The AFC East was a profitable division on the online sports betting lines with three of the four teams finishing in the green in cover rate.
The Buffalo Bills appeared to have the AFC East on lockdown per their -150 NFL odds. While they did capture their second straight division title, it was not without drama as the New England Patriots made them earn it. Both teams qualified for the playoffs while the Miami Dolphins, despite finishing strong, fell short again. And the New York Jets were bad, as everyone predicted.
Buffalo Bills: Can Crushers
It took them to the final game to do it, but the Buffalo Bills secured the AFC East title with a beat-down on the New York Jets. Buffalo finished the season with an 11-6 record and a 9-6-2 record against the spread (ATS).
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 10, 2022
This team benefited largely from two things: 1) beating its division rivals, going 5-1 (4-1-1 ATS) in division games; and 2) smashing weak teams. Buffalo went 8-2 against teams that did not make the playoffs and 6-1 against teams below .500.
While the Bills did have some impressive wins, like their Week 5 blowout against the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo developed a reputation as a pretender – a team that will beat the non-playoff teams but will lose to the contenders.
It was tough arguing against it as Buffalo’s losses – Pittsburgh, New England, Tampa Bay – exposed just how flawed the team can be. But Buffalo finished the season on a strong note, winning four straight and not losing a cover (3-0-1).
Josh Allen navigated through a turbulent season and became the first quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards and rush for over 700. In fact, Buffalo is 7-3 when Allen either throws for over 300 yards or rushes for over 50.
The defense also finished atop the NFL in both points and yards allowed, and if you subtract their games against the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, the AFC’s two most powerful rushing teams, Buffalo allowed just 14.2 points.
Despite the mixed narratives about the team, Buffalo never slipped past the top-six of the Super Bowl lines and is now the second-best AFC team per the latest odds.
New England Patriots: Never Count Belichick Out
It’s amazing what hindsight does. With New England finishing 10-7 and returning to the playoffs, Bill Belichick is suddenly cool again. But was he ever not good? Last season, the Patriots finished 7-9 and looked like a shell of themselves.
So bettors quickly steamed the under 9.5 wins on the Patriots’ regular-season win totals. Never mind that the Patriots’ roster got a significant boost with new acquisitions and players returning from absences, most folks were more than happy to fade Belichick and his boys.
The Patriots not only beat their win totals, but they gave Buffalo a run for its money for the division title. New England parlayed a top-three defense, a steady but prolific offense, and sharp game-planning to go on a torrid midseason run that saw them win seven straight games and spreads.
While New England cooled off toward the end, namely with rookie quarterback Mac Jones hitting the proverbial “rookie wall,” the Pats had already exceeded expectations, going 10-7 ATS and coming within one win to cashing their +350 division odds.
But if the Patriots are to avoid being one-and-done in the NFL playoffs, it will need to recapture its midseason form. The Pats are 8-0 when it has a positive turnover differential and averaged just 0.7 turnovers a game in their wins versus 2.3 in their losses.
Win the turnover battle and you win games. That’s quite the genius conclusion, eh?
Miami Dolphins: One Season, Two Narratives
Just when it appeared like the Miami Dolphins were going to challenge for a top-three draft pick, they swerved and made a last-ditch effort to make the playoffs. And boy, was it one for the books as Miami became the first NFL team to have both a seven-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak.
Of course, this streak is taken with a grain of salt as all the teams Miami beat ended up with a losing record. In fact, the Patriots are the only team above .500 that Miami beat — and it did it twice, with the second win spoiling New England’s chance to capture the division. Take that, Belichick.
Tua Tagovailoa became the first quarterback to start his career with a 3-0 record against Belichick. The oft-injured QB improved on his rookie season, completing 67.8 percent of his passes and throwing for 16 touchdowns for a 90.1 passer rating.
Miami finished the season as a positive NFL picks against the spread with a 9-7-1 record. Their defense turned it up toward the end, resulting in six of their final eight games going under on the totals. The Dolphins ended up with a 9-8 record and one game short of the playoffs yet again.
Despite the strong finish, head coach Brian Flores was among the casualties on “Black Monday.” At the end of it all, Miami’s inability to overcome the good teams cost the Dolphins another spot in the playoffs and the franchise will continue its trend of picking in the upper-middle of the draft.
New York Jets: Still The Jets …
For all but four games of the season, the New York Jets were predictably on the losing end. Their regular-season win totals opened at six and bettors gleefully bet the under and cashed it in Week 17 when New York lost a hard-fought game against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers.
The Jets went 6-11 ATS and 5-11 as an underdog. The team was a mess, as expected, with quarterback Zach Wilson struggling through most of his rookie season. To his credit, he was playing behind one of the most dysfunctional offenses. The offensive line let Wilson get sacked an average of 3.4 times per game.
However, the defense finishing last in the NFL in both points and yards was a bit of a surprise. Head coach Robert Saleh was supposed to be a defensive guru and one who coordinated the San Francisco 49ers to be a top-five defense in 2019 and 2020.
And, yet, the Jets just appeared incapable of stopping anything as teams gained over 400 yards against them eight of 17 times. It’s also why the over was a winning bet with the Jets, cashing on 10 of their 17 games. New York allowed opponents to score 30 or more points on seven occasions.
Still, the Jets made some bettors proud when they pulled off upsets. None was bigger than the win over Cincinnati, where the Jets were 11½-point underdogs and +420 on the moneyline. They also upset the Titans at +205.
But even with these wins, bettors would have lost 6.5 units betting online on the Jets on the moneyline each week.