AFC East Predictions: Pats Still Best Bet?
Despite losing Tom Brady, are the Patriots still the best bet to win the AFC East in 2020-21? Or has the Bills surpassed New England as the new king? Let’s examine the latest odds and make a prediction pre-draft.
AFC East Division: The Latest Odds
According to oddsmakers from online sportsbook Sportsbook.com, the Patriots are still favored to win the AFC East Division despite losing Brady. While New England has 1/1 odds and is favored to win the division, the Bills are 13/10 to win the AFC East, followed by the Jets at 13/2. While the Dolphins offer the best odds to bettors looking to cash big, they’re also the biggest long shots at 12/1.
Can we eliminate the Jets and Dolphins?
While New York and Miami offer the best odds in terms of making money, the Jets or Dolphins would still have to win the AFC East in order to cash said money. Even though the division is more open than it has been over the past 20 seasons, neither New York nor Miami are legitimate sleepers. The Jets have gone to great lengths at the start of free agency to address one of their biggest needs, which is the offensive line. They brought back guard Alex Lewis and signed free agents Connor McGovern (Broncos) and George Fant (Seahawks), but edge rusher, corner and receiver are still needs as well. That’s too much for first-year GM Joe Douglas to address in one offseason. Meanwhile, the Dolphins showed great improvement under first-year head coach Brian Flores from the start of the season to the end of 2020, but Miami is still largely in rebuilding mode. Perhaps the Dolphins will be a legitimate sleeper to win the division in a year or two, but there’s a reason why they’re a 12/1 long shot.
Patriots or Bills?
While the Bills offer a slightly better return on investment for bettors, I still like the Patriots to win the AFC East at 1/1. Yes, they lost Brady and yes, they have other issues outside of the quarterback position that they need to address this offseason. Brady was devoid of weapons a season ago, which is why the Patriots felt compelled to spend a second-round pick on Mohamad Sanu at the trade deadline a year ago. While Sanu is a good player, he’s not a No. 1 receiver and proved as much when the Pats’ passing game still struggled in the second half of 2020. New England also didn’t have much of a running game and its offensive line didn’t offer Brady the same protection as he grew accustomed to over the past 20 seasons.
That said, the Pats still have one massive figure that looms large over the rest of the division: Bill Belichick. While Brady is on his way to Tampa, the Patriots’ relentless attention to detail remains with Belichick in Foxborough. And while Brady is the biggest loss Belichick has endured since arriving in Foxborough some two decades ago, this won’t be the first time the coach has to replace talent that helped him win multiple Super Bowls. I trust that Belichick knows what he’s doing and will stay ahead of a team like the Bills, who gave the Pats all they could handle a year ago, but also benefited from a soft schedule.
Buffalo is an up-and-comer, no question. But Josh Allen still has ways to go in his development and at 13/10, it’s not as if the Bills’ odds offer us much value. I’d gobble up the Pats at 1/1 before oddsmakers start to buy back into Belichick.
AFC EAST DIVISION PREDICTION: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 1/1