The last time the Buffalo Bills won three straight AFC East titles, quarterback was Jim Kelly and the playmakers were Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed. All the while, Bruce Smith terrorized anyone in the opposition backfield.
The Bills are not only favored to win the AFC East for a third season in a row, but according to the sportsbooks, they;re also favored to win their first-ever Super Bowl as well.
Three of the four starting quarterbacks in the AFC East were top-10 draft picks, so there is plenty of potential for offensive fireworks in this division.
The New England Patriots had won 16 of the previous 17 AFC East titles before Buffalo won the division crown in 2020. The Patriots are trying to win the division crown without Tom Brady for the first time since 1997. Miami might have improved more than any other AFC team during the offseason, while the addition of three first-round picks will make the New York Jets a much more dangerous team.
The NFL playoff odds list the Bills (+650) with the best odds to win the last game of the season.
The AFC East odds figure to change as the season gets closer, but let’s look at the current state of what could be one of football’s toughest divisions.
Current Odds to Win AFC East
- Buffalo Bills -200
- Miami Dolphins +400
- New England Patriots +400
- New York Jets +2000
Buffalo Bills (-200)
Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have shorter odds to win their division than the Bills, according to betting lines.
If the Bills went into the 2022 season with the same roster as they had in 2021, they’d be legitimate contenders to win the title. They didn’t rest on their laurels.
Von Miller, the NFL’s active leader with 115½ career sacks, signed after helping the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl title.
Love This Game! 💙 pic.twitter.com/SffVj5z7AY
— Von Miller (@VonMiller) June 16, 2022
He thus joins a defense that allowed fewer yards than any other team during the 2021 season. Cornerback Kaiir Elam was selected in the first round to provide support on the side of the field across from Tre’Davious White. If young defensive linemen Ed Oliver, Gregory Rousseau, Carlos Basham and A.J. Epenesa takes the next step, it could be a frightening defense.
Josh Allen has put himself into the equation as the top quarterback in the NFL, improved since the arrival of wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Rookie James Cook and veteran Duke Johnson join Devin Singletary and Zack Moss to give Buffalo tremendous running-back depth.
The Bills even added to its special teams with the drafting of punter Matt Araiza.
There doesn’t appear to be an obvious weakness here, although replacing offensive coordinator Brian Daboll (now the coach of the New York Giants) isn’t easy.
The season begins with games against the Super Bowl-champion LA Rams and AFC South-champ Tennessee Titans, so the Bills won’t be easing their way into the 2022 schedule.
Miami Dolphins (+400)
The Dolphins built through recent drafts, having five first-round selections and four more in the second round in 2020 and 2021. After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, there was a change of philosophy.
Brian Flores was fired in a move that certainly few who make NFL predictions saw at all. Then, a huge trade. Miami surrendered five picks, including the team’s first two selections in the latest draft, to acquire game-breaking wide receiver Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. Left tackle Terron Armstead, ex of the New Orleans Saints, was also signed.
An ineffective running game was addressed with the acquisitions of ex-Los Angeles Ram Sony Michel and former Arizona Cardinal Chase Edmonds, plus the signing of former Dallas Cowboys lineman Connor Williams.
Other than taking a chance on pass-rushing linebacker Melvin Ingram, the defense hasn’t changed that much.
Offensively, the Dolphins the potential to be among the best in the NFL. Bringing in former San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to replace the fired Flores is an indication the time is now for the Dolphins to become a contender.
The Dolphins have the easiest schedule among AFC East teams, as the opposition had a winning percentage of just .481 a season ago. There’s nothing good, however, about back-to-back games against Buffalo and Cincinnati in Weeks 3 and 4,
New England Patriots (+400)
Other teams in the division have made moves to improve their rosters. We’re not sure if the same can be said about the Patriots.
Star cornerback J.C. Jackson is now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers, linebacker Kyle Van Noy (LA Chargers) has left, while linebacker Dont’a Hightower remains a free agent as of this writing. Offensive lineman Shaq Mason was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Ted Karras was signed by the AFC-champion Cincinnati Bengals to bolster their O-line.
There were raised eyebrows at those moves, while the decision to select offensive lineman Cole Strange late in the first round was universally panned by analysts. The selection of receiver Tyquan Thornton was not met with accolades.
However, second-year quarterback Mac Jones, a deep group of running backs and the trade for receiver Devante Parker should provide the Pats with an offense that has plenty of potential. The 2021 season did end in the opening round of the playoffs, with New England allowing 47 points to Buffalo in a losing effort. Has that group improved? We will soon find out.
This season begins with games against Miami, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Green Bay. so that should reveal a lot.
New York Jets (+2000)
One of the highlights of NFL Drafts is seeing distraught New York Jet fans expressing their discontent annually. However, with each of the first four picks, fans did nod approval.
Within the top 50 picks, the Jets selected Ahmad Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Jermaine Johnson and Breece Hall. It could be argued that they procured the top cornerback, receiver, pure pass rusher and running back in the draft.
It was an impressive a year after quarterback Zach Wilson, offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, receiver Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter were the top four picks in 2021. Those eight players have given the Jets fans reason for optimism.
Laken Tomlinson, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, has been imported to bolster the offensive line. Other than the draft selections, the biggest addition on defense was hard-hitting former Buccaneer safety Jordan Whitehead.
Do not expect a worst to first rise by the Jets. However, it is pretty clear this is a much more skilled roster than it was a year or two ago.