AFC East Picks & Odds: +360 Pats back on top

NFL Lines Week 1

They say you can’t keep a good man down, and that is just one of the reasons why our AFC East picks for 2021 are headlined by the New England Patriots.

Bill Belichick needs to prove he can win without Tom Brady – we can only imagine how p***ed Big Bill was in 2020 as his Pats went a miserable 7-9 while TB12 left for Tampa and won ANOTHER Super Bowl ring.

The Pats went out in the offseason and tried to change things in a big way, and they will need to if they are to get back on top of their own division – let alone the league.

Buffalo was stellar in racing to a division title last year with QB Josh Allen fulfilling all the potential scouts had seen in him coming out of college.

Miami meanwhile has been smartly using all that draft capital acquired in gutting its roster a couple of years ago and appears in place to challenge.

The Jets – well they are likely to be the Jets again – so not much of a threat. But it should be interesting at least with yet another new start at the key positions of head coach and QB1.

Now we need to tell you why our NFL betting senses tell us that New England is the team to be on in 2021 – dive in…

Odds to win AFC East

Buffalo is a firm favorite, and we can’t complain about that, but we are happy to wager against the Bills. Latest odds:

  • -150 Buffalo Bills (widely available)
  • +350 Miami Dolphins (widely available)
  • +360 New England Patriots (FanDuel)
  • +2500 New York Jets (widely available)

NB: Odds correct on Sunday September 5, 2021

AFC East Analysis & Predictions

Buffalo Bills: No doubt Buffalo is a worthy favorite to repeat as AFC East champion. Allen is back with a $258million, six-year contract extension in his back pocket. But we expect a slight regression from him – and that may be crucial here.

For us to totally buy in that Josh is indeed the savior to take Buffalo to the promised land, we need more than one year’s evidence.

Outside of the signal caller, Buffalo has been smart in the offseason, prioritizing the trenches as it gears up for a Super Bowl bid. The offensive and defensive lines got plenty of attention in free agency and the Draft. We like that.

We did take the minus odds on Tampa to win the NFC South and Tennessee in the AFC South. But we don’t always do that and -150 Buffalo? With Belichick lying in wait? Not the sure thing some might think.

Miami Dolphins: So many things in the NFL come back to the quarterback. And that’s why we can’t have Miami in 2021. In our view they are still a year away – and more importantly we are nowhere near sold on second-year signal caller Tua Tagovailoa. We’re also not sure the Dolphins are either.

Tua struggled to get the ball down the field in his rookie season despite a relatively decent W/L record. That has to change in 2021 and the Fish drafted Tua’s former ‘Bama team-mate – WR Jaylen Waddle – to try and speed the progression.

We like Miami in so many places (good move getting CB Xavien Howard back in the fold) but we don’t like them at the most important spot in the game. We’ll pass for now.

New England Patriots: There are plenty of things which need to fall into place if New England are to challenge Buffalo in the East. But who better to make that happen than Belichick?

The man is a master at getting the best out of his resources, maximizing the value and ability of his players. Fitting them into a scheme. And all he did this offseason was significantly improve the talent level.

Belichick and the Pats made a huge splash in free agency – headlined by the captures of Baltimore LB Matthew Judon and tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.

They followed that up by addressing the biggest question mark of all – Brady’s successor under center.

New England spent the 15th overall pick in the 2021 Draft on Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, and this week it anointed him as the starter for the new season by releasing former league MVP Cam Newton.

We know Belichick is a defensive genius (he also has a few stars coming back after missing the 2020 pandemic year) and if Jones can gel with OC Josh McDaniels, we expect a pretty swift turnaround in New England. That +360 is the value here.

New York Jets: The Jets have been a running joke in NFL circles for so long that it’s almost not funny any more. They couldn’t even tank successfully to ensure getting generational QB talent Trevor Lawrence at #1 in the 2021 Draft.

Instead New York ended up taking BYU QB Zach Wilson at 2, and while he has incredible potential, this isn’t exactly the best scenario in which to bring about a swift transition to pro success.

We loved the offseason acquisition of defensive end Carl Lawson to really beef up the pass rush, but he is already gone for the year with a torn Achilles. A major blow.

We expect the Jets to be better than they were in 2020 – and we are fascinated to see what Wilson brings along with new head coach Robert Saleh. But it would be crazy to even dream of them challenging for a division title any time soon.

AFC East Picks

Like we said when assessing the 2021 Pats, this is about value. Our job is to make sure whatever you bet on, it’s value.

We don’t like the -150 Buffalo, and we like the +350 Miami even less. Compared to those odds, New England at +360 is the wager to take. Limit your stakes to something manageable, but do bet on Belichick to turn things around swiftly.

OddsCritic Pick: New England Patriots to win the AFC East at +360 (FanDuel)