We already took a look at win totals in the NFC East. We’ll now turn our attention to the AFC East as we’re roughly three weeks away from rookies reporting to training camp.
The Buffalo Bills are the +650 favorites to win this year’s Super Bowl at BetMGM and they are also tied for the highest win total with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Based on win totals, it’s obvious that oddsmakers view Buffalo as the class of the AFC East this year but overall, this is a very competitive division.
AFC East Win Totals
Provided by BetMGM
|AFC East Team||Over||Under|
|New York Jets||5.5 / -155||5.5 / +130|
|Miami Dolphins||8.5 / -130||8.5 / +110|
|New England Patriots||8.5 / -120||8.5 / +100|
|Buffalo Bills||11.5 / -130||11.5 / +110|
The Buffalo Bills are the odds-on-favorite to win the division at -190. Both Miami and New England are right behind with odds at +400, while the Jets are the longshot on the board at +1800.
In this preview, we’ll apply the same logic we used for our NFC East win totals, which means honing in on each team’s strength of schedule as the foundational piece of our analysis. We’ll also examine any changes to the rosters during the offseason.
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The final thing to note is the scheduling composition for the AFC East, as each team will have the following:
- Six games against divisional opponents.
- Four intraconference games against the AFC North.
- Four interconference games against the NFC North.
- One game against an NFC West team with a similar win-loss record from the previous season.
New York Jets Over 5.5 Wins (Lean)
The 2021 season for the Jets was all about growing pains. It was Robert Saleh’s first year as a head coach, and he had to navigate the league with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson.
And although New York finished the year at 4-13 (.235), their Pythagorean expectation suggests their win percentage should’ve been closer to .291. That’s roughly the equivalent of one additional win on the year, so it’s fair to say that perhaps the Jets deserved a bit better.
For the Jets to fully cash in on their opportunities, they’ll need Wilson to improve his game in his sophomore campaign. One area where he can grow would be releasing the ball quicker.
According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Wilson ranked 36th out of 38 quarterbacks in average release time. His Total QBR (28.2) was also the second-worst of any quarterback in the league. However, it wasn’t all Wilson’s fault, as Pro Football Focus ranked the Jets’ receiving corp 29th out of the 32 teams.
The Jets’ future does look a bit brighter after what many regarded as a successful offseason. New York had two top ten picks in the draft, selecting cornerback Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati) at number four and Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson with the tenth pick. The Jets were also active in free agency by signing tight ends C.J. Uzomah (Bengals) and Tyler Conklin (Vikings).
Although our Action Network predictive analyst Sean Koerner projects the Jets have the eighth-most challenging schedule on paper, I still think there’s a path for the Gang Green to win over 5.5 games. However, it will be tight because I project their ceiling to be six wins at best. And given only a slight edge, I won’t commit to more than a lean on over 5.5 wins.
Miami Dolphins Over 8.5 Wins (2 Units)
New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is someone I strongly considered for a possible Coach of the Year futures ticket at +1600. I still might revisit backing him at some point before the season gets underway. McDaniel is widely considered an offensive guru, and I think he’ll be inventive in how he deploys the human cheetah, Tyreek Hill.
It’ll be interesting to see what McDaniel can also get out of his quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. While Tagovailoa is often lauded for his accuracy (67.8 completion percentage), he attempted the second-fewest passes of at least 25 yards, according to ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques.
In June, Tagovailoa did an interview with Muscle & Fitness magazine where he blamed his lack of downfield passes on the playcalling and not his arm strength. Those comments will undoubtedly put a bullseye on his back if things don’t go well for the Dolphins this season.
However, I think McDaniel is the perfect coach to mask the inefficiencies of a quarterback like Tagovailoa, who might not necessarily have the strongest arm. After all, McDaniel spent five seasons in San Francisco with a quarterback named Jimmy Garoppolo, who isn’t exactly known for his arm strength.
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Tagovailoa should benefit immensely from working with his new wide receiver and head coach. I also don’t see how the offseason additions can be a step backwards, considering that the Dolphins were already coming off a nine-win season in 2021. Since this total seems short to me, I’ll look to play it over as my best bet for two units.
New England Patriots 8.5 Wins (Pass)
I don’t particularly have a side in this total, so I will use this opportunity to have a bit of a rant.
I’m unsure what to make of the Patriots, especially when they’re being extremely tight-lipped about who’s running their offensive and defensive units.
While some insist that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is simply trying to protect his coaches from unnecessary criticism, NBC’s Mike Florio has an interesting theory that the one he’s trying to protect is his son Stephen. His son was viewed as the de facto defensive coordinator since he’s the one visibly calling the plays on the sidelines.
However, the Patriots won just one of their last five games in the season. Their only win during that span was against the 3-14 Jaguars. And if you put that game aside, New England allowed 35 points per game in their four losses.
The departure of Josh McDaniels to the Raiders will now enable Belichick to avoid naming an offensive coordinator—thus allowing him to shield his true intentions even further. But it’s evident that this bizarre practice only began as his son’s role elevated within the team.
During my time as a D1 goalkeeper, I always remember my coach barking at me when I shouted generic instructions to the defenders in front of me and not a specific player.
He’d always respond, saying, “A name and a command.” In other words, he was telling me to give someone a task and make them accountable.
As a result, if I don’t know who is responsible for the Patriots’ offense or defense, so I want no part of getting involved with this win total.
Buffalo Bills Over 11.5 Wins (0.5 units)
After watching arguably the greatest game in NFL history, I was gutted when the Bills lost to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Buffalo’s decision not to kick the ball short and force Kansas City to run some clock was costly as the Chiefs moved the ball 44 yards in two plays and still had three seconds left on the clock to kick a game-tying 49-yard field goal.
My power ratings had the Bills as the best team in the league, and I liked their chances to win the title. This season, they’ll have a new offensive coordinator, as Brian Daboll left the team for the head coaching job with the New York Giants.
However, the Bills will still have some normalcy after promoting quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to the same position. Dorsey has already worked with Allen for three years as the quarterbacks’ coach. Unlike Daboll, Dorsey knows what it’s like to play the position as a former NFL quarterback, All-American, and BCS national champion with the Miami Hurricanes.
There’s no question the Bills will continue to do everything in their power to get back to a Super Bowl. In the offseason, they signed All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller (Rams) to a six-year deal. Miller will team up with tackles Tim Settle (Commanders), DaQuan Jones (Panthers), and Jordan Phillips (Cardinals) on the defensive side of the ball.
Buffalo also added defensive end Shaq Lawson (Miami), who they originally drafted in the first round in 2016.
As for the offense, Allen should benefit from the signing of tight-end OJ Howard (Buccaneers). Duke Johnson (Browns) will add depth in the backfield, while Jamison Crowder (Jets) brings valuable experience as a slot receiver.
One thing that might fly under the radar is Buffalo signing Joe Brady as their new quarterbacks’ coach. Brady was widely credited for Joe Burrow’s success in LSU’s national championship run. For whatever reason, things didn’t work out for Brady in Carolina with Sam Darnold. The truth is that good coaches still need to work with good players, and no one will dispute that Allen is a better quarterback than Darnold.
While 11.5 wins might seem a bit high, I don’t want to step in front of this Bills’ train. I’ll take the over for a half-unit.