AFC East Preview: Super Bowl or Bust for the Buffalo Bills
Posted on: August 27, 2023, 02:28h.
Last updated on: August 28, 2023, 12:11h.
The Buffalo Bills are still the team to beat in the AFC East, even though the New York Jets dominated the headlines this off-season. The Bills are +120 odds to win the AFC East, and they’re ahead of the Jets (+270), Miami Dolphins (+300), and New England Patriots (+800).
The Jets added future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a trade, which made them a popular pick to win the division. The Jets also saw a bump in the futures market after they appeared on the latest season of HBO’s Hard Knocks reality series.
The Bills have won the AFC East three seasons in a row, and seek a fourth-straight division crown. They ended the reign of the Patriots, who won 11 consecutive division titles between 2009 and 2019. The Patriots won the AFC East 17 times since 2001. But the “Evil Empire” has not won the division since Tom Brady left the team after the 2019 season.
The Dolphins last won the division in 2008, and the Jets seek to end a two-decade drought after their last AFC title in 2002.
Buffalo Bills: Still Waiting on that Elusive Championship
- AFC East Odds: +120
- Super Bowl Odds: +900
- 2022 Record: 13-3
- 2023 Win Total: 10.5 o/u
Over the last three seasons, the Bills are 37-12, including two 13-win seasons. All-Pro quarterback Josh Allen led the Bills to only one appearance in the AFC Championship, and he has an overall record of 4-4 in the playoffs, with zero trips to the Super Bowl.
The Bills suffered two tough losses in the AFC Divisional Round over the last two seasons, including an overtime thriller against the 2021 Kansas City Chiefs.
Could this finally be the year the Bills win the big one? Then again, that’s what the Bills Mafia has been saying the last three seasons, to no avail.
Safety Damar Hamlin returned to the team after he collapsed in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at the end of the season. It’s unknown if he can return to his old form. But his presence in the locker room provides an emotional boost for the team and the rabid Bills Mafia fan base.
The Bills have a win total of only 10.5 over/under, mostly because of a difficult schedule that includes a game in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5. They opted to postpone their bye until Week 13, and host the New York Giants in Buffalo in Week 6 after a roundtrip sojourn across the pond.
The Bills play four tough non-divisional road games against teams that advanced to the playoffs last season, including the Bengals in Week 9, Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12, Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14, and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16.
New York Jets: Rodgers the Gang Green Savior
- AFC East Odds: +270
- Super Bowl Odds: +1600
- 2022 Record: 7-10
- 2023 Win Total: 9.5 o/u
The Jets are eager to put their “LOL Jets” reputation behind them and look toward a positive future. The franchise and fan base has legitimate hope after they acquired Rodgers in a trade with the Green Bay Packers.
The Jets have a win total of 9.5 over/under. Some pessimistic fans are reluctant to fire away on the over, while others are all-in on Rodgers and Gang Green.
The Jets are the second favorite on the board to win the AFC East at +270 odds. But they still have to address serious issues with their offensive line.
The Jets finished last season with seven wins, thanks to a strong defensive unit and two heralded rookies. Cornerback Sauce Gardner won the Defensive Rookie of the Year, and wide receiver Garrett Wilson won the Offensive Rookie of the Year. If rookie running back Breece Hall did not blow out his knee, Hall might’ve snagged the top rookie honors instead of Wilson.
The current defense looks as fierce as last season, and the Jets upgraded their offense with Rodgers and veteran wide receivers Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman. The Jets also signed All-Pro running back Dalvin Cook via free agency. By adding Cook, the Jets prevented him from joining division rivals like the Dolphins or Bills.
If the Jets can reach double-digit victories, they’ll have a good shot at a playoff berth. The Jets are -130 odds to make the playoffs, according to DraftKings. If you think the Jets will still be the same old “LOL Jets,” then you can fade them at +110 odds to miss the postseason.
Miami Dolphins: Curious Case of Tua’s Health
- AFC East Odds: +300
- Super Bowl Odds: +2500
- 2022 Record: 9-8
- 2023 Win Total: 9.5 o/u
The Dolphins have a stocked arsenal of offensive weapons, including wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. They have one of the brightest young head coaches in the league with Mike McDaniel, who is known as an offensive wunderkind.
The big question surrounds the health of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The injury-prone Tagovailoa will always have a dark cloud of doubt hanging over his head for the rest of his career after suffering multiple concussions last season.
McDaniel and the Dolphins drew heat for their mishandling of Tagovailoa’s obvious concussion in Week 3 against the Bills that was dismissed as a back injury. Tagovailoa was knocked unconscious a few days later against the Bengals during a terrifying incident on Thursday Night Football. The NFL responded to the outrage and installed league-certified concussion spotters to keep a keen eye on players, especially after they incur a huge hit.
The stakes are high in South Beach because of Tagovailoa’s health status. If Tagovailoa plays a full season without spending time on the IR, then the Dolphins could compete with the Bills for a division title. If the injury bug rears its ugly head, then the Dolphins could end up with a losing season if they’re unable to find success with backup QB Mike White.
The Dolphins are on the short list of teams interested in adding disgruntled running back Jonathan Taylor in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. If the Dolphins do not add Taylor, they’ll utilize a running back by committee with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson.
New England Patriots: Never Sleep on Coach Belichick
- AFC East Odds: +800
- Super Bowl Odds: +6500
- 2022 Record: 8-9
- 2023 Win Total: 6.5 o/u
The Patriots are only 25-25 since Tom Brady departed in free agency, but head coach Bill Belichick still cobbled together one winning season and a playoff berth in 2021. The Patriots took a step back with an 8-9 record last season. Quarterback Mac Jones shouldered most of the blame. But the Patriots had a sub-optimal offense under co-offensive coordinators Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
Patricia and Judge were former coaches with the Patriots who parlayed their Super Bowl success into head coaching positions elsewhere. However, Patricia and Judge were fired by the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, respectively. A loyal Belichick rehired them, but both were out of their depth running the offense in 2022. Patricia was a former defensive specialist, while Judge was a well-regarded special teams coach.
Belichick corrected his mistake, and replaced the Patricia/Judge braintrust. He hired former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who returned to the Patriots to stabilize an offense that went off the rails in 2022.
Jones was the subject of trade rumors all off-season. But the Patriots are sticking with the former Alabama standout at quarterback for one more season. The offense looked more cohesive during the preseason, which was expected under O’Brien.
The Patriots are -300 odds to miss the playoffs, but +250 odds to make the playoffs. A postseason berth seems out of reach. But exceeding a win total of 6.5 victories is possible, considering the Patriots have one of the better defenses in the AFC.
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