Over the past two decades, the New England Patriots have redefined what it means to dominate a division with 17 AFC East titles, and 11 straight since 2009.
Eventually, something has to give, and with Tom Brady departed to sunny Tampa Bay, sportsbooks are beginning to predict the end of New England’s run atop the AFC East. Pundits might have expected the Pats to sign Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, or another established veteran, but Bill Belichick seems content to try and continue his legacy with Jarrett Stidham at the controls.
The Buffalo Bills opened with +160 odds to win the division at DraftKings Sportsbook and the Patriots led the way with +100 odds. The Bills moved up steadily throughout the offseason and now sit at +130 odds ahead of the Patriots (+140) at DK, although the Pats (+120) still hold a slight edge over the Bills (+130) at FanDuel Sportsbook. Hard Rock, Caesars, and 888 Sportsbook all have Buffalo slightly ahead of the Pats in the Futures market. The Jets and Dolphins are both long-shots to win the division with +700 odds at DK.
Bills offseason breakdown
While Buffalo hasn’t won the division since 1995, Sean McDermott’s squad came relatively close last year after opening the season with +950 odds to win the AFC East. The Bills blazed past their projected win total (7) to go 10-6 behind a defense that allowed the second-fewest PPG (16.5) and second fewest TDs per game (1.9) in the NFL.
This year Buffalo should be more competent offensively after trading for Stefon Diggs, and that defense looks even more fierce on paper. The Bills drafted stud DE A.J. Epenesa in the second round to replace Shaq Lawson, bolstered their LB corps with Mario Addison and A.J. Klein, and took a gamble on 32-year-old CB Josh Norman, who could pair very nicely opposite shutdown force Tre’Davious White.
The Bills won five of their first six games last season and went 6-1-2 against the spread (ATS) on the road. They twice came close to beating the Patriots before a concussion knocked Josh Allen out of the first meeting and Allen missed an easy TD throw that would’ve forced OT in Week 16.
|1||Sunday, Sept. 13||1:00 ET||vs. NY Jets||Bills -6|
|2||Sunday, Sept. 20||1:00 ET||at Miami||Bills -3|
|3||Sunday, Sept. 27||1:00 ET||vs. LA Rams||Rams -2.5|
|4||Sunday, Oct. 4||4:25 ET||at Las Vegas||Bills -1|
|5||Sunday, Oct. 11||1:00 ET||at Tennessee||Bills -.5|
|6||Thursday, Oct. 15||8:20 ET||vs. Kansas City||Chiefs -4.5|
|7||Sunday, Oct. 25||1:00 ET||at NY Jets||Bills -3.5|
|8||Sunday, Nov. 1||1:00 ET||vs. New England||Bills -1.5|
|9||Sunday, Nov. 8||1:00 ET||vs. Seattle||Bills -1|
|10||Sunday, Nov. 15||4:05 ET||at Arizona||Bills -2.5|
|12||Sunday, Nov. 29||1:00 ET||vs. LA Chargers||N/A|
|13||Monday, Dec. 7||8:15 ET||at San Francisco||49ers -6|
|14||Sunday, Dec. 13||8:20 ET||vs. Pittsburgh||Bills -2.5|
|15||Sunday, Dec. 20||TBD||at Denver||Broncos -1|
|16||Monday, Dec. 28||8:15 ET||at New England||Patriots -2|
|17||Sunday, Jan. 3||1:00 ET||vs. Miami||N/A
Patriots offseason breakdown
The Pats didn’t just lose their legendary QB, their defense was absolutely gutted as well with LBs Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy walking in free agency. They used a third round pick on LB Anfernee Jennings to fill some of that void, but there will likely be some growing pains early for Belichick’s defense.
The schedule does the Patriots few favors with early trips to Seattle and KC on the docket, before they face the 49ers, Bills, Ravens, and Texans in a five-week span after their bye. Stidham might prove to be worth the faith of his coaching staff, yet he’ll have sparse weaponry to work with other than Julian Edelman. In head-to-head matchups with the Bills, the Pats will likely struggle to run the ball or complete sideline throws against a secondary that dominated throughout last season.
|1||Sunday, Sept. 13||1:00 ET||vs. Miami||Patriots -6.5|
|2||Sunday, Sept. 20||8:20 ET||at Seattle||Seahawks -3.5|
|3||Sunday, Sept. 27||1:00 ET||vs. Las Vegas||Patriots -5|
|4||Sunday, Oct. 4||4:25 ET||at Kansas City||Chiefs -8|
|5||Sunday, Oct. 11||1:00 ET||vs. Denver||Patriots -5|
|7||Sunday, Oct. 25||4:25 ET||vs. San Francisco||49ers -2|
|8||Sunday, Nov. 1||1:00 ET||at Buffalo||Bills -1.5|
|9||Monday, Nov. 9||8:15 ET||at NY Jets||Patriots -4|
|10||Sunday, Nov. 15||8:20 ET||vs. Baltimore||Ravens -3.5|
|11||Sunday, Nov. 22||1:00 ET||at Houston||Patriots -1.5|
|12||Sunday, Nov. 29||1:00 ET||vs. Arizona||Patriots -7|
|13||Sunday, Dec. 6||4:25 ET||at LA Chargers||Patriots -2.5|
|14||Thursday, Dec. 10||8:20 ET||at LA Rams||Rams -1|
|15||Sunday, Dec. 20||1:00 ET||at Miami||Patriots -5.5|
|16||Monday, Dec. 28||8:15 ET||vs. Buffalo||Patriots -2|
|17||Sunday, Jan. 3||1:00 ET||vs. NY Jets||TBD|
Futures odds and conclusions
Due to their lack of playoff pedigree, the Bills still trail the Pats (+1200) with +1300 odds to win the AFC Championship. Buffalo’s Super Bowl odds at DK are up from +3500 to +2800 and New England’s odds are down from +1400 to +2500 after a lackluster offseason.
The Pats have moved from a projected win total of 9.5 down to 8.5 (-130) at DK sportsbook and the Bills are down from a projected total of 9 wins to 8.5 with the same odds at DK. At FanDuel, the Pats are getting -145 odds to go Under 9 wins, indicating the difficulty of their schedule. It’s hard to imagine New England securing another division crown with an 8-8 record.