We kick things off with our look at the AFC East, where while we do not think that the New England Patriots will duplicate their 14-2 regular season of a year ago, we do feel that they will outscore enough teams to repeat as division champions, although we would not be shocked by another quick post-season exit.
New England Patriots (-125): The Patriots deserve to be heavy favorites to win this division, but they are not without flaws. The Pats lost to the Jets in the playoffs because of a weak front seven on defense, and they also lack a speed burner at wide receiver. Furthermore, they surprisingly did not address ether of those needs in the draft. That said, this team should still be able to outscore the rest of the teams in the division, and what they lack in team speed on offense, they make up for by Tom Brady’s precision-like relationship with the current receivers, who are all expert route runners.
(Also see: Patriots Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
New York Jets (+150): The Jets played David to the Patriots’ Goliath in the playoffs, but few teams in the NFL are facing as much uncertainly as the Jets are with so many free agents unsigned. In that respect, the longer the lockout lasts, the bigger the pickle New York could be in. One free agent they may be able to afford to lose is Shaun Ellis, thanks to landing Muhammad Wilkerson with the 30th pick in the draft. Still, they can’t afford to lose too many players, and even Wilkerson should have the usual rookie growing pains if he starts immediately.
(Also see: Jets Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Also see: 2012 Super Bowl Odds | 2011 NFL Weekly Schedule
Miami Dolphins (+600): Like the Jets, we also feel that the Dolphins are an underlay at 6/1 odds, as we simply do not trust the Miami offense to put enough points on the board to challenge the Patriots. Miami averaged only 17.1 points per game last season as quarterback Chad Henne was inconsistent and the running back tandem of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams showed their age. The team ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing, so second round draft choice, running back Daniel Thomas from Kansas State, may get some playing time right away, but the Miami offense needs more help than that.
(Also see: Dolphins Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Buffalo Bills (+1500): The Bills actually showed improvement in the second half of last season, but unfortunately, they never learned how to win, losing overtime battles vs. the Steelers and Ravens and losing another close game vs. the Chiefs on the road, all playoff teams. We are still not convinced that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the man at quarterback, and while Buffalo helped its defensive pass rush in the draft, the defensive front seven should be very young. Now the Bills actually ranked third in the NFL in pass defense last season, but that was just a by-product of the run defense being carved up to the tune of 169.9 yards per game; dead last in the league. Look for Buffalo to finish in the basement of the AFC East once again.
(Also see: Bills Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
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