AFC East; Can anyone catch the Bills?

Based on win totals from 5 UK-based bookies, best prices from Oddschecker.com

After the years of domination by the Patriots it seems the AFC East has a new team trying to create a legacy with the Bills winning the division for a couple of years and looking set to do the same as odds-on 1/2 favourites to take the title this year and you won’t find my arguing that view. In fact I think the 1/2 available is quite a generous price all things considered. Whether they can take that next step and make it count in the post-season remains to be seen but they are one of the stronger rosters in the league and don’t have the toughest schedule this year.

The Dolphins have made numerous moves in the off-season to get stronger; changing head coach and bringing in Tyreek Hill the main boosts for the offense and they have supplanted the Patriots as the main challengers here, at least according to the book makers. The Patriots have had a rough pre-season on the field with a change of scheme looking like it might take a while to settle in, they are perennial slow-starters who get going late in the season but I don’t think that tactic will work without Brady there. Week 1 Miami hosting the Pats will be very interesting to keep an eye on.

The bottom of the division looks like it will remain the Jets domain (sorry Josh) as they enter the year with Joe Flacco more than likely starting the first few games as Zach Wilson strained his knee ligaments. They seemingly won the draft, so the future should be rosier but this year looks like it could be painful for them once more.

I like the Bills to win the division and will probably be doubling it up with the Colts to take the AFC South title.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills season ended in heart-breaking, but entertaining fashion as they gave up a late lead in Kansas City and the good ole overtime rules left them behind the 8-ball as the Chiefs got the first chance to score and duly did so. They would have obviously still lost to the dominant Bengals, but they should have at least made the Championship game, and the bookies agree with the sentiment having installed them as the favourites for the Lombardi this season.

Josh Allen is a top 3? Definitely top 5 QB in the league having overcome accuracy issues from earlier in his career, a cannon arm and excellent mobility and fortitude keep him running and either avoiding or absorbing hits without too much bother. I can’t see his role changing too much this year despite them bringing in another RB in the draft to possibly try and ease the pressure on the ground.

James Cook, brother of the Vikings Dalvin Cook was the man they took in the draft and he will add to Devin Singletary who looked good in the play-offs and Zach Moss who I expect will still mix in as well. I’d imagine Singletary has earned the first looks but they didn’t seem to trust him, or want to give him a big role last season so that remains to be seen.

Stefon Diggs has proven to be a fantastic pickup by the Bills in his 2 years at the Bills racking up nearly 2,800 yards and 18 TDs in his time there, he was a big part of the change of this franchise and should keep on doing it going forward. Gabrial Davis scored 4 TDs in that Chiefs game and will be the WR2 there now while Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie look like they’ll fight it out for the slot position, McKenzie seems to be the man Allen wants if camp reports are anything to go by. Dawson Knox is bestest buds with Allen and will likely get a lot of Redzone looks.

The defense is one of the stronger units in the league even with Tre’davious White looking like he might not be healthy to start the season.

Overall they should win this division and 1/2 is a good price for that to happen. As for anything other than that, it’s up to them. They are set for a Super Bowl run and just need things to bounce their way when the weather turns. If they earn the #1 seed and host teams in January then it should be onwards and upwards for this team. Bills for the Super Bowl? I wouldn’t be backing the favourite at all in the big pool bets, but I can’t argue they have earned that moniker.

Player wise, I actually like the under 775.5 at Bet365 on Devin Singletary, nothing against him but I do think it will be a shared workload, you can take over 700.5 on Paddypower if you wanted a decent sized middle but the under is my pick there. I’m not going near Allen or Diggs yards, but they would be unders if I had to take they are set around their averages for the last 2 years – Diggs is 6th at 18/1 (Betfred) for most rec. yards this season, that’s not terrible. Dawson Knox o/u 6.5 TDs is a teaser, he got 9 last season and does look like he’ll be there or thereabouts this year. Gabe Davis is at 7.5 and Diggs just 8.5 if you wanted to take a shot at TD scorers for the year.

Miami Dolphins

The markets are looking favourably on the move the Dolphins have made this year and have them as the second faves for the division, expected to win a game more than the Patriots who may be fighting for that spot with them. They brought in Mike McDaniel from the 49ers, a rookie head coach who is expected to run a 49ers-style offense with multiple RBs, end-arounds and the like. It should be fun to watch this year at least.

There’s a lot on the shoulder of Tua Tagovailoa this year though, they brought in Tyreek Hill to give him a stud to target down the field alongside Jaylen Waddle who had a decent enough rookie year and played with Tua in college and they re-enforced the offensive line a little with Terron Armstead coming in free agency, the line last year was one of the worst in the league. So Tua will be quickly running out of excuses if it doesn’t go well at the start of this season. For the record, I’m ambivalent on him. I think he’s fine, I’m not entirely sure about his deep passes but he didn’t get much chance to try them last year as he was under so much pressure. They’ll be an interesting watch to start the year.

Hill and Waddle become a top 10 duo in the league adding speed on speed and Hill has been bigging up his new QB all off-season after getting a huge pay day to move to Florida. Obviously one of the best WRs in the league he should settle in well in this offense even if it is going to be more taking short passes the distance than getting open downfield. Waddle crept over 1000 yards last year and will fit in nicely as WR2 there. It’s thin outside of the big two, Cedric Wilson another summer signing looking like the 3 and Mike Gesicki a very good pass catching TE, although they have been using him to block a lot over the pre-season.

The running game should get the biggest bump with McDaniel at HC. They paid Chase Edmonds a lot of money to come over from Arizona so one would assume he’ll be the starter, but Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and another summer signing Raheem Mostert will all get carries. I wouldn’t be shocked if the coaches familiarity with Mostert gives him a bigger role than most expect, he definitely adds to the pace in the WR corps.

They’re solid on defense with one of the better secondaries and Melvin Ingram coming in to aid the pass rush.

Second in division seems like it will be their high point. The Bills look significantly better than them. They have a tough start to the schedule with the Pats, Ravens, Bills and Bengals in the first 4, that first game will be very interesting to watch to try and judge just how good both of those teams will be this season. I can’t take them to win 10 games, but they’ll be around that number come the end of the year. A playoff spot could be within reach but again, I can’t bet it in a stacked AFC.

Player-wise I actually like Tua over 3800.5 on Unibet and Paddypower (3950 is the line on Skybet if you wanted a middle, both 5/6) – But I prefer over 24.5 TDs on Paddypower and Unibet. 16 in 13 games for him last year but this offense should be considerably more powerful this year. I’m not going to be backing anything for the pass-catchers although Tyreek anywhere near 1000 yards (as he is on PP) is admittedly tempting, and the running back room looks like a crap-shoot.

Michael Reaves/Getty

New England Patriots

Never rule out Bill Belichick. The greatest coach possibly of all time, definitely of this generation just seems to get things done. There didn’t seem any way they’d have a winning record last season with Mac Jones but they got to 10 and a wildcard spot. It does seem to have been a summer of change for them on offense with Matt Patricia coming back as the unofficial offensive coordinator and them moving to a new blocking scheme on the offensive line. It doesn’t look good so far but it’s inevitable that they’ll sort it.

Mac Jones had a decent rookie year, playing all 17 games, finishing with 3800 yards and a mid-table QBR, and he did try to expand the offense as the season went along so it will be interesting to see how he progresses this year. They do still have a lack of attacking options though with Kendrick Bourne and Jacobi Meyers the established players there although they did bring in Devante Parker from the Dolphins to “help” the position. Hunter Henry led the team in TDs last season with 9 and should retain his role but they’ll be wanting more from Jonnu Smith who got paid handsomely.

The running game should be the point of emphasis for them with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson returning, reports suggest that Stevenson may take on more of a James White role after the “should-have-been-MVP” retired over the summer. I like Stevenson to take on a decent workload this year for them, while Ty Montgomery seems like he’d fit the pass-catching role as well.

They’re having a change of the guard on defense as well, Christian Barmore had a very good rookie season up front while Jaylen Mills livens up a weaker than usual looking secondary unit.

It’s stupid to take the under on the Pats despite that looking the most likely outcome, so I won’t be going near win totals. They may well take the 2nd spot in division, again, on paper it doesn’t seem likely but this is Bill and the Pats.

Player-stat wise I won’t be having anything on the passing game, Jakobi Meyers at 750 after hitting 866 last year seems the right line, but it’s not for me. The running game though is of minor interest, I’d be leaning under 825.5 yards for Harris, and I’d have loved to be able to find an over on Stevenson TDs, but there’s nothing out there. So, frankly, I don’t want to bet on anything for the Patriots and I think that could be true of the final team.

New York Jets

After winning the draft with 3 very good first round picks, it’s all been a bit shit for the Jets. The offensive line was looking good but they now have Mekhi Becton out for the year, Zach Wilson twisted his knee in pre-season and looks likely to miss the first few games, although it did originally look like it would be the whole season so that’s probably more on the lucky side than unlucky. 4/7 on them finishing 4th in division seems reasonable as it’s tough to see them anywhere but last. They have a surprisingly horrible schedule for a 4th placed team.

Zach Wilson looks like he’s missing the first few games so Joe Flacco will be starting, there might not be a lot of difference between the two at the moment, but of course one is the future, the other is most definitely not. They brought in Garrett Wilson in the draft to add talent to the WR group alongside Corey Davis and Elijah Moore who looks like he’ll be the WR1 there for this season at least after a decent enough rookie year. There’s high hopes for Moore in fantasy drafts at least. The tight end group was shaken up too with CJ Uzomah earning a big deal and Tyler Conklin coming over from the Vikings.

They drafted Breece Hall in the second round as the first RB off the board at pick 36. It seems he’ll come in as the starter although Michael Carter is still listed as the RB1 for them according to Robert Salah. Whoever it is does still have a good OL to run behind so should do a fairly decent job in the rare occasion they are able to concentrate on that area of the game. I do expect them to be trailing a lot so they probably won’t be a run heavy team this year.

The Jets defense should be spicy this year, Carl Lawson returns up front after missing all of last season, CJ Mosley put up big numbers and Ahmad (Sauce) Gardner looked like one of the most NFL-ready CB prospects of recent years after not allowing a catch in college.

Unfortunately the schedule is horrible. They are underdogs all but 3 games, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jags and Lions played them as favourites by the time those games come around after the bye week. They open the season with all 4 AFC North teams in a row, Dolphins, Packers, Broncos, Patriots, Bills, all before their bye week. There’s a world where they’re winless after 10 weeks.

Player-props? Not much I would want to take here, Breece Hall yards seems high at 850 over at 365. Elijah Moore 800.5 and 4.5 TDs on Unibet… I actually don’t mind the over on TDs there; Garrett Wilson, 800.5 on 365, 725 on Unibet?

What should we be betting on?

My money for this division would be going on the Bills winning it at 1/2 on Skybet, the Jets finishing 4th at 4/7 on the same site.

Not exactly bank-breaking, but both should be fairly safe. I won’t personally be tying up a large enough amount of cash to make it worthwhile.

At larger odds? Nothing much. I don’t trust the Dolphins enough, or distrust the Patriots enough to bet on who will finish 2nd in this division. I moaned about not finding anything for Rhamondre Stevenson, well the Request-a-bets have something – “Rhamondre Stevenson 750+ Rushing Yds & 10+ Rushing TDs in the Regular Season” – If that was at least 14s then I’d be tempted, but it’s 6/1, so value is not worth it for me.

After the slander against the Jets in their preview section, I see someone else has the same idea and they’re priced at 18/1 to lose their first 9 games on Skybet. Cumulatively that’s probably not great, but you’re not going to roll over a bank roll each week on them. Doesn’t seem too bad actually.

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