For the first time since 2008, someone other than the Patriots took the AFC East crown as the Bills cruised to a 13-3 record. New England had a massive amount of opt-outs, and those absences could be felt, especially on defense. Josh Allen took the next step in his progression, so we'll see if Buffalo can make it two division titles in a row. Meanwhile, the Dolphins and Jets have their young quarterbacks in place as they try to move closer to the top of this division. Let's take a look at the four team's win totals and see if there's any value there.
2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Buffalo Bills (Over 11 -120...Under 11 EVEN)
Division Champion Odds: -150
Offense: Allen accounted for 45 touchdowns and almost 5,000 total yards. He took full advantage of the Stefon Diggs addition and peppered him with targets all season long. Diggs has some help now in veteran Emmanuel Sanders, who I don't feel like has as much left in the tank after playing with the Saints in 2020. Gabriel Davis came on towards the end of his rookie year and could play a bigger role. The run game was modestly disappointing, but the hope is that Zack Moss and Devin Singletary can keep teams more honest in 2021.
Defense: The front line has so much depth and talent, especially since Star Lotulelei is back after opting out last year. Buffalo drafted Miami star Greg Rousseau and is hoping A.J. Epenesa can improve from his rookie year. Those two are behind Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison up front. The linebackers should be strong once again with Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. The secondary is pretty stout with Tre'Davious White and Levi Wallace at corner and Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde at safety. This side of the ball didn't really sustain any big losses during free agency.
Schedule Notes: Buffalo gets the national spotlight on Thanksgiving as they play in New Orleans, which will give them extra time to prepare for the Patriots to start December. That contest starts a stretch of four of six at home to close out the 2021 campaign.
Prediction: Slight lean to the under, although it's not one of my favorite plays.
Related: Buffalo Bills Depth Chart
Miami Dolphins (Over 9.5 +115...Under 9.5 -135)
Division Champion Odds: +330
Offense: The success of this side of the ball is pinned to Tua Tagovailoa's improvement from a mediocre 2020. He had 11 touchdowns to five interceptions but was frequently replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who moved the offense as well. There's a modest safety net this year with Jacoby Brissett behind the former Alabama star, but if they have to turn to him, then the season could be lost already. Miami has stocked him with offensive weapons by adding Will Fuller V from the Texans and drafting former Crimson Tide teammate Jaylen Waddle. The backfield isn't exactly great with Myles Gaskin, Malcolm Brown, Salvon Ahmed, and Patrick Laird all in the mix. Luckily, Tua has a strong group of TEs led by Mike Gesicki.
Defense: The Fins had the No. 1 third-down defense last year and have a group that's pretty much intact outside of losing Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy. They added Jason McCourty to a secondary that features one of the best CB duos in Byron Jones and Xavien Howard. Howard was briefly unhappy during the offseason, but the team made some alterations to his contract. The front line doesn't have a ton of big names, but they still provided some pressure on the quarterback. The linebackers can be a bit exploitable as well, but Brian Flores has done such a good job with this side of the ball.
Schedule Notes: Miami will take on Jacksonville in London on Oct. 17 but will not get the customary bye week afterward. Instead, they'll host Atlanta the next week. The Dolphins' bye comes late in the season, and it's situated after a stretch with four home games over five weeks that includes a game against the Ravens on a Thursday night.
Prediction: Agree with the money move to the under. I'm not that big of a believer in Tua, but if you are, then you probably lean to the over.
Related: Miami Dolphins Depth Chart
New England Patriots (Over 9 -140...Under 9 +120)
Division Champion Odds: +360
Offense: Cam Newton and Mac Jones are vying for the starting quarterback job in Foxboro. Newton figures to get the early call as the veteran of this duo. He looked good in Week 2 of the preseason against the Eagles and has the mobility that Jones doesn't. The team is trying to recapture the two-TE sets of the past by adding both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They were top targets on their respective teams and figure to get plenty of looks by the signal-caller in New England. The running back group remains convoluted even after trading Sony Michel to the Rams with Damien Harris, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson, and J.J. Taylor all vying for touches. The WR room got a boost with the additions of Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, who will join N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.
Defense: This side of the ball got a major upgrade in free agency with Matt Judon (Ravens), Henry Anderson (Jets), Jalen Mills (Eagles), and Kyle Van Noy (Dolphins) all coming over. Raekwon McMillan (Raiders) also was part of the free-agent spending spree but he tore his ACL in training camp. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower is back after opting out last season, and he's the heartbeat of the unit. Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson form a solid secondary, with Devin McCourty back for his 12th season at safety. The front three in the 3-4 formation needs to get a little more pressure after Chase Winovich led the team with just 5.5 sacks.
Schedule Notes: The Pats have five of their first seven at home, including matchups against New Orleans, Dallas, and Tampa Bay. After that, the team gets four of six on the road. New England gets a late bye, which comes after a big Monday night affair with Buffalo in Orchard Park.
Prediction: Once again, the money move is right on the over, as I agree and think this could be a 10-win team if either QB works out.
Related: New England Patriots Depth Chart
New York Jets (Over 6 -115...Under 6 -105)
Division Champion Odds: +1600
Offense: Luckily for new QB Zach Wilson, Adam Gase will not be anywhere near him to ruin his career. The former BYU quarterback gets to work with Mike LaFleur, whose West Coast system should fit nicely with his strengths. If Wilson gets hurt, the offense goes down the tubes with Mike White, James Morgan, and Josh Johnson behind him. The team improved the WR corps with the addition of free-agent Corey Davis and second-rounder Elijah Moore. The running backs are a mediocre group with Tevin Coleman (FA), La'Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and rookie Michael Carter. The offensive line should be a strength though with the additions of Morgan Moses (FA) and Alijah Vera-Tucker (draft)
Defense: The loss of Carl Lawson (torn Achilles) in the preseason is a big one, as they had big plans for him. It's big that C.J. Mosley is healthy to be the quarterback of the defense. The front four has a solid presence in the middle with former Saint Sheldon Rankins and Quinnen Williams in Year 3 of what could be a long career. The secondary is very exploitable with Blessuan Austin and Bryce Hall leading a group that needs a lot of work. The safeties aren't bad, though, but they could be covering up a lot of mistakes by the CBs.
Schedule Notes: The Jets have just three home games through Halloween, which isn't the best for such a young team. They do get a home-friendly stretch afterward, with six of their final nine contests all at the Meadowlands. It's a last-place schedule, so there are plenty of opportunities for wins.
Prediction: Slight lean to the over, as I think this could be a six- or seven-win team if Wilson shows something. The problem is if he struggles early, this could be a three-win team.
Related: New York Jets Depth Chart