Not too long ago the AFC East was simply the New England Patriots and three teams with little chance to dethrone the Super Bowl contenders from New England.
Things have changed.
The Buffalo Bills are not just favored to win the division title but are also the team to beat in the AFC with odds of +325 according to the sportsbook.
The Miami Dolphins, who added receiver Tyreek Hill and offensive tackle Terron Armstead in the offseason, are tied for ninth in the odds to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl followed by New England at +2000.
The Jets added three first-round picks including two in the top 10. However, only the Houston Texans are given a lower chance of reaching the Super Bowl among AFC teams than the Jets.
2021 record: 11-6 (lost to Kansas City in division playoffs)
Odds to win the division: -200
Regular season win total: 11½ (Over -125, Under -105)
Award candidates: Josh Allen, +700 Regular Season MVP; James Cook, +1600 Offensive Rookie of the Year; Kaiir Elam, +1800 Defensive Rookie of the Year; Von Miller, +5000 Defensive Player of the Year.
Buffalo came close to making it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the Jim Kelly days. The loss to the Kansas City Chiefs resulted in a change in the overtime rules for the postseason meaning both teams will get at least one possession instead of the previous format when a touchdown is scored on the first drive brought an end to the Super Bowl.
The Bills added some star power to its defense with the signing of Miller. The Bills picked cornerback Kaiir Elam and running back Cook.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) May 13, 2022
With quarterback Allen and receiver Stefon Diggs having another year to develop chemistry, the offense should be even better in 2022 to go with a championship-level defense.
It is no wonder that so many people making NFL predictions favor the Bills to make a deep playoff run.
2021 record: 9-8
Odds to win the division: +400
Regular season win total: 8½ (Over -135, Under +105)
Award candidates: Tua Tagovailoa +5000 Regular Season MVP
The Dolphins were a popular pick to make the playoffs a season ago coming off a 10-6 season. Miami finished 9-8 to just miss the postseason.
Miami was 12th in the AFC in points scored. The Dolphins signed offensive tackle Armstead as well as guard Connor Williams, added running back Sony Michel and made a huge trade to acquire Pro Bowl receiver Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. Pass-rushing linebacker Melvin Ingram was also brought in.
The Dolphins biggest change came when Brian Flores was cut loose as the Dolphins head coach and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel was hired. McDaniel has no experience as a head coach so it will be worth monitoring how he fares with a roster good enough to make the playoffs.
Those who bet online could be a little skeptical about the inexperienced head coach so it could be a wait-and-see approach before the odds shift in Miami’s favor.
New England Patriots
2021 record: 10-7 (lost to Buffalo in the first round of playoffs)
Odds to win the division: +400
Regular season win total: 8½ (Over -125, Under -105)
Award candidates: Matthew Judon, +5000 Defensive Player of the Year; Mac Jones, +6600 Regular Season MVP.
The good news is that the Patriots returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The play of rookie quarterback Mac Jones had something to do with New England’s 10-7 regular season. The bad news is a 30-point loss to Buffalo showed how far the Patriots are from returning to the Super Bowl
The other teams in the division clearly got better in the offseason. It remains to be seen if the same is true about the Patriots and the NFL betting lines having the perennial playoff on the outside looking in when it comes to securing a 2022 postseason berth..
Ball-hawking cornerback J.C. Jackson is now with the Los Angeles Chargers, veteran guard Shaq Mason was traded to New England while defensive end Chase Winovich was swapped for linebacker Mack Wilson. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was released. A trade for receiver Devante Parker might help the offense. Ty Montgomery was another receiver added to the roster but New England’s draft class was generally panned by draft analysts.
This will be an interesting season for the Patriots. Will the Dolphins move past them in the division pecking order? How much of a move will the Jets make and can anybody challenge the Buffalo Bills?
New York Jets
2021 record: 4-13
Odds to win the division: +2000
Regular season win total: 6 (Over -115, Under -115)
Award candidates: Breece Hall, +900 Offensive Rookie of the Year; Jermaine Johnson, +900 Defensive Rookie of the Year; Garrett Wilson, +850 Offensive Rookie of the Year; Ahmad Gardner, +1000 Defensive Rookie of the Year
It was a surreal scene at the 2022 NFL Draft seeing fans of the New York Jets approving of the decision made during the first two days of the draft
Gone were images of long-suffering fans expressing their disbelief at the moves being made by the Jets.
Cornerback Gardner and defensive end Johnson should immediately improve the defense. Receiver Wilson and running back Hall give the Jets two highly regarded playmakers on offense.
One of the biggest issues will be the play of quarterback Zach Wilson. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft had a pretty nondescript rookie season. There are the pieces in place for the Jets to be much improved on offense.
Safety Jordan Whitehead was brought in to replace Marcus Maye while former No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas gives New York another versatile defensive lineman.
The Jets figure to be a better team in 2022 but playing in a very tough division, how much of a jump will there be in the win/loss department?