NFL Predictions: AFC East Odds and Preview with Football Betting Picks
by Robert Ferringo - 8/28/2010
For all of the bluster about the New York Jets this offseason and preseason, they are still second-rate in the view of the oddsmakers.
A quick look at the odds to win the 2010 AFC East show that New England is still the head of the class, with posted odds of even-money to take the divisional crown. Now, on one hand that may be less of a projection and more of just an assumption by the books that they will get the most action from the public on Tom Brady and the Patriots almost out of habit. But on the other hand, the Pats did win the East five straight years from 2003 to 2007, and they finished in the top spot last year as well making it six in seven seasons.
However, I still think that it’s significant that the Pats have shorter odds knowing how much “Joey” money that the books will take on the trendy Jets to rule the division this year. The Dolphins are almost afterthoughts at +350 and Buffalo is a non-factor at +2000.
Here is my NFL predictions and betting odds and my 2010 AFC East preview:
New England Patriots Predictions
2009 Record: 10-6 (8-0 home, 2-6 road)
2009 Against the Spread: 8-8 ATS, 5-10-1 vs. Total
2009 Rankings: 3rd offense (3rd pass, 12th rush); 11th overall (12th pass, 13th rush)
2010 Odds: 9/1 to win SB, 4.5/1 to win AFC, 1.5/1 to win AFC East, 9.5 wins O/U
Offense: You know the names by now: Brady, Moss, Welker, Maroney, etc. The Patriots offense has finished in the Top 10 in eight of the past nine years and the Top 8 in four straight seasons. I don’t see anything out of this group that suggests that they won’t be there again this season. Wes Welker’s return, and the continued development of Julian Edelman, means that the Pats will be able to do whatever they want in the middle of the field. And despite his advancing age Randy Moss is still an elite wideout. The offensive line has been renovated due to defection, injury and the holdout of Logan Mankins. They have looked solid so far this preseason but they need to get some guys back to boost their depth and protect Brady. I think that top-end defenses will be able to have their way with that line. I am looking for a more concerted effort out of the Patriots to run the ball, if for nothing else to protect their young defense. New England will play five of the top defenses in the nation in their first seven games so this unit will have to hit the ground running. I expect nothing less out of Brady, but it’s a tall order.
Defense: Soft. That’s the first word that comes to mind when talking about the Patriots defense. And with the loss of Ty Warren for the year the front seven might be that much softer this time around. The Pats still have some girth up front and I think that former Carolina starter Damione Lewis might be a key to the front seven. The linebackers are young, but hungry. Just one of their starters at LB has more than two years of experience in the NFL. But Jerod Mayo looks like a keeper. The secondary was good at minimizing big plays last year and Brandon Meriweather looks like he is finally living up to his billing as a top pick. Apparently Bill Belichick is taking a much more active role tutoring this team this year, which can only help. But while they have some nice athletes they don’t have enough proven players and they don’t have enough of a veteran presence on that side of the ball. This group’s ceiling is probably “average” (around No. 15 overall). And I just can’t shake the vision of them getting absolutely mauled by Baltimore in Foxboro to end last year. This team needs to bow its back if the Pats are going to be a threat, and I’m looking at a lot of ‘over’ games out of this team unless they really pick up their running pace on offense.
Skinny: Right now I get the sense that the general public is undervaluing the Patriots. The books won’t make that same mistake. The last two years I’ve been leading the charge that the Patriots dynasty is finished and that this team has simply been gutted on defense (which, ahead of Tom Brady, was the true backbone of their title years). That is all true, the defense isn’t what it once was and this is no longer a Super Bowl team. However, that doesn’t mean that the Patriots can’t wreck some people and post an 11- or 12-win season. They won 10 games seven straight years and have had just one losing season in the last 14. This group can be unstoppable on offense and if the defense can get tougher these guys will be right back in the mix at the top.
New York Jets Predictions
2009 Record: 11-5 (6-2 home, 5-3 road)
2009 Against the Spread: 12-4 ATS; 9-6-1 vs. Total
2009 Rankings: 20th offense (31st pass, 1st rush); 1st defense (1st pass, 8th rush)
2010 Odds: 12/1 to win SB, 6/1 to win AFC, 1.5/1 to win AFC East, 9.5 wins O/U
Offense: Yeah, mark me down (again) as one of those guys that think Mark Sanchez sucks. You know, it was just two short years ago that we didn’t even know if Sanchez would be the starting quarterback at USC, and now he’s supposed to be a Super Bowl-level guy? He stunk last year, and much, much better QBs than he have endured a sophomore slump (see: Ryan, Matt). The Jets ran the ball on 59 percent of their plays last year, which was by far the highest total in the NFL. I haven’t seen anything that would make me think they’ll change up that ratio. And they will definitely miss Thomas Jones this year. Every team that ever let him walk has. So now this team is just one injury to unproven Shonn Greene away from going with LaDainian Tomlinson as their feature back. As we saw last year with the Chargers, he doesn’t have that much left in him. I do like what they’ve done with the receivers, as Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes can make big plays down the field. But they both drop too many passes. And for a young quarterback that I think will struggle as is that’s a problem. The line is exceptional, so they should move the ball somehow. But translating that to points is another story and I’m banking on a Sanchez flop.
Defense: With or without Darrelle Revis, this defense is still going to be legit. Rex Ryan is a proven commodity and his ultra-aggressive style is the new way of the world in the NFL. Kris Jenkins looks lean and mean and is critical to this unit at the nose tackle position. The linebackers are stellar, with David Harris, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace doing most of the dirty work. I do think that they will miss Kerry Rhodes, whether he was a “good fit” in Ryan’s defense or not. Antonio Cromartie was a nice addition and I still think that Revis will be in uniform in Week 1. But if he isn’t then depth becomes an issue. Their backup linemen are a bunch of nobodies. Their backup linebackers, outside of Jason Taylor, are suspect. And their backups in the secondary are completely unproven. The Jets have just two backups (Taylor, Brodney Pool) that have ever been NFL starters. Again, even if this group can’t match last year’s No. 1 ranking I still think they’ll be a Top 10 unit. But with such a weak offense and with a tough schedule this unit may have to be dominant again if they want to return to the postseason.
Skinny: This is the most hyped team in the NFL these days and I really don’t have a ton new to offer. Their defense is exceptional, with or without Revis. But I still have major questions about their offense and I think that the Jets have a brutal schedule. They open against the Ravens and Patriots before a trip to Miami. They could lose all three and then this team could spiral out of control. (Or they could win two of three and the hype would reach a fever pitch.) I have been screaming for eight months that this team is the most overrated in football. And if the Colts don’t decide to rest their starters late last year the Jets finish 7-9 or 8-8 and no one cares about them. They benefited from a soft schedule last year and this time around teams have circled their games with the brash Jets so they won’t sneak up on anyone. They wanted a bull’s eye on their backs. They got it. Now we’ll see what they do with it, but I am not expecting a shred of value betting on this team.
Miami Dolphins Predictions
2009 Record: 7-9-4 (4-4 home, 3-5 road)
2009 Against the Spread: 8-8 ATS, 9-6-1 vs. Total
2009 Rankings: 17th offense (20th pass, 4th rush); 22nd defense (24th pass, 18th rush)
2010 Odds: 30/1 to win SB, 14/1 to win AFC, 3/1 to win AFC East, 8.5 wins O/U
Offense: In my opinion there is nothing on offense more overrated than a “big play receiver”. Wide receivers rely so much on the rest of the offense – a quality quarterback, an offensive line that can protect, a running game to keep the safeties honest, etc. – that their contributions are always overvalued. That’s a bit of the sense I’m getting about Brandon Marshall being added to this group. Marshall is legit, when he has his head on straight. But the rest of the offense still needs to come to play because, by himself, Marshall won’t be able to improve on Miami’s No. 17 ranking. I like Chad Henne and think he has a world of potential. But he’s not there yet. The running game is nasty, with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown forming an exceptional one-two punch. And some additions on the offensive line (Richie Incognito, John Jerry) give them an even more physical and imposing group up front. This team plays physical on both sides of the ball, which I love. And the addition of Marshall also bumps every other wideout down a rung on the ladder and will help them create better matchups. But it all comes back to Henne, who I think will be good, if not inconsistent until he gets more experience. This team converted an amazing 49 percent on third down last year. That will be tough to replicate. But as long as they run the ball as well and set up a lot of third-and-shorts then they have a chance to top last year’s scoring numbers.
Defense: A couple years ago the Dolphins made their miraculous 1-15 to the playoffs turnaround on the back of a physical veteran defense. This team still wants to play an imposing style of Parcells football, but I wonder if they have the bodies to hold up all season. This team could start as many as three rookies (DE Jared Odrick, LB Koa Misi, S Reshad Jones) to go along with three other second-year players (LB Cameron Wake, and CB’s Vontae Davis and Sean Smith). That is just too much inexperience, despite some talent. Last year a young, rebuilt secondary was exceptional while allowing just a 57 percent opponent’s completion rate. But they were torched for an NFL-worst 13.4 yards per completion so when teams did complete a pass it was usually for a big play. Karlos Dansby was a nice addition to lead the defense but he’s not a game changer, in my eyes. This team has a nice rotation at nose tackle (a key to the 3-4) and some strong depth in the secondary. But I don’t understand why they let Matt Roth go and I feel like they aren’t strong enough to play their physical brand of football for a full 16 games.
Skinny: Like a lot of analysts, the Dolphins started the year as a team that I was pretty high on as a sleeper. But the more I see the more questions I have. I think that this team has the foundation to be very, very good for the next decade if Henne and some of the defenders pan out. But will they be good NOW? Yes, they will be good. But I’m starting to think that .500 is their calling for this year. I really like the way the offense is set up, with a great running game bolstered by a big play wideout and a powerful offensive line. But this team has to play the Jets and Patriots twice apiece, has to square off against the brutal AFC North, and has to cross over with the always-physical NFC North. I don’t think that this team is physically mature enough and I don’t think that they have the depth in the defensive front seven to hold up against that schedule this year. I think that the people waiting for Miami to be “back” will have to wait one more year.
Buffalo Bills Predictions
2009 Record: 6-10 (3-5 home, 3-5 road)
2009 Against the Spread: 8-8 ATS, 6-10 vs. Total
2009 Rankings: 30th offense (30th pass, 16th rush); 19th defense (2nd pass, 30th rush)
2010 Odds: 120/1 to win SB, 60/1 to win AFC, 20/1 to win AFC East, 5.0 wins O/U
Offense: I just can’t say enough bad things about this group. By any metric, the Bills were one of the worst offenses in the league last year. They were sacked almost once every 10 drop-backs. They converted just 31.6 percent of their red zone attempts into touchdowns. They converted just one of every four third downs. They couldn’t run, they couldn’t pass, and what makes things worse is that going into the year they thought they’d be OK. It’s pretty simple: Buffalo has the worst offensive line in the league. They did last year and they do this year. As a result, they can’t run the ball consistently despite having an excellent stable of backs. And they can’t pass the ball consistently because Trent Edwards doesn’t have time to throw. And having “grown up” in that situation Edwards is now habitually making rushed or poor decisions because he’s used to running/fearing for his life. It’s not going to be any better this year. After their first two games of the year the Bills scored more than 20 points just twice, and one of them was the last game of the year when Indy was resting everyone. So in the core of their season, Week 3 to Week 16, Buffalo averaged 13.2 points per game. It won’t get much better this year.
Defense: It’s still odd to me that on a team this bad the Bills actually have one of the best units in the league: their pass defense. Buffalo’s secondary is loaded. It’s deep and skilled and the Bills are one of the few teams that can match up with the three- and four-receiver attacks that the top offenses in the NFL boast. I don’t understand why this team isn’t trading some of its six capable corners to get help elsewhere (hello, Baltimore). For some reason this organization thought that pushing out Aaron Schobel was a good idea and the front seven will suffer as a result. Buffalo is making the shift to the trendy 3-4 defense this year, but they are just mediocre at linebacker. This team has been in the bottom 11 in rushing defense in five straight years so they needed to switch something up. And I think that the front three could be OK. But I don’t see good things in the linebacking corps, as high picks Paul Posluszny and Aaron Maybin need to show something before I believe they are NFL starters. In all, if this group can improve just a bit against the rush then they could become an irritant against some high-powered offenses. I will officially say that I like the Buffalo defense and I think that they will be better than their numbers suggest.
Skinny: Yeah, these guys have sucked the last several years and I don’t think that they have hit rock bottom yet. I didn’t like the Chan Gailey signing even though they had been rejected by their first few choices (Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan). There just isn’t much talent here. The Bills are good in spots (running back, secondary) but they are just dreadful in others (offensive and defensive lines, receivers) and there is no cohesive unit here. The Bills are always feisty and always a bit better than you think. They have averaged nearly seven wins per year the last five years, despite the mess of their organization, and have avoided that two- or three-win debacle that so many other bottom feeder clubs have endured in that time. But I think that this could be the year. We’ll call it five wins – barely – and a continued rebuilding.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional sports and NFL handicapper for Doc’s Sports. Last year his NFL picks brought home +62.5 Units for his clients and he is regarded as one of the top totals players in the sport. He guarantees a winning football season this year or he will work for free until you turn a profit. You can sign up for his college football and NFL picks and get more information here.
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