For the first time in over a decade, the AFC East was won by somebody other than the New England Patriots. Sean McDermott’s Buffalo Bills lit the NFL on fire in 2020, with youngster quarterback Josh Allen taking one of the biggest steps forward in recent history. The Bills were the pre-season favorite to repeat as division champions, but the Dolphins are also a popular playoff pick. Questions surround the Patriots, who pushed all their chips in the middle for this coming season. The AFC East is built with young rosters and upstart coaches like McDermott, Brian Flores, and Robert Saleh.
The horizon is bright for most teams in the division for 2021 and beyond.
This page will provide information needed to successfully bet the AFC East in 2021, complete with a 2020 recap, a lookahead to 2021, and where to bet on the AFC East.
2021 AFC East odds
2020 AFC East Results
As mentioned, the Buffalo Bills brought home the division crown in 2020, the first team since 2008 to unseat the Patriots. Josh Allen became one of the hottest players in the league, improving his completion percentage by a staggering 11 points and tossing 37 touchdowns (fifth). Sean McDermott has earned his respect in the league, improving the Bills to a franchise-best 13 wins and securing his third playoff berth in four seasons. Newly-acquired star receiver Stefon Diggs also saw an explosion in production, where he led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards. Buffalo found themselves in their first AFC Championship Game since 1994, but were bested by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Another coach who continued to establish himself as one of the best in the NFL is Brian Flores, who led the Miami Dolphins to their first 10-win season since 2016. The 10 wins came in spite of having a rotation at quarterback between Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tua Tagovailoa (who didn’t quite live up to the first-year hype). Miami ranked top-10 in both defensive efficiency and pass defense efficiency thanks to one of the best cornerback tandems in the league – Byron Jones and Xavien Howard. However, Miami’s season was marred by them missing out on the expanded AFC playoff field, becoming just the fourth 10-win team to miss the playoffs.
New England Patriots fans’ worries came to fruition in New England’s first season without Tom Brady in 20 seasons. Bill Belichick missed out on the playoffs for just the fourth time in his Patriots career and the offense ground to a halt. Criticisms of the franchise’s tightfistedness came to the forefront of Patriots talk as it became apparent that the Pats had no weapons to rely on. The Cam Newton experiment was largely a dud and even their strong defense wasn’t enough to save their season. When the final bell sounded, the Patriots finished 27th in points per game (20.4) and they finished sub .500 for the first time since Belichick’s first year as head coach.
Optimism surrounded the New York Jets before the season began, optimism that was quickly dashed as fans realized the level of ineptitude of Adam Gase. After just a few weeks, the Jets looked like heir apparents to the first overall pick. However, a couple late-season wins moved them out of the first spot despite the clear motive to tank. Gase was canned and the nightmare season for the Jets finally ended. They settled for the second overall pick in the draft, missing out on a potentially-generational talent in Trevor Lawrence.
2021 AFC East outlook and predictions
Moving into 2021, the Bills have some of the highest expectations, with their odds to win the Super Bowl at . The road to a Lombardi trophy is particularly tough in the AFC, with the Bills having to contend with the Chiefs, Ravens, and upstart teams like the Browns. Josh Allen is expected to continue his MVP-caliber play under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Daboll was feared to be departing the team for a head coaching job, but was passed on this offseason. Most of the roster survived free agency and Buffalo appears to be ready to reload. It’s no surprise that the Bills are strong favorites to repeat as AFC East champs at .
Past year’s moves benefitted the Dolphins with multiple first-round picks, where they drafted Alabama star Jaylen Waddle and Miami pass rusher Jaelan Phillips. They also landed Will Fuller in free agency, successfully addressing most of their 2020 weaknesses. Miami is expected to be a contender this coming season under Flores, but sits at to win the AFC East. The evolution of Tagovailoa is imperative to their success, as Miami lacks a veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick to lean on should Tua not shape out.
Nobody addressed their 2020 criticisms quite like the Patriots. Not only did they outspend anyone else in the NFL on free agents in 2021, but they signed five new pass catchers (headlined by Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Nelson Agholor). Money also poured in on defense, where they signed Matt Judon and Jalen Mills, among others. Seeing Tom Brady make off with a Super Bowl in his first year away from Belichick clearly lit a fire somewhere. The Patriots are not to be ignored this season, despite standing to win the division.
It’s a new direction for the Jets after a few frustrating years under Adam Gase. Robert Saleh is the new head coach, Zach Wilson is the new quarterback, and some serious money went into free agents. Saleh has been praised by his peers for several years and for the first time in a while, it feels like a culture change in New York. Oddsmakers remain bearish on what 2021 will look like for the Jets, with them still slated at to have the worst record in the NFL.
Past AFC East division winners
|2019||New England Patriots||12-4|
|2018||New England Patriots*||11-5|
|2017||New England Patriots||13-3|
|2016||New England Patriots*||14-2|
|2015||New England Patriots||12-4|
|2014||New England Patriots*||12-4|
|2013||New England Patriots||12-4|
|2012||New England Patriots||12-4|
|2011||New England Patriots||13-3|
|2010||New England Patriots||14-2|
*Super Bowl champion
How to bet on NFL division winners
To reiterate advice given here, shop around before diving headlong into the first bet you see; different outlets offer different odds and a minute or two of your time could result in some more money coming your way.
When reading an odds table, there’s several numbers of note. The first is the odds, which tells you who is favored (lower numbers are favored) and how much a successful bet would earn you. For example, a $100 bet on Miami (+325) would win you $120 with a total payout of $425. Next is the handle, which tells you what percentage of the total amount bet on the AFC North division winner each team commands. For example, the Patriots have 9% of the handle – meaning 9% of all money bet on the AFC East winner has gone to the Patriots. Last is the percentage of bets, which refers to the number of bets – not the amount– wagered on each team. The Bills have 82% of all bets, which doesn’t reflect how much was bet (the Bills have 67% of the handle, meaning smaller betting amounts are being placed on the Bills).
NFL division betting previews
|AFC East||NFC East|
|AFC North||NFC North|
|AFC South||NFC South|
|AFC West||NFC West|