth chart, he can catch and run, but missed half the year with injury last time out leaving Salvon Ahmed to do a similar job in replacement, they brought in Malcolm Brown from the Rams, and drafted SURPRISE MOTHERFUCKER… Gerrid Doaks sitting at the back end of their RB group.
The defense was pretty good as it should be with two of the top 6 highest paid corners in the league, but while they gave up a lot of yards, they tightened when needed and finished 5th in points allowed. There was some very public chat recently between Xavien Howard who kicked off because the deal HE SIGNED 2 YEARS AGO, now isn’t good enough despite being the 6th highest in the league for a corner… the team relented and guaranteed him more money. DESPITE HIM SIGNING THE DEAL AT THE TIME AND BEING HAPPY WITH IT. Obviously after recording 10 (X) interceptions he decided he deserved more.
I find it hard to judge the Dolphins, I personally don’t believe they were good enough for 10 wins last year, but they got there and despite an extra game they’re lined for 9 this year. They open the season at the Patriots, and I think that will tell us a lot about the division and where teams are this season.
New England Patriots
Last year 7-9; Third place
It’s safe to say last year was rough for the multiple Superbowl Champions as they faced their first season in 20 years without Tom Brady. It was always going to be painful and the multiple opt-outs on defense as well as just a horrible roster on the offensive side of the ball which was weakened significantly when Julian Edelman went down injured after just 6 games. That was enough for him and he retired over the summer.
Cam Newton came in at QB and didn’t exactly impress. He rushed in 8 scores in their first 7 games, but the shoulder injury which put people off signing him seemed to rear their head and he struggled through the air throwing for just 8 TDs all season and recording a sub-50 QBR, which is atrocious. They re-signed him so I guess they’re hoping an improved roster will help, but they also brought in Mac Jones in the first round of the draft. I would assume that Jones will get some starts, and he’s landed in the perfect spot under Belichick and Josh McDaniels.
They obviously realised how insanely terrible their roster was last year as they spent by far the most money in free agency of any team in the league, however they’ve not brought in a massive amount of blue-chip talent. The signings of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith at tight end show where they want to go with the ball, they will be without Henry for the first game or two with a shoulder injury, but Jonnu has been one of my fave TEs in recent years, always a good red-zone target and Henry has always promised a lot.
The wide receiver group is better, it honestly couldn’t have been worse than last season, but Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne aren’t players the kids are demanding jerseys of. They will do a job, and Bourne is a very good slot receiver, another to look for in TD betting, but first round pick from last year, N’Keal Harry was reportedly on the trade block and Jacobi Meyers led the team with 729 yards last year. It’s shallow, and it’s still not very good, but an improvement on last year.
Damien Harris will be the main man on the ground for them and will be looking for more than 69 yards per game and 2 TDs from last season, behind him is officially Sony Michel, but he’s usually injured or not great while James White will continue to have a ton of receptions coming out of the backfield.
Despite losing one of the best guards in the league in Joe Thuney the offensive line is still one of the better units and they picked up Trent Brown from the Raiders to bolster that area. Kyle Van Noy returned from a year in Miami and they welcome back a TON of opt-outs from last season with Dont’a Hightower being the main influence on defense while they also paid good money for Matt Judon from the Ravens.
They will be better than last year. They will cause issues for the Bills and the Dolphins, but will they top their line of 9 wins? I don’t think so, but it’s the Patriots and while on paper it looks like 8 wins max, you’ve still got to add the Belichick tax so I’ll be avoiding that as well.
New York Jets
Last year 2-14; Fourth place
Two words that Jets fans will be happy they won’t see this season, or probably ever again other than when comparing eras to “the Adam Gase years” – It’s safe to say they’ve upgraded over the summer with Robert Saleh coming in from a successful time as the DC in San Francisco. That was just the start of the overhaul in NY as they managed to get some draft capital for Sam Darnold who had stagnated and brought in Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the draft.
Wilson comes in to a fresh situation and although he looks 10 years old, he obviously showed enough with a 33:3 season at BYU to deserve a high pick. If he’s decent in New York he’ll quickly become one of the most advertisable people in the league but if he struggles they’ll make sure he knows about it as they have done in camp so far. As someone who doesn’t watch much college football at all I’m relying on the opinion of others and it seemed to be between him and Fields in the experts eyes while the Jets were seemingly all-in on Wilson from very early in the process.
They have given him a lot more options on offense paying a decent amount for Corey Davis, alongside Keelan Cole in FA and drafting Elijah Moore to play alongside reliable Jamison Crowder who will probably get over 100 targets in the short game this season. My boy Mimsy looks like the odd-man out though. Tight end could be an issue with Chris Herndon still listed as the 1 on the depth chart despite disappointing fans and fantasy players alike for the last 4 years.
Running back isn’t an area of depth either. Tevin Coleman signed over the summer and is listed as the 1 on the depth chart, with sophomore La’mical Perine and rookie Michael Carter behind him. Carter has had a lot of hype from twitter nerds due to the lack of top talent in front of him, but Coleman will get the first chance to disappoint there, I still think Josh Adams might get a look in as well after a couple of half-decent games last year.
The offensive line should be a good unit drafting Alijah Vera-Tucker, probably the best guard in the draft inside of Mekhi Becton who they picked up in the first round last year, so things might finally be looking up for the hapless Jets.
Annoyingly for me the Bengals didn’t pay Carl Lawson and the beast went to the Jets on a big deal. I think with a very good defensive coach as his boss who could become one of the best in the league, I really rate the kid highly, he has had injury issues, but his pressure rates are up there with some of the best there are. If they can get Quinnen William, Sheldon Rankins and him all fit at the same time it’s a good start. CJ Mosley signed a decent deal for them and returns after opting-out last year.
It’s a big improvement for the Jets. I don’t see them finishing anywhere other than 4th in their division though and lines of between 6 and 6.5 for them are probably about right. After trading away Jamal Adams (who’s missing training in Seattle looking for a new contract) they’ve got capital for next year too, it’s a good start of a rebuilding process for them.
How do I see it panning out?
I think the Bills still win the division, I have been saying all summer that I’d take the under on their line still, but after looking into it a little closer they really did impress last season. I do think they’ll regress to the mean a little and having the Dolphins and Patriots stronger in division will mean it’s tougher, but they are the best team here still. I actually have the Patriots leap-frogging the Dolphins. There’s areas of concern on each roster but It’s Belichick vs. a Disciple, I’ll take the master. While the Jets have improved it may well still be a 4-5 win season for them at the bottom of the division.
Betting angles for the AFC East.
Realistically we should probably be taking the 4/6 on the Bills to win the division. I have them a couple of games better than the chasing pack and putting them together with the likes of the Chiefs and Bucs will build you nice little earner with fairly minimal risk.
Similarly the 1/2 on the Jets finishing 4th seems like easy money as well, double that with my Bengals and you probably won’t go far wrong.
I can’t be backing any forecast as frankly I can’t pick between the Pats or Dolphins for second place.
Passing yards markets start with Josh Allen at 4499.5 (a very big middle with Skybet at 4674.5), Tua at 3899.5 and Wilson in his rookie year at 3850.5. Paddypower haven’t even bothered trying to get a line a Cam Newton.
The best odds for Josh Allen leading passer is 10/1 on Betfred (only place offering EW as far as I can tell) and you can get 10/1 on Diggs most yards (EW at Betfred) and 13/2 on him for most receptions with Skybet. Personally I don’t think I’ll take either, even with 3 places, but the odds are there.
Waddle 7+ TDs at 5/2 and Damien Harris o839.5 rushing yards + Jonnu Smith o4.5 receiving TDs at 11/4 are both tempting bets on Redzone, especially the Patriots bet.
My Fantasy leagues will be running again this year, if you’ve not done so already submit your interest and I’ll be in touch when they’re sorted later in August.
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