AFC East Divisional Futures Predictions – Betting Odds to Win The Division in 2021
Since 2001, the New England Patriots have won 17 of the last 19 AFC East titles. All with Tom Brady under center.
In fact, one of the years they failed to win it, Brady suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the 2008 season. Dominant is the word you are looking for here.
But now Tom Brady is gone, and winning the AFC East is no longer a lock for New England.
Let’s break down which team has the best chances to win the divisional title in 2020.
Odds To Win AFC East 2020
|New England Patriots||+110|
|New York Jets||+850|
|Bet On The AFC East Division Winner At|
New England Patriots +110
Besides not having Tom Brady in their roster for the first time since 2000, the Patriots have other things to worry about this year.
New England is the team with the most opts (regarding contracts for free agency) out for the 2020 season. LB Dont’a Hightower is the biggest name opting out, but other veterans like OT Marcus Cannon, RB Brandon Bolden, and S Patrick Chung followed the initiative.
Even WR Marqise Lee, who signed with the team in March, decided not to play in 2020. In total, eight Patriots opted-out.
Last season New England was sitting at 8-0 late in October, scoring 31.2 points per game and allowing 7.6. Then everything went to hell when they started playing competent teams.
The defense not only lost their captain in Dont’a Hightower for 2020, but before the option to opt-out, they had an exodus of players on the defensive side. DT Danny Shelton, LB Jamie Collins, and S Duron Harmon are now in Detroit while LBs Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Robert moved to Miami.
New England Are Quietly Rebuilding
On offense, the team signed QB Cam Newton for pennies on the dollar. Newton underwent surgery three times in the last three seasons for three different injuries. His best season was in 2015 and hasn’t returned to that level in recent years.
The team also lacks weapons on offense. WR Julian Edelman is the number one target, but he’s 34-years old. Edelman recorded 100 catches for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns on 153 targets in 2019.
The rest of the Patriots wideouts were accountable 119 receptions, 1,445 yards and ten touchdowns on 214 passing attempts.
The Patriots were the team with the fewer completed passes to tight ends last season. HC/GM added two third-round picks tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene in the draft. Neither recorded 700-yards in a season during their college careers.
New England does have some issues with talent and depth. The only reason they are favorites to win the AFC East is Belichick still there. But without palpable talent, he needs to do the coaching job of a lifetime to win the division.
Buffalo Bills +120
After missing the playoffs for 19 straight years, the Bills have reached the postseason twice in the last three years under HC Sean McDermott. He’s one of the most respected coaches in the league, although he’s never in the spotlight.
Buffalo reached both postseasons as a wildcard team, but last season, it looked like they closed the Patriots’ gap. Without having to face their nemesis Tom Brady, and with New England losing a lot of players in the offseason, this might be their year.
Let’s Talk Defense, First
The Bills is a team build from the defensive side of the football. In 2019, their defensive unit was overshadowed by the historical numbers the Patriots and the 49ers recorded. But talent-wise, they are close if not better than those two franchises.
DT Ed Oliver is one of the best interior linemen in the league, despite playing only one season. The first-round draft pick DE AJ Epenesa and underrated DE Jerry Hughes will put together one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
The middle is well-covered by Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Those are one of the best LBs duos in the league. And then there’s Tre’Davious White, who is easily a top-3 cornerback in the NFL. He earned the respect of his peers last season.
The secondary defense will have CB Josh Norman on the other side while Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde play safety. Poyer & Hyde took part in 95% of the Bills plays in 2019.
The Offense: Not Their Strength
If there is one side of the ball where the Bills are weak is the offense. We can all agree on that. But it’s not because of a lack of talent. Instead, it’s because QB Josh Allen is not good enough.
Last season Allen “improved” his completion percentage from 52.8% to 58.8%. It still is a subpar number for a starting quarterback in the NFL. He had 20 touchdowns, ten more than his rookie season, and nine interceptions, three less than the previous year. It’s not massive progress by any standard.
Adding WR Stefon Diggs to the equation should help Allen. Last season Diggs became just the fourth player in league’s history to record 1,100 yards on fewer than 100 targets. He will lineup across from WR John Brown while WR Cole Beasley plays in the slot.
Buffalo is loaded with talent and ready to win the division for the first time since 1995.
New York Jets +850
There isn’t much to be excited about the NY Jets, other than they can’t be as bad as they were in 2019, or can they?
RB Le’Veon Bell set career-lows in nearly every major category in his first season with the Jets. He can only go up from here. Or at least that’s what I want to think.
The Jets should have a better offensive line this season as three of their starters suffered injuries last season and didn’t play much.
That also means QB Sam Darnold should have a better season. But again, he was so bad in 2019, the expectation for improvement is not a big statement. He barely got to 3000-passing yards while tossing up 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Those Numbers: Not Terrible
But when you look at them in detail, things change. He threw over two touchdowns just once all season. He also had several games with three and four interceptions and threw for 300-yards only once.
The team let WR Robbie Anderson go for reasons I still fail to understand. They selected rookie Denzel Mims in the second round of the draft and signed Breshad Perriman in free agency. Those two alongside Jamison Crowder make one of the least attractive receiving corps in the league.
Then on defense, LB CJ Mosley opted out of the season, and S Jamal Adams was traded to Seattle. Both represent losses that the team couldn’t afford if they were considering improving in 2020.
The Jets have a lack of talent and coaching problems. Adam Gase was awful as a play-caller and a leader in 2019. There isn’t anything that makes me believe he will be better in 2020.
Miami Dolphins +850
The Dolphins are done tanking. They got their new franchise quarterback and signed a bunch of players in free agency. Miami signed 12 players for a whopping total of $237 million. That’s the most money invested by any team.
Let’s start with the defense, which will be a lot different in 2020. The front office added OLB Kyle Van Noy, DE Shaq Lawson, and CB Byron Jones in free agency. All three guys will make a significant impact on the team.
Byron Jones, in particular, should be fun to watch. He will play on the other side of CB Xavien Howard. The Dolphins’ secondary defense is talented all of a sudden.
Jordan Howard And Matt Breida To The Offense
On offense, the team wanted to boost the run game and signed Jordan Howard and Matt Breida. They also added offensive linemen Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt in the draft while Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras arrived as free agents.
Their new offensive line will also help rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa stay healthy after a hip injury in his last year with Alabama.
Tua won’t start the season under center. Instead, Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain as the starter. However, if the Dolphins don’t start with a winning record, we will see Tua take over.
Miami is perhaps one year away from competing in the AFC East, but in 2020 they will be a pain for any opponent that doesn’t take them seriously.
AFC East Division Winner Prediction
The New England Patriots’ reign of terror in the AFC East should end in 2020.
By losing so much talent, the Patriots opened the door for any other opponent to claim the division. The Bills are, by far, the best suited to take the AFC East title.
Buffalo has the most talent on defense and added some serious pieces on offense. We trust Sean McDermott, and we have seen them get closer to New England, especially last year.
QB Josh Allen is the only doubt. He hasn’t improved, but the team is so good, it can carry him. The Bills +120 is the best bet to win the AFC East.
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