NFL Betting Odds: AFC East Predictions 2019

Date | AuthorDanny Vorgs

Last Updated: 2019-08-11

2018, another year, another Super Bowl and yet another season of domination for the New England Patriots within the AFC East. Last season the Pats won their 10th straight AFC East Division crown and their 16th of 19 possible the young century. By the looks of things, New England appears set to repeat once more as division champs as neither the Jets, Dolphins, or Bills seem strong enough to knock them off their pedestal. However, as we all know, anything can happen in the NFL. All of the AFC East teams were well previewed in detail by none other than Adam Burke himself and can be found here.

All the NFL previews examined the current spread for the 16 upcoming games for each team this season and applied the metric of expected win percentage to each of these lines to arrive at an implied wins total. This number could then be compared to the posted win total for each team. While we certainly know that a lot can (and will) change for all of these teams between late June and say a mid-December game in Week 15, it is a useful exercise to see how each team compares to one another at this stage assuming ideal circumstances for both teams.

As many readers likely know, I maintain a model for the NFL which creates a spread and total for each game that I rely on heavily in my handicapping and writing here at BTB. Therefore, for this series of articles, we thought it would be useful to apply my model spreads to the current lines and implied win totals listed at CG Technologies. As usual, some of these numbers will be in line with Vegas expectations while others will not. For each team, we’ll try to see why we agree or isolate the possible reasons for our divergence.

New England Patriots

(Lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
(Personal NFL model lines based on expected starting Week 1 lineup as of July 19, 2019)

Week Opponent CG Tech. Line Expected Wins NFL Model Line Expected Wins
1 Pittsburgh (Sunday Night) -6 .71 -7.5 .78
2 @ Miami -8.5 .80 -6.5 .72
3 NY Jets -10 .84 -12.5 .89
4 @ Buffalo -6.5 .72 -7.5 .78
5 @ Washington -6.5 .72 -7 .75
6 NY Giants (Thursday Night) -11 .87 -11.5 .88
7 @ NY Jets (Monday Night) -4.5 .67 -5.5 .69
8 Cleveland -8.5 .80 -8 .79
9 @ Baltimore -2.5 .55 -5 .68
10 BYE
11 @ Philadelphia +1 .49 pk .50
12 Dallas -6 .71 -7.5 .78
13 @ Houston -3 .59 -.5 .50
14 Kansas City -3 .59 -3.5 .64
15 @ Cincinnati -7 75 -3 .59
16 Buffalo -13 .89 -14 .92
17 Miami -14.5 .95 -14.5 .95

Win Total (CG Technologies): 11 (Over -145 / Under +125)
Expected Wins (CG Technologies): 11.65
Expected Wins (Personal NFL Model): 11.84

What is there to say about Belichick, Brady, and the Patriots that hasn’t already been said? With nearly 2 decades of dominance under their belts and the best claim to the greatest dynasty in NFL history, what roadblocks exist that could prevent the Pats from continuing to add to their extensive legacy in 2019?

Don’t look to the other members of the AFC East for answers. For the past 20 years, the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets have proven themselves unable to solve the Belichick/Brady riddle as they’ve accumulated 16 division championships in that time period. This is reflected by their -600 price to win the East.

Player loss? Maybe but unlikely. 4-time All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski was a matchup nightmare whose retirement certainly leaves a hole that cannot be fully replaced by new tight ends Ben Watson and Matt LaCosse. Yet, it’s not as if the Pats haven’t been able to navigate the loss of other key offensive skill position players such as Randy Moss, Wes Welker, or Aaron Hernandez before. The loss of T Trent Brown would be concerning had the Pats not planned ahead by drafting Isiah Wynn in the 1st round last year. Likewise, the Pats replaced DE Tre Flowers with Micheal Bennett whose 9 sacks last season showed he remains a quality defensive player. Belichick has proven time and again that he and the organization are ahead of the curve and can transition to different offensive schemes and still be successful.

The age of Tom Brady has been a talking point for a few years now, could this be the season of his decline? Possible. As I mentioned in last year’s Super Bowl preview, Brady’s PFF scores have declined ever so slightly the past three years. Still, he finished the season as their #4 rated passer and his deep passing statistics (an indicator of decline in older QBs) remain above average compared to his peers. Additionally, Brady’s cerebral presence has enabled him to mask any physical decline he may have experienced thus far. While Father Time will ultimately win, I am personally done betting against Brady’s decline until it is clearly visible on the field and supported by the numbers. It’s likely Tom Brady will gracefully retire before we see that.

Currently, the NFL model places New England in the #2 position overall with less than a ½ point gap between themselves and the top team New Orleans. This identifies them as a complete team which is evidenced by their #2 rank in total offense and #3 rank in total defense according to the model. They have the undisputed top coach, a talent-laden roster, and a schedule that nearly assures them of at least 8 wins. Assuming the Pats can at split the remaining games they appear set for 12 wins this season. While the over is a bit pricey, they need to have 10 or fewer wins in 2019 to lose the bet and that’s only happened three times in Belichick’s tenure. Therefore take the over 11 and enjoy B and B continue to demonstrate their greatness. It can’t continue forever. Can it?

 

New York Jets

(Lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
(Personal NFL model lines based on expected starting Week 1 lineup as of July 19, 2019)

Week Opponent CG Tech. Line Expected Wins NFL Model Line Expected Wins
1 Buffalo -3.5 .64 -4.5 .67
2 Cleveland (Monday Night) pk .50 +.5 .50
3 @ New England +10 .16 +12.5 .11
4 BYE
5 @ Philadelphia +7.5 .22 +8.5 .20
6 Dallas +2 .46 +1 .49
7 New England (Monday Night) +4.5 .33 +5.5 .31
8 @ Jacksonville +4 .34 +5 .32
9 @ Miami pk .50 +2 .46
10 NY Giants -3.5 .64 -3 .59
11 @ Washington +2.5 .45 +1.5 .47
12 Oakland -3 .59 -4.5 .67
13 @ Cincinnati +1.5 .47 +5 .32
14 Miami -6 .71 -5 .68
15 @ Baltimore (Thursday Night) +5.5 .31 +3.5 .36
16 Pittsburgh +1.5 .47 +.5 .50
17 @ Buffalo +2.5 .45 +1 .49

Win Total (CG Technologies): 7 (Over -150 / Under +130)
Expected Wins (CG Technologies): 7.24
Expected Wins (Personal NFL Model): 7.14

After 3 straight losing seasons under HC Todd Bowles, the Jets decided to move on to new head coach Adam Gase. While Gase has been mocked by the media and Jets fans alike, he does bring a knowledge of the division, a solid 10-8 record against those divisional foes while in Miami, and the reputation as an excellent quarterback tutor. Although Gase wasn’t able to make much of Ryan Tannehill during his time in Miami, he was able to get decent returns out of some questionable signal-callers such as Tim Tebow as well as win a Super Bowl with a Peyton Manning who was clearly on his last leg.

Despite the spotty returns of late, the Jets are hitching their wagon to Gase as the man to mold 2nd year QB, Sam Darnold. Darnold showed promise in his 1st professional season but was largely underwhelming in most traditional statistical categories where he landed in the low 20s to high 30s across the board and earned a grade of 64.7 from PFF (29th). Besides his inexperience, other factors working against Darnold in 2019 included the 2nd rated slate of defenses with regard to overall efficiency, a high number of injuries to his skill position players, and a poor offensive line. To aid Darnold, the Jets brought in the well-rested RB Le’Veon Bell. Little needs to be said of Bell’s abilities and he will clearly have something to prove this season. Bell along with a solid trio of WRs in Quincy Enunwa, Robbie Anderson, and Jamison Crowder as well as ascending TE Chris Herndon give Darnold a solid collection of skill position pieces to improve upon. Despite signing G Kelechi Osemele from Oakland, the Jet offensive line remains a weakness coming in 28th according to the model.

The Jets used the draft and free agency to add to some nice pieces already in place on defense. 1st round pick DE Quinnen Williams and 3rd rounder OLB Jachai Polite will pair with DE Leonard Williams and newly signed LB CJ Mosley to form a good Front 7 with upside. Stud 3rd-year safeties Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams help make the secondary (8th according to the model) the strength of the defense.

According to Warren Sharp, the Jets are slated to play a challenging schedule with regard to opposing defenses but an easier collection of opposing offenses. The model currently has this defense listed 14th overall but there certainly appears to be room for improvement with this young group. Given these circumstances, this could be a solid under team this year, at least early on, as the defense flourishes and the offense struggles mainly due to a tough schedule of defenses and the poor offensive line. My number places the Jets win total right around the betting number of 7. To hit the over they will need some upsets however most of their tougher opposition comes early on in the year when they’re transitioning to a new staff and system. 7 seems about right but given the plus money on the under I’ll lean under 7 wins for the Jets in 2019.

 

Buffalo Bills

(Lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
(Personal NFL model lines based on expected starting Week 1 lineup as of July 19, 2019)

Week Opponent CG Tech. Line Expected Wins NFL Model Line Expected Wins
1 @ NY Jets +3.5 .36 +4.5 .33
2 @ NY Giants +3 .41 +2.5 .45
3 Cincinnati -4 .66 -.5 .50
4 New England +6.5 .28 +7.5 .22
5 @ Tennessee +5 .32 +7 .25
6 BYE
7 Miami -4.5 .67 -3 .59
8 Philadelphia +3 .41 +3 .41
9 Washington -3.5 .64 -2.5 .55
10 @ Cleveland +7 .25 +7.5 .22
11 @ Miami +2.5 .45 +3.5 .36
12 Denver -3 .59 -.5 .50
13 @ Dallas +7.5 .22 +6.5 .28
14 Baltimore +1 .49 -1 .51
15 @ Pittsburgh +7 .25 +8 .21
16 @ New England +13 .11 +14 .08
17 NY Jets -2.5 .55 -1 .49

Win Total (CG Technologies): 7 (Over -125 / Under +105)
Expected Wins (CG Technologies): 6.66
Expected Wins (Personal NFL Model): 5.95

Despite winning a playoff game the previous year, the Buffalo Bills entered the 2018 season, as the lowest-ranked overall team according to the NFL model. We parlayed that into a couple of fades of the Bills early on and was able to cash. Yet as the season continued, the Bills were able to turn things around and collect wins in 4 of their final 7 games. Will this late-season momentum continue into 2019? If you believe in the collective wisdom of markets, the answer would be a solid yes as the Buffalo Bills win total went from 6 wins at the open, to 6.5, and now currently sits at 7 with the over juiced at CG Technologies and other shops.

The impetus for their midseason improvement could likely be best attributed to the play of rookie QB Josh Allen. In the 1st 6 games of the season, Allen had a completion percentage of 53% and a quarterback rating of around 60. While his completion percentage continued to be an issue throughout the year, when Allen returned in Week 12 from injury, his numbers showed improvement as his quarterback rating increased and most importantly, his rushing numbers rose dramatically. In fact, a fair number of the Bills most successful plays in various down and distance situations last season were Allen runs. Although it is certainly not advisable to rely on QB runs too heavily, the 2018 Bills found success using this strategy and it is likely to remain an important part of his usage given his struggles with accuracy. The Bills appear to have shifted to quicker receivers this offseason in an effort to offset his throwing difficulties by bringing in speedster John Brown and shifty slot WR Cole Beasley. It seems the idea here is to create greater separation and larger throwing windows for Allen. That’s all well and good however an effective running game would likely benefit Allen more and last season their RBs averaged just 3.0 YPC. Adding the ageless Frank Gore with LeSean McCoy does make the Bills backfield the most expensive in the league however two costly 30-year-old RBs will not put fear into opposing defenses. Altogether, the Bills skill position talent comes in at a weak 29th overall. Buffalo added two solid pieces to their offensive line in C Mitch Morse and former Redskins swing tackle Ty Nsekhe this offseason. They will pair with talented third-year tackle Dion Dawkins however the guards are below average players. The Bill O-line lists 24th according to the model.

HC Sean McDermott is a defensive coach and currently that side of the ball projects as the more talented unit. The model ranks Buffalo’s Front 7 a solid 16th overall and they boost some excellent players in DE Jerry Hughes and DT Lorenzo Alexander as well as 1st round pick DT Ed Oliver. 3rd year LB Matt Milano is a notable, gritty player backstopping the talented defensive line. Like their division rival, the NY Jets, the Bills also roster a pretty solid pair of safeties in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. Hyde listed as PFF’s 6th ranked safety last season. A rather young and inexpensive group of corners includes players who have flashed productive years in their careers and provide an upside to the secondary which currently sits at 25th but could certainly improve over the course of the year.

Last season’s late-year surge by the Bills coincided with the easier part of their schedule as they only played one team (New England) after Week 9 which finished 2018 with a winning record. My assumption here is that Bills backers are looking toward the schedule again as Warren Sharp projects Buffalo to play the 27th ranked set of offenses and a 26th listed group of defenses in 2019. Given the schedule, I could potentially see a path to 7 wins for the Bills but this appears to be their ceiling from my perspective as they currently sit as the 29th overall team according to the NFL model. Given the below-average overall talent on this team and that the young passer Allen’s issue is… PASSING and this is a PASSING league I’m going to play the plus money and under 7 wins for the Bills in 2019.

 

Miami Dolphins

(Lines Weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
(Personal NFL model lines based on expected starting Week 1 lineup as of July 19, 2019)

Week Opponent CG Tech. Line Expected Wins NFL Model Line Expected Wins
1 Baltimore +4 .34 pk .50
2 New England +8.5 .20 +6.5 .28
3 @ Dallas +9 .19 +7 .25
4 LA Chargers +6 .29 +4.5 .33
5 BYE
6 Washington -1 .51 -1.5 .53
7 @ Buffalo +4.5 .33 +3 .41
8 @ Pittsburgh +10 .16 +8.5 .20
9 NY Jets pk .50 -2 .54
10 @ Indianapolis +9.5 .19 +12 .11
11 Buffalo -2.5 .55 -3.5 .64
12 @ Cleveland +8 .21 +8 .21
13 Philadelphia +4 .34 +4 .34
14 @ NY Jets +6 .29 +5 .32
15 @ NY Giants +3 .41 +3 .41
16 Cincinnati -1.5 .47 +.5 .50
17 @ New England +14.5 .05 +14.5 .05

Win Total (CG Technologies): 5 (Over +120 / Under -140)
Expected Wins (CG Technologies): 5.03
Expected Wins (Personal NFL Model): 5.62

On paper, the 2018 Dolphins 7-9 record and a 2nd place finish in the AFC East would seem like at least a fair season and not necessarily indicative of a full teardown and rebuild. Yet a closer look at last season’s Miami Dolphins shows just how deceiving that record was. According to the Pythagorean Wins metric, the 2018 Dolphins should have earned 4.55 wins, 2.45 more than their record reflected and the largest difference between Pythagorean wins and actual wins in the NFL. Additionally, they finished 30th in point differential (-114) and went on an improbable 7-1 in one-score games.

To their credit, the Dolphins front office was not misled by their record last season and made wholesale changes to the organization. New HC Brain Flores was plucked from the Patriots where he worked in scouting and defense since the age of 23 while new OC Chad O’Shea also came over from the Pats as well. In the offseason, the team shed the contracts of a number of expensive veterans and loaded up on picks for the 2020 draft. One of their more clever transactions this offseason was the acquisition of 2nd year QB Josh Rosen. Rosen’s numbers were admittedly terrible last season but so was his situation. While his offensive line and skill position talent will likely be just as bad in Miami this year as it was in Arizona, the Dolphins have at least provided themselves with the opportunity to kick the tires of a young, highly touted QB for only $6.3 million over the next three years. This then enables the team to decide where they want to go in next year’s QB rich draft.

As you would likely expect, the model views the 2019 Dolphins poorly although not quite as poorly as the current season spreads would indicate. Rated as the 31st team overall the model lists the Dolphins as favorites in just three games this season (plus a surprising pick’em in Week 1 against Baltimore). In the categories of skill personnel, offensive line, and front 7 the NFL model places the Dolphins in the bottom quarter of the league. Of those units, only WR Devante Parker, T Laremy Tunsil, RB Kenyan Drake, and LB Jerome Baker project as non-rookie, long term contributors to this rebuilding team. Currently the bright spot for the Fins is the secondary where they come in 15th. With stand out safeties Minkah Fitzpatrick and Reshad Jones as well as young CB Xavien Howard this will be the strength of the defense however without a strong pass rush they will be asked to provide coverage for a longer period of time than other NFL secondaries.

From his 12 NFL seasons, we know what Ryan Fitzpatrick is; a serviceable quarterback capable of having some flashy moments who eventually turns the ball over too much and hurts his team. We saw first hand what Josh Rosen is last year when he has below average talent around him. Given these two options at quarterback and a generally poor overall roster, 2019 looks bleak for Dolphins fans. Miami does have a fairly good HFA, especially early in the season when it’s still hot in South Florida and the Fins could possibly steal a win or 2 as they play 4 of their first 5 at home. This could engender a positive locker room and propel Miami to a scrappy 5 or 6 win season. The more likely scenario, however, sees them being unable to pull a few upsets early and poor moral snowballing into a 2 or 3 win season as they finish up with 7 of the final 11 on the road. The market is pointing toward the latter scenario and I would tend to agree. The play for 2019 is under 5 although a solid draft or two could quickly pay dividends in this weak division for years to come.

(Editor’s note: As the division previews get posted throughout the week, we’ll link to them at the bottom of the page. Read Danny’s thoughts on the AFC NORTH, AFC SOUTH, AFC WEST, NFC EAST, NFC NORTHNFC SOUTH, and NFC West by clicking the appropriate link.)

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