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In a little over nine weeks, the greatest sport and the best sport to gamble on returns. People have started to break down who will be on their fantasy team, and fans have convinced themselves that this will be their year, even though their team missed the playoffs last year. This is the time when fans are the most hopeful, no injuries are happening in training camp, and your heart isn’t broken because you haven’t yet realized that your team sucks.
Today we look at the AFC East, the division that the Patriots have ruled for over a decade. The Patriots’ time is over since the Bills won the division, and the Dolphins are a young and upcoming team. Last season was the best season for Miami since 2016. The last time that a non-Patriots team won the division was in 2008, when the Dolphins won the division. Miami went 11-5, as did the Patriots, but the Dolphins held the tiebreaker over New England. Will the Bills go back to back again? Will this young Miami team make the next step? Will Bill Belichick get the Patriots back on track? Will the woes for New York continue, or will they finally make the playoffs for the first time since 2010?
It looks like Buffalo is the new king of the AFC East. Last year, the Bills went 13-3 and easily won the division. They finished 2nd in the AFC and were one win away from getting a bye in the first round. In the first round, they won 27-24 in a thriller versus the Colts. Buffalo’s defense stepped up in the second round and allowed only 3 points against the Ravens when they won 17-3. In the AFC Championship, they lost 24-38 in a shootout versus the Chiefs.
Josh Allen made the next step last year and proved that he was more than a rocket arm. Allen finished 2nd in MVP voting, and if it weren’t for Rodgers going scorched earth last year, Allen would have won. Allen finished with a 69.2 completion percentage, threw for 4544 yards, 37 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and an 81.7 QBR. The addition of WR Stefon Diggs transformed their offense, and the Bills made more offseason moves to improve their great offense. In free agency, they added WR Emmanuel Sanders and TE Jason Hollister. They drafted DE Gregory Rousseau and DE Carlos Basham Jr. WR John Brown, TE Tyler Kroft, and DE Quinton Jefferson all left in the offseason.
The Bills had a well-balanced team; they were great on both offense and defense. They finished with the 3rd best overall offense, 2nd points, 2nd yards, 3rd pass yards, 3rd passing touchdowns, and 20th in rushing yards. In 2020 if you’re going to have an off-balance offense, it’s better much better to be an elite passing team than running. Buffalo had the 10th best defense, 15th points allowed, 14th yards allowed, 13th passing yards allowed, 17th rushing yards allowed, and 27th rushing touchdowns allowed. In the last six games, Buffalo’s defense turned the corner and allowed 18.3 points per game.
Other than the games against the Chiefs, Titans, and Bucs, the Bills have a fairly easy schedule. They will be the heavy favorites against the Texans, Jaguars, Jets, Panthers, and Falcons. If the Bills take care of business against the bad teams, a 13-3 record is easily in play. I think the Bills’ defense will keep their momentum from the second half of the season, and their offense will keep rolling, so I’m taking their over in wins and for them to win the division.
The Dolphins have seemed to turn the corner and are a promising young team led by head coach Brian Flores. Last year, Miami went 10-6 and finished 2nd in the AFC East. They were one win away from the Colts for the final Wild Card spot. From 2016-2019, Miami was horrible, going 18-30; it looks like the future will be much brighter for Miami.
Tanking for Tua worked for Miami in the 2020 NFL draft, as they drafted Tua 5th. There are many questions regarding how good Tua is, but we will see how Tua does in a full season since Miami no longer has the option of putting in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last year in 9 games started, Tua went 6-3. He had a 64.2 competition percentage, threw for 1814 yards, 11 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a 52.5 QBR. Miami added more offensive firepower in the offseason since drafting WR Jaylen Waddle and signed WR Will Fuller in free agency. They also added more defense since signing CB Justin Coleman and DT Adam Butler in free agency and drafting DE Jean Phillips. They lost DT Davon Godchaux, and EDGE Kyle Van Noy.
Brian Flores is from the Belichick coaching tree and has proven that he is a great defensive mind. In his last game for the Patriots as the defensive play-caller, Flores gave up only 3 points in the Super Bowl versus the Rams. Last year, the Dolphins finished with the 6th overall defense, 5th points allowed, 20th yards allowed, 2nd passing touchdowns, and 16th rushing yards allowed. Their offense needs to step up for them to have a chance to win the AFC East. Last year, they finished with the 18th overall offense, 15th points, 22nd yards, 20th passing yards, 22nd passing touchdowns, and 22nd rushing yards.
Other than the Jaguars and Bengals, the Dolphins have a hard schedule. They will be the underdogs in games against the 49ers, Chiefs, Rams, and Seahawks. Flores’ defense will need to keep them in many of these games, but I don’t know if Tua can take the next step. So I’m not taking them to win the division, and I’m taking their under in wins.
Losing Tom Brady to Tampa Bay was the beginning of the end for New England’s dynasty. The reign for the Patriots ended last year since they finished 3rd in the AFC East, going 7-9. It was their first losing record since 2000. Will Belichick get the train back on the tracks, or is New England just a bad team now?
The Patriots replaced Tom Brady with Cam Newton. Cam started the season looking great, but that was only a blip. Cam finished with a 65.8 completion percentage, threw for 2,657 yards, 8 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a 47 QBR. The Patriots decided to draft a quarterback in the first round and now have a quarterback competition between Mac Jones and Cam Newton. Mac Jones led Alabama, and last year he had a 77.4 completion percentage, threw for 4500 yards, 41 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 203.1 passing efficiency rating. Will Mac Jones be the new starting quarterback, and will that be enough for the Patriots? They also added WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, and TE Hunter Henry in free agency. They lost OT Marcus Canhon, DT Adam Butler, and S Patrick Chung.
Belichick led New England with a great defense like always. They had the 10th overall defense, 15th yards allowed, 8th passing yards allowed, 5th passing touchdowns allowed, and 18th rushing touchdowns allowed. What let them down was their offense; who knew that a Tom Brady-less Patriots would struggle? They finished with the 25th overall offense, 27th points, 27th yards, 30th passing yards, and 4th rushing yards. Will the addition of Mac Jones greatly improve their passing numbers?
We finally have Tom Brady returning to New England in Week 4. The Patriots have an easy schedule going against a Drew Brees-less Saints, Texans, Chargers, Panthers, Falcons, and Jaguars. That should be an easy 5-1 stretch for them, but can they find five more wins to go over? I know it’s the Patriots and Belichick, but if there is a position that is the most important in football, it’s the quarterback, and I don’t trust a washed up Cam Newton or a rookie Mac Jones. It’s very easy to throw for 4,500 yards when you have NFL players in every position while playing in college. I don’t think the Patriots’ defense will be enough, so I’m taking the under and for them not to win the division.
New York Jets To Win Division +2100. Over 6 Wins -115 Under 6 Wins -105
The woes for the Jets look to continue once again. New York hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years, and from the looks of things, it’s going to be 11 straights years. Last year, they finished dead last in the AFC East while going 2-14. They decided that Sam Darnold wasn’t the quarterback of the future and drafted QB Zach Wilson with the 2nd overall pick. Wilson led BYU with a 73.5 competition percentage, 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and a 196.4 passing efficiency rating. Will the addition of Wilson really make that big of a difference for a team that has greatly struggled?
Last year, the Jets were horrendous on both sides of the ball. They had the 31st overall offense, 32nd points, 32nd yards, 31st passing yards, 28th passing touchdowns, and 23rd rushing yards. Their defense was just a touch better, finishing with the 30th overall defense, 26th points allowed, 24th yards allowed, 28th passing yards allowed, and 27th passing touchdowns allowed.
QB Zach Wilson wasn’t the only offseason move that New York made. They added WR Corey Davis, WR Keelan Cole, and RB Tevin Coleman. They also drafted OL Alijah Vera-Tucker to protect Zach Wilson, hopefully. They lost QB Sam Darnold and RB Frank Gore.
Maybe the Jets will be favored against the Texans, but who knows what DeShaun Watson is doing this season, so that’s a big maybe. Sure they play bad teams like the Bengals, Panthers, Falcons, and Jaguars, but I believe that all of those teams are more promising than this Jets team. That is why I’m taking the Jets under in wins, and I’m obviously not picking them to win the division.