Can anyone in the AFC East dethrone Tom Brady and the New England Patriots from the helm of the division? I know that’s a question you’ve heard repeatedly and quite frequently over the past decade, and it’s probably getting on your very last nerve if you are a fan of Buffalo, NY Jets or Miami. Unfortunately, the painful reality is that until anyone proves worthy of the crown, we will continually repeat the question season-in, season out and in the NFL lines.
On a hopeful note, though, Brady will be suspended for the first four games of the season, including a Week 2 encounter against Miami and Week 4 game against Buffalo. Given that both the Dolphins and Bills have each managed to taste victory at the Foxboro over the past two seasons (Buffalo winning in the 2014 season and Miami winning in the 2015 season); there is hope—at least on paper—that these two AFC East teams could help cut down New England’s win total in 2016, which could easily open the door for a new team to lead the division.
Too farfetched? Maybe… But after Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the 2008 season and Miami duly took advantage to rise to the top of the AFC East with a division-leading 11-5 mark, any source of similar hope is gladly welcomed by Miami, Buffalo NY Jets faithfuls, right? Well, with that in mind, here is brief and early look at the top NFL sportsbetting picks to win the AFC East title in 2016.
Taking a Closer Look at the 2016 AFC East Expert Picks
“Buffalo Bills are going to be the top defense in the [NFL].”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) July 21, 2016
The Favorite Betting Pick To Win the AFC East: New England Patriots (-180)
There isn’t really a need to stress this more than it already is profound; the simple truth is the Patriots have dominated this division and it will take something special to unseat them from the AFC East throne. I mean, the Patriots have won 13 of the 15 AFC East titles since Brady was anointed as New England’s starting quarterback in ’01. That, of course, includes 7 straight AFC East Championships since the Dolphins got a free pass in 2008. Therefore, even with Brady suspended, you should be careful about betting against the Patriots, who are still the odds-on favorites to lift the divisional crown in 2016.
The Smartest Betting Pick To Win the AFC East: Buffalo (+350) /New York Jets (+750)
With Brady out, just about any of the remaining three teams in the division could easily gain ground over the Patriots in this four-game stretch, especially if Jimmy Garappolo proves to be as shaky as we think he is. I mean, how hard can it be to defend (or beat) a guy who has appeared in 11 games as a relief quarterback with zero starts?
That said, Buffalo and the Jets (mark New York with an asterisk) appear to be the most likely two teams to take advantage of New England’s woes. The Bills have a good quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who proved more than capable of handling his own in 2015. Supported with Buffalo’s solid running game and above-average defense, Taylor should be able to give the Bills a legitimate fighting chance for the divisional title. After all, Buffalo has the second-easiest strength of schedule in the AFC East behind Miami, with the Jets having it toughest followed by the Patriots.
Speaking of the Jets, they were a darn good team in 2015, missing the playoffs by a whisker after recording a stellar 10-6 campaign. In the offseason, the Jets have addressed a good number of their faults, making them even tougher (on paper) than they were last season. The problem, however, is that the quarterback situation in the team is still up in the air, with Ryan Fitzpatrick still sulking over his contract demands. If Fitz is back and happy, feel free to bump the Jets above Buffalo in the pecking order of these smart picks and mark them as a very dangerous threat to New England’s title ambitions. But if his demands aren’t met, or Geno Smith/Bryce Petty/Christian Hackenberg is selected as the team’s starting quarterback; then be sure that the Jets will probably struggle en route to another average season, as has been the case in the many years before Fitz revolutionized New York’s offense last season.
The Longshot Betting Pick To Win the AFC East: Miami Dolphins (+450)
Our lovely and always-looking-good Fins are here as longshot picks because of Ryan Tannehill and his known struggles at QB. The Dolphins have some of the best offensive targets in the nation and Miami’s O and D lines are doing just fine, but with Tannehill unable to take his game to the next level, the team can never swim too far away from the division cellar. Word out in Miami is that Tannehill believes that 2016 could be his chance to breakout, thanks to a new offensive system and new coach in the team, and for the damn sake of his NFL future, we hope that he is true. But until we see more on the field from the eighth overall 2012 draftee, him and his Miami team will have to become comfortable with being branded as AFC East longshots.
2016 AFC East Predictions
I’ve said everything that there is to say, and as you probably expect, I am sticking to New England as my AFC East winning pick, for now. The Jets should come second, assuming the Fitz contract goes well, followed by Buffalo and Miami, respectively.
My 2016 AFC East Pick: New England
If you have any reservations about my picks, take it with me when the season (and I mean the real season, not the preseason) begins. Until then, enjoy the training camps!