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NFL Football Betting: AFC East Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 8/18/2014 1:08:08 PM

The AFC East has been the same for the past several seasons, at least in one very basic way: The New England Patriots have won it. Some things have changed in the second, third and fourth spots, especially at two and three, but the same lord of the manor has maintained his hold on the other three teams in the division. What’s going to be the big question in the AFC East this season?

Preview: 2014 AFC East Season

The New England Patriots are still coached by Bill Belichick. They still have Tom Brady at quarterback. They still have a roster filled with players that can be plugged into many positions and can be asked to perform when other players are injured and the nature of the depth chart shifts. The Patriots might not have won a Super Bowl in nine years, something which seems very hard to believe, but they’re always in the championship chase. They’re consistently in the AFC divisional playoff round, and they’ve made the AFC Championship Game in each of the last three seasons, splitting two games with the Baltimore Ravens while losing to the Denver Broncos last season.

The last time the Patriots did not make the AFC Championship Game, the New York Jets stepped into the spotlight. The Jets made two straight AFC title game appearances in the 2009 and 2010 NFL seasons, losing to the Indianapolis Colts the first year and the Pittsburgh Steelers the second year. The Jets beat New England in the playoffs in January of 2011 and were a nemesis for the Patriots for a few years, when Rex Ryan had an intimidating defense that managed to transform the way the Jets carried themselves on the field. However, that defense has lost some of its staying power, and with the quarterback situation deteriorating into a total mess, New York has not been able to keep pace with New England. This season, the Jets have Geno Smith and Michael Vick competing for the starting job. Vick is the better player, but his body is so brittle and has been prone to injuries on a seemingly annual basis since his suspension for dogfighting a few years ago. The Jets are sound on defense, but they still don’t have the consistency on offense that will likely get them to the playoffs.

If the Jets can’t challenge New England in this division, though, Miami might be able to do so. The Dolphins got a generous schedule this year, one that’s nicely balanced in terms of getting the tougher games at home and the easier non-division games on the road. That’s how a team wants its schedule to work out. Miami gets Kansas City, Baltimore, Green Bay, and San Diego at home. The two big non-division road games are Chicago and Detroit. If Miami can clean up at home and split Chicago and Detroit, it could be in for a big year and give New England a run. The play of quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be central to the Dolphins’ hopes.

The Buffalo Bills are doomed to stay in the basement of the division, primarily because their breakout defensive player last season, linebacker Kiko Alonso, is out for the season with an injury. Buffalo’s offense under quarterback E.J. Manuel is a work in progress, so the defense really needed to carry the team in September and October. The Bills do not have the resources to stay with anyone in the AFC East.

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