It's getting repetitive talking about the New England Patriots and their chances of winning the AFC East. Things go wrong for this team, yet you can count on them to win the division. They'll have to do without Tom Brady for the first four games of the season, but luckily for them three are at home. The Jets figure to be the biggest challenger to the throne, but can they score enough on offense? The Bills and Dolphins seemingly remain stagnant despite trying to make moves in the offseason.
Much like I did with the college football win totals, I will break down the schedules in terms of home and road opponents outside the division. In most situations, I'll give a split to each team in divisional play with them winning at home and losing on the road. Vegas is much more on the ball in the NFL compared to college football so the numbers are a lot sharper.
Note: Over/under odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook
(Over 8 wins -110, Under 8 wins -110)
Record Last Year: 8-8
Offense: A lot of the same important pieces are back once again led by QB Tyrod Taylor, who just got paid by the Bills. Taylor had a very good season and was complemented nicely by LeSean McCoy on the ground. Karlos Williams is out the first four games so Reggie Bush was brought in to see if he has anything left. Sammy Watkins' health is going to be important because he's their best weapon on the outside.
Defense: Buffalo went young in the draft, but unfortunately they lost Reggie Ragland for the year and Shaq Lawson for possibly half of it. They each figured to be a vital piece to the defensive puzzle. Up front, tackle Marcell Dareus is coming off a bit of a down year with just two sacks in 15 games. Their secondary is pretty solid with Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore back at CB.
Schedule: The Bills have a later bye in Week 10. They have a home matchup against New England followed by a road tilt with Seattle before then. Down the stretch, Buffalo has three straight at home, including a Week 16 game against Miami, which will be out of its element in the cold.
Prediction: Eight is a very good number as I came up with the same thing during my schedule run-through. This is a very tough schedule even with the late, three-game homestand. Getting the NFC West in crossover play will make a difference in this division.
(Over 7 wins -105, Under 7 wins -115)
Record Last Year: 6-10
Offense: I thought last year was going to be a breakout year for Ryan Tannehill and was unfortunately wrong. The quarterback just hasn't taken the steps to improve as a signal-caller. He knows that Jarvis Landry will be open, as evidenced by early reports out of camp which show the two building chemistry. The interesting battle will be at RB where Jay Ajayi tries to hold off veteran Arian Foster.
Defense: For some reason, this team traded for Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell. The secondary is a mess with Tony Lippett also in the mix. Of course, it's all on the front line – Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake, Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell. If they can get pressure on the QB, then the weaknesses in the back end will be hidden. Problem is that Suh just hasn't been the same since signing that record-breaking contract.
Schedule: The Dolphins may have the friendliest stretch of games in the NFL as they don't leave Miami from Weeks 5-9 with a bye mixed in there. The problems come early though with this team having to travel to Seattle, New England and Cincinnati in three of the first four weeks. The team has to play at New York and Buffalo later on in December when it will be cold.
Prediction: I lean to the under here. Rookie head coach Adam Gase has a lot of problems to deal with in Miami. I want to believe in Tannehill, but he's got to give me a reason to. Foster could be effective, but only for a few games. The defense has name-brand talent, but they've failed to put it all together. I think this could be a long year for the Dolphins.
(Over 11 wins +107, Under 11 wins -137)
Record Last Year: 12-4
Offense: Get to know Jimmy Garoppolo as Tom Brady's suspension sits at four games. The young quarterback gets the keys to the offense with Rob Gronkowski leading the way. The tight end figures to get a lot of work as Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis work their way back to 100 percent. Tight end Martellus Bennett comes over from Chicago and should represent an intriguing pawn for coordinator Josh McDaniels to move around.
Defense:Linemen Terrance Knighton and Chris Long come over as veteran additions to an already solid group. Rob Ninkovich tore his triceps, but was seen at practice with a helmet on so who knows how serious that injury was. Continuity is the name of the game on this side of the ball as a lot of the names on the depth chart are back after last season with the notable exception of sack leader Chandler Jones, who was traded to Arizona in the offseason.
Schedule: The Pats have three of their first four at home with the toughest game of the group being the opener at Arizona. New England has a stretch of three road games over four weeks before their Week 9 bye. The best game of the season may be when they host the Seahawks in Week 10, but they get some extra time to prepare.
Prediction: The over at this price is worth a look. I think some are down on the offense with Garoppolo under center, but I'm still seeing a 3-1 start. I said it last year and it still rings true that I won't bet against Brady and Belichick especially when it matters.
(Over 8 wins +135, Under 8 wins -155)
Record Last Year: 10-6
Offense: Ryan Fitzpatrick finally joined the fold, giving Jets fans hope for this coming season. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker become legitimate targets now. Running back Matt Forte comes over from Chicago, but he's not the same guy that he used to be. Bilal Powell carved out a nice little role for himself as a pass-catching back.
Defense: Darrelle Revis stabilizes the secondary although he is entering his 11th season. Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson should help get some pressure up front as the linebacker corps is just alright. I trust head coach Todd Bowles to get this group going and hold up its end of the bargain.
Schedule: The Jets play four of their first six on the road including the Steelers and Cardinals back-to-back in Weeks 5-6. The team hopes to stay healthy in spite of having to navigate a Week 11 bye. Right after the break the Jets host the Patriots and Colts as part of a stretch of four home games in six.
Prediction: No feel either way for New York. I think the Jets will take a step back on defense while the offense should continue to be successful. The schedule is really tough.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.