In a snapshot glance at last season, it was same old, same old for the New England Patriots. They ran away with the AFC East and then narrowly missed out at another trip to the Super Bowl.
But when you dig deeper, you realize what a weird season it was for Belichick’s boys. Tom Brady threw just 25 touchdowns thanks to a depleted receiving corps while the Pats leaned on their defence more than they have in years.
In the end, while they still won their division, they went just 9-9 against the spread overall. This year, it looks like New England will have more competition in the AFC East.
Odds to win the AFC East and Over/Under win totals
New England Patriots – Over/under win total: 10.5 (over -152)
A lot of New England’s success will depend on tight end Rob Gronkowski’s health. Right now, Gronk’s a go – kind of. At first the team said he’d be ready for Week 1 and now there’s already talk that he’s “50-50” for that game in Miami. The bottom line is if he plays 14 games, the Pats will be in great shape. New England’s defence was up-and-down last year but consistently struggled against the run. The Pats brought in some fresh blood with Darrelle Revis and Will Smith without losing much, so their defence should be better. Really though, it all depends on the health of the offence. If Danny Amendola, Gronk, and the rest of the club’s top receiving threats stay out of the training room, New England should win this division again and though betting over 10.5 wins is a tough pill to swallow, this could be the best group the team’s put together in years.
Prediction: 11-6, first place in AFC East. You’re going to have to pick your spots betting on the Patriots, who will be solid favorites most weeks. Tread carefully.
New York Jets – Over/under win total: 6.5 (over -161)
The New York Jets are a tough team to get a read on. They’re coming off an 8-8 season that showed some progress but also exposed a lot of question marks. This time around they head into the season welcoming WR Eric Decker, RB Chris Johnson and QB Mike Vick into the mix on offence. Vick is being groomed as Geno Smith’s backup and could come in on wildcat formations to give the attack another wrinkle. This team’s bread and butter is again its run defence and that should keep the Jets in a lot of games. If Smith takes the next step, the Jets could be fighting for a playoff spot in December.
Prediction: 9-7, second place in the AFC East. The Jets should be a good under bet for most of the season, especially against run-heavy offenses.
Miami Dolphins – Over/under win total: 7.5 (over -152)
It looks as though the Dolphins are in decent shape again on defence with a strong defensive line anchored by Cameron Wake and a relatively reliable secondary. The same can’t be said about quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the offence. Tannehill throws a great ball and has all the tools, but he can’t complete passes from his back and that’s where he ended up a lot last year thanks to an awful offensive line. This year’s O-line could have four new starts, so it remains to be seen how quickly they can mesh. Playoffs aren’t out of the question for this team but the club will need to get off to a fast start.
Prediction: 8-8, third place in the AFC East. The Dolphins are another good bet to play under a lot. Right now they’re having trouble just snapping the ball, so that should tell you something.
Buffalo Bills – Over/under win total: 6.5 (over -162)
The future does look bright for the Bills with E.J. Manuel, Sammy Watkins, C.J. Spiller, and Marcell Dareus on the roster. The big question for this team is when the club will be able to take the next step. Buffalo is playing its first year under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and will really miss losing Kiko Alonso and Jarius Byrd in the offseason. Seems like this team is still another year or two away before it becomes a major player in this division.
Prediction: 6-10, fourth place in AFC East. Look to bet Buffalo in underdog spots, especially early in the season.