2011 AFC East Predictions and NFL Betting Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 8/22/2011
Only two teams in the NFL have managed to dominate their respective divisions to the tune of winning seven titles in eight years. The first is Indianapolis in the AFC South. The second is the New England Patriots, who have made the postseason in 12 of 17 seasons and demolished the AFC East for the past decade.
Coming off a 14-2 season and with the best brain trust in football still leading the charge there is nothing to make me think that New England won’t again devastate the AFC East. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are always two steps ahead of the rest of the clowns in that division. And if the preseason has been any indication, I don’t suspect that the Patriots are going to be taking it easy on anyone again this year.
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Here is my AFC East predictions and NFL betting odds for futures wagering:
New England Patriots Predictions
2010 Record: 14-2 (8-0 home, 6-2 road)
2010 Against the Spread: 10-5-1 ATS, 13-3 vs. Total
2010 Rankings: 8th offense (11th pass, 9th rush); 25th overall (30th pass, 11th rush)
2011 Odds: 6.5/1 to win SB, 3/1 to win AFC, 2/3 to win AFC East, 11.5 wins O/U
Offense: The breadth and depth of the Patriots offense – their ability to effectively execute various styles and schemes, utilizing complex personnel groupings and tactics – makes it very difficult to qualify. On the other hand, the offense can best be described very succinctly: Tom Brady is friggin’ ridiculous. Brady is the benchmark for accuracy and decision making in the NFL right now and he takes advantage of every weapon at his disposal. As usual, the Pats are ahead of the curve: while teams load up on and focus on producing dominating, outside cover corners, the Patriots circumvent that defensive ploy by decimating teams with their slot receivers and tight ends. This team still can’t run the ball like they did a decade ago and I think that will continue to haunt them in the postseason.
Defense: New England seemed to pinpoint its defensive weakness and addressed it in the abbreviated offseason. They bulked up on the defensive line and seem to be targeting veteran, physical players for depth and to plug holes. I do think that they missed an opportunity to add some impact players to their weak linebacking corps. And their depth at cornerback is suspect. Granted, they were No. 30 in pass defense last year mainly because teams had to play catch-up most of the game. But the reason the Patriots have been run over in the playoffs is because this group is still short on experience, toughness and talent.
Skinny: I can’t remember many teams in the past decade that had as many indicators pointing to a regression year than the Patriots this season. From their Pythagorean wins number to their absurd turnover margin to their “luck” in close games to their offensive and defensive yards per point numbers, the Patriots were overachievers last season while going 14-2. But on the other hand, how do you bet against the Pats having a down year, especially with their rock solid foundation during this offseason of tumult? Look for 12 wins and another division title.
New York Jets Predictions
2010 Record: 11-5 (5-3 home, 6-2 road)
2010 Against the Spread: 9-7 ATS; 12-4 vs. Total
2010 Rankings: 11th offense (22nd pass, 4th rush); 3rd defense (6th pass, 3rd rush)
2011 Odds: 12/1 to win SB, 6/1 to win AFC, 1.8/1 to win AFC East, 10.5 wins O/U
Offense: Same as it ever was. The Jets still have an excellent offensive line and one of the most consistent running games in football. They retained Santonio Holmes and added Plax Burress, meaning the receiving corps won’t be any worse than last season. But in the end it all really comes down to the same old thing: is Mark Sanchez a good NFL quarterback? I still say no, and I don’t see how they will win anything with him under center. He threw for nearly 3,300 yards last year but completed less than 55 percent of his passes. That won’t cut it. I also think that the pressure is mounting on Shonn Greene to take control of the backfield because I don’t expect LT to be as sharp as he was last year.
Defense: Same as it ever was. The Jets still have an excellent defensive front seven and one of the most consistent pass rushes in football. Their secondary is sound on the outside but, as we saw last year when Jim Leonhard went down, they have limited depth at safety. They generated only 12 interceptions as a team last year (No. 25) and I think if this team is going to take the next step they need to do a better job of creating turnovers on defense, not just avoiding them on offense.
Skinny: I have said it many times: as long as you have one of the best defenses in football and a violent temperament as a team in general, then you will be among the top teams in football. But this is the same Jets team that has gotten close, but not close enough, the past two years. Why should things be different this time around? I think this team could regress a bit this year. But they will still be in the mix for the postseason because their foundation is strong.
Miami Dolphins Predictions
2010 Record: 7-9 (1-7 home, 6-2 road)
2010 Against the Spread: 8-8 ATS, 7-9 vs. Total
2010 Rankings: 21st offense (16th pass, 21st rush); 6th defense (8th pass, 7th rush)
2011 Odds: 55/1 to win SB, 28/1 to win AFC, 8/1 to win AFC East, 7.5 wins O/U
Offense: There are pieces here, but we’ll have to see if they fit together. Chad Henne will be on a short leash and we will quickly find out how he handles adversity. Reggie Bush will have an opportunity to prove that he can be an every-down back and that he isn’t one of the most underrated players in the game. (I give him nine games before he is hurt.) This team had only seven rushes of 20 yards or more last year; they will need to at least double that. Brandon Marshall is an X-factor. Will he return to his dominant Denver form or will he be the good-but-not-great guy we saw last year? Also, Jake Long was on the PUP list this preseason and was banged up all last season. If he is healthy this line has a chance to be nasty.
Defense: Miami’s defense was shockingly good last year for the amount of youth that they deployed. Their front line is solid, but not spectacular. Their linebacking corps is deep and athletic, as they replaced Channing Crowder with Kevin Burnett. And the secondary rebounded nicely, with Yeremiah Bell again showing why he is one of the best in the business. Miami’s defense was not great at anything. But they really have no glaring weakness as well. But if they do need to improve somewhere it is defending the Jets and Patriots. Miami was lit up for an average of nearly 30 points per game in their four meetings.
Skinny: Bad karma has abounded this offseason for this team. From the Henne mess to Marshall’s off-field excursions to player defections (like Crowder’s retirement), this has been a tough few months for the Dolphins. But this group has a good young core. They have a load of potential, but they need someone – be it Henne, Tony Sparano, or as yet unnamed leader – to step up and be the rudder for this ship.
Buffalo Bills Predictions
2010 Record: 4-12 (2-6 home, 2-6 road)
2010 Against the Spread: 8-7-1 ATS, 7-9 vs. Total
2010 Rankings: 25th offense (24th pass, 18th rush); 24th defense (3rd pass, 32nd rush)
2011 Odds: 150/1 to win SB, 75/1 to win AFC, 22/1 to win AFC East, 5.5 wins O/U
Offense: This unit has been a debacle this preseason, getting shut down by the Bears and Broncos. But I am holding out hope that the group will improve on last year’s No. 28 scoring offense. Guys like Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Roscoe Parrish are all game breakers. And Ryan Fitzpatrick is bad, but not a total train wreck. The problem is that this team has one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. They can’t hold up against any semblance of pass rush and they can’t run the football at all. If the line doesn’t play better it should be another ugly season.
Defense: Quick: tell me if the Bills play a 4-3 or a 3-4 base defense. The answer is that Buffalo plays a 3-4 although they don’t have nearly the personnel to fill out the scheme. They upgraded by bringing in Nick Barnett and Marcel Dareus. Also, Shawn Merriman will never return to what he was. However, he has at least looked like a solid starting linebacker, which he didn’t resemble his last two years in San Diego. Also, Buffalo has one of the best (and most underrated) secondaries in the NFL. I feel like this group will make big strides this year. But they are still at the whim of the offense; if the offense is turning the ball over, not increasing time of possession, and failing to score then they will hang these guys out to try for yet another season.
Skinny: Bad news Buffalo fans: the Bills are going to suck again. But I think that they will be an entertaining suck. I think Buffalo has some playmakers. But in the end, this team won’t improve until it gets serious about its offensive line. They apparently got the memo about the defensive line – and Marcel Dareus is a beast – but they won’t make any moves up the ladder until their get some linemen and then someone behind them worth protecting.
Robert Ferringo is a writer and a professional sports and NFL handicapper for Doc’s Sports. In 2009 his NFL picks brought home +62.5 Units for his clients and in 2010 he managed another profitable overall football season (college and NFL). 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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