All of our featured sportsbooks have NFL betting odds posted for the 2012 season. Today, our expert NFL handicappers make our AFC East picks and predictions for the season ahead.
2011 AFC East Standings
New England Patriots (13-3) (Lost in Super Bowl)
New York Jets (8-8) (Missed Playoffs)
Buffalo Bills (6-10) (Missed Playoffs)
Miami Dolphins (6-10) (Missed Playoffs)
2011 AFC East Recap: It was a year to remember for the New England Patriots, as they just weren’t touched by any of the teams in the rest of the division. Their defense lacked, but their offense was just awesome, and a great season by QB Tom Brady led the way to, and through the AFC playoffs. The others all missed out on the playoffs. Dissention was the theme in the locker room for the New York Jets, as they didn’t make the postseason for the first time under Head Coach Rex Ryan. The Buffalo Bills made some strides under QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is now the face of the franchise, and the running game was one of the best in the league with RB Fred Jackson and RB CJ Spiller. The Miami Dolphins started slow and threatened to finish with a winless season for a little while, but in the end, they were a respectable team and beat a lot of squads that they probably shouldn’t have.
This is going to be a tough year in the AFC East for a lot of teams. Of course, if you’re the Patriots, matters are probably going to be quite easy. There is no doubt that, with Brady, TE Aaron Hernandez, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Wes Welker, the newly acquired WR Brandon Lloyd, an offensive line that is starting to come together, and a running game that has a heck of a lot of options, that there will be points hitting the scoreboard. The questions are about the defense. However, a lot of those questions might have been answered in the NFL Draft, and we could really make the argument that this is a team that is in a heck of a lot better shape now than it was going into last year. There is a reason that this team is favored heavily on the odds to win the AFC East.
Down the line, we know that the Dolphins are going to be a good team, especially if QB Ryan Tannehill really pans out. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see him in the playoffs, as it was the same thing that QB Andy Dalton did with the Cincinnati Bengals a campaign ago, but it still seems like a longshot at best. The defense for the Dolphins is improving game by game, especially with DE Cameron Wake and LB Koa Misi taking charge. Offensively though, we just don’t understand giving up on WR Brandon Marshall, as now, the only player that appears to have that game changing level of explosiveness is RB Reggie Bush, who feels like he is due to come back to earth after a great first season in South Beach.
2012 Odds To Win AFC East & Super Bowl 47 Odds in the AFC East
New England Patriots (-500 to win AFC East, +600 to win Super Bowl 47)
New York Jets (+650 to win AFC East, +2800 to win Super Bowl 47)
Buffalo Bills (+700 to win AFC East, +8000 to win Super Bowl 47)
Miami Dolphins (+1200 to win AFC East, +4000 to win Super Bowl 47)
Note: All Super Bowl betting lines above courtesy of WagerWeb Sportsbook
Buffalo is a team that seems to have some hope every single year that this is the season that the team returns to the threshold of an AFC power. This year has the same potential and will likely have the same disappointment, but we do have to admit that the future is starting to look brighter. The signing of DE Mario Williams might have been the best signing that the franchise has made via free agency in its history. Locking down Fitzpatrick last year was important, and now the same could be said for RB Fred Jackson as well. There are still some real weapons to work with on both sides of the ball, but there are some holes left to fill, too. Eight wins is a real possibility, but anything more than that would be serious overachieving.
Meanwhile, we are asking questions, and a heck of a lot of them of the Jets. QB Mark Sanchez just hasn’t taken the steps that we, and the rest of the Big Apple thought that he would be taking now that he is in his fourth year as a starting quarterback in this league, and for insurance, the team went out and traded for QB Tim Tebow. Good move? Perhaps. The locker room certainly needed the emotional boost after being torn last year, though we know that Tebow could have the opposite effect, especially if Sanchez struggles again. The rushing attack seems a lot weaker than it was last year, and we just don’t think that the defense has the goods to be able to fend off the improving offenses that the AFC East has to offer.
2012 AFC East Final Predictions: In the end this year, we think that the Jets are going to be the jesters of the division, while the Bills and Dolphins at least show signs of improvement. In the end though, there is just one team that is going to be in the playoffs in the top-heavy AFC out of this bunch, and it might be the heaviest hitter of the bunch. New England is the real deal, and anything less than a dozen wins, the AFC East title, and at least a first round bye, if not the No. 1 overall seed in the conference would be a brutal disappointment.