2017 AFC East Betting Preview and Odds

No surprise that this year’s AFC East Division will feature a dominant New England squad with everyone else having little chance of sneaking past the heavy favorite. Patriots are the overwhelming favorite to take the division with a steep -1000 price, and they are also heavily favored to win the conference (+190) and Super Bowl (+350). We don’t expect any shocking surprises coming out of this division, with the Bills and Dolphins trying to secure one of the Wild Card slots by year’s end and the Jets being in the running for the #1 overall selection at next year’s draft.

Buffalo Bills

Futures: OV/UN 6 wins, +1200 Division, +15000 Super Bowl

Only nine teams scored more points than Buffalo (399) last season, and with the trio of quarterback Tyrod Taylor, WR Sammy Watkins, and RB LeSean McCoy all back for more work this year we expect another workout for the scoreboard operator. The problem for the Bills is their defense and division record (1-5 last season). Buffalo will transition to a 4-3 defense this year, and typically defenses changing schemes go through a long learning curve. The combination of good offense and bad defense saw 12 of their 16 games sail over the total, including all eight home games. Backing the Over seems like a safe play at least early in the season. As for any hope of reaching the postseason, it will boil down to health on offense and their defense coming together far better than expected. With Watkins injury history and McCoy being overused last year, that’s asking too much. Bills fall short of the .500 mark and can’t seriously challenge the Pats for the top spot in the division.

Miami Dolphins

Futures: OV/UN 7.5 wins, +1000 Division, +6600 Super Bowl

Last year the Dolphins went as far as QB Ryan Tannehill could take them, winning six straight games beginning in mid-October and earning a playoff spot. But when Tannehill was lost for the remainder of the season, any realistic chance of making noise in the playoffs was lost with him and the Dolphins were blown out by 18 points against the Steelers in the Wild Card round. This team was poised to make another playoff run this season but Tannehill is once again lost for the season. Enter Jay Cutler, who decided to put off retirement to play for Miami (more accurately, his wife decided) and try to keep Miami’s playoff hopes alive. Dolphins will need a much better start than last year’s 1-4 beginning, and their overall -17 point differential for a 10-win team infers last year’s results may have been their best case scenario. Their 7.5-win Over/Under seems like a sucker bet and we don’t think they’ll beat that number, falling short of another playoff run.

New England Patriots

Futures: OV/UN 12.5 wins, -1000 Division, +350 Super Bowl

The defending champs are receiving all the respect in the world from the oddsmakers, entering the NFL Preseason as an overwhelming +350 choice to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. That speaks volumes about not only the talent and experience on this year’s squad, but also the lack of credible competition in the rest of the AFC. Last year’s +191 point differential was a full 57 points better than the second team on the list (Atlanta), and that came despite missing quarterback Tom Brady for the first quarter of the season (suspension). While we don’t necessarily think it’s wise to invest in heavy favorites, the Patriots are the closest thing to a lock as coming out of the conference as long as their main assets stay healthy. They will not have much competition in their division, and while -1000 seems like a steep price to win the AFC East, would take a minor miracle for anyone else to top them. Expect the Pats to be laying heavy prices all year long which will mean huge margins of victory to cover those pointspreads, but taking the over at 12.5 wins does certainly seem likely. Key injuries or resting players late after securing home field advantage would really be the only two ways they fall short of that number.

New York Jets

Futures: OV/UN 4.5 wins, +5000 Division, +10000 Super Bowl

Like the Bills, the Jets rewarded Over players with a 12-4 mark last season. Unlike the Bills, that high Over record was not because of great offense and bad defense, but rather bad defense and low totals to reach. New York never found their footing offensively and a three-man quarterback carousel couldn’t build any momentum. The result was a pathetic 17.2 ppg scoring average and a net -134 scoring differential – both good for third worse in the entire league (Cleveland and LA Rams). Jets have gone to full rebuilding mode, clearing the roster of talent and experience and instead starting over fresh. Linemakers are calling for 4.5 wins this year, but looking at their schedule we don’t see more than three potential victories. Lack of veteran players means they could have a tough time regrouping after a losing skid, and we don’t see them competing late in the season. Under 4.5 wins seems like the reasonable wager here as the Jets are in the running for the top overall draft choice.

Conclusion

Not much drama out of the AFC East this season as the Patriots run away with the division. Having three sub-.500 division foes can only add to what some expect to be a historic statistical season and with Tom Brady under center at the beginning of the year we look for New England to come out of the gate on fire. The only other story line in the division worth monitoring is whether Buffalo or Miami can sneak into the playoffs. Both teams have far too many question marks and aren’t worth the risk. The AFC East is billed as “New England and everyone else” and that’s exactly how we expect it to play out.

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