The AFC East has been owned by the New England Patriots for so long it has become a foregone conclusion that the top spot is theirs and the others are just playing for second. Is this the year that all changes?
- New England Patriots (2017 record: 13-3) – The Patriots come into this season with more turbulence than we can recall since Tom Brady became “the man” nearly two decades ago. Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero was banished from the sidelines by head coach Bill Belichick during last season and thus the rift began. Brady skipped voluntary workouts for the first time in forever, Rob Gronkowski (also a Guerrero disciple and Brady’s best football friend) floated the idea of retirement, Julian Edelman is now suspended for four games due to a dirty drug test, playmaker Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins, scatback Dion Lewis took the money in Tennessee, and TB 12’s blindside tackle Nate Solder was given 62 million reasons to become a New York Giant. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough the Pats moved speed merchant Brandin Cooks to the LA Rams for the 23rd pick in the draft, which became offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, and let cornerback Malcolm Butler join Lewis in Tennessee. So, are there questions? Ah yeah, just a few. Despite all of this, the Patriots are a prohibitive -670 to win the East, favorites to win both the AFC at +260 and the Super Bowl at +650 trailed by the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles at +875. According to the oddsmakers, it’s going to be business as usual for the Patriots but things feel different for the first time in a long time down in Foxboro.
- New York Jets (2017 record: 5-11) – Finally, Jets fans have a reason to be excited. New York traded a slew of second round picks to move up just three spots in the draft to tap USC’s Sam Darnold as their savior-in-waiting. Unlike most flailing franchises, the Jets have the right idea in giving Darnold potentially a year to sit and watch, instead of forcing him into a baptism by fire because they have returning veteran Josh McCown under center and signed Minnesota’s first-round pick from 2014, the oft injured Teddy Bridgewater. Quarterback has been the bane of the Jets’ existence for lo these many years and if Darnold is as good as advertised they may have found their key to the postseason for years to come. Of course, the offensive line is suspect and the Jets desperately need an upgrade at the skill positions such as wideout and running back. However, New York has one of the easiest schedules in the league and could surprise this season.
After a quick check of the odds over at Sportsbook Review, the sports betting industry’s bible for current odds on anything from futbol to football and featuring the world’s best online sportsbooks, we see that the odds on the Jets to win the East are +1625, the AFC odds are +4800, and New Yorkers will be chagrined to learn that they are getting zero respect in being tagged as the biggest longshot on the board to win the Super Bowl at +17500.
- Buffalo Bills (2017 record: 9-7) – The Bills grabbed Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in the draft and it could be a gamble that pays off for a team that has relied on the mercurial talents of Tyrod Taylor over the last three years. Instead, the club will now roll the dice with Allen and veteran Bengals’ backup AJ McCarron under center. That said, the Bills have issues on their offensive line after losing three starters from last season’s team and desperately need to get more productivity out of a wide receiving corps that features Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones as their one-two punch … more like a polite slap. Defensively, the Bills traded up again to land Virginia Tech’s wildly athletic linebacker Tremaine Edmunds as the 16th pick in the draft – good move. The Bills are headed in the right direction but they have a hellacious first-half of the season schedule that could put them in a hole from which they don’t emerge. The odds on Buffy to win the AFC East is +1350, the AFC +3300, and their Super Bowl odds are +12000.
- Miami Dolphins (2017 record: 6-10) – Dolphins fans had to be shaking their heads just a bit when the Fish remained pat at QB with Ryan Tannehill and instead opted to take Minkah Fitzpatrick (safety – Alabama) at No. 11. Nothing wrong with Fitzpatrick, who can play at corner or safety but the draft was loaded with talented defensive backs and there were defensive linemen available that could have bolstered a Miami D-line that was among the weakest in terms of quarterback pressures and sacks. On the flip side, the Dolphins got a big boost at tight end when they selected Penn State’s Mike Gesicki who catches anything and everything thrown his way.
In the addition by subtraction department, the Dolphins rid themselves of Ndamukong Suh but then dealt their top wideout and three-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry to the Browns for a fourth and seventh round pick. Say what?! Of course, Landry was looking for a big payday and the Dolphins were not inclined to continue sticking the franchise tag on him, unable to negotiate a long-term agreement, but couldn’t they have done better for a top-flite receiver than to get what became Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe and a seventh-rounder next year that probably won’t even make the team?
Sportsbook Review is revealing that the industry’s premier betting sites are making the Dolphins +1350 to win the AFC East, +3750 to win the AFC, and the second highest longshot, above only the Jets, to win the Super Bowl at +12500.