2013 NFL Regular Season Win Totals: AFC East

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I think I’ve been putting this division off because I didn’t know what to make of the Patriots. The rest of the division, what you see is what you get. Often criticized as one of the weakest overall divisions in the league, here is the AFC East.

For those of you new to this series, here are the first three parts of the column:
AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

New England Patriots // 2012 Record: 12-4, 1st AFC East
Key Additions: Danny Amendola, Leon Washington
Key Departures: Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead
2013 Win Total: 11 (Over +155, Under -175)

I could legitimately do an entire column on the Patriots’ offseason so far. Everything from Welker to Hernandez to Gronkowski, not to mention some guy named Tim Tebow. But in the interest of time, I’m going to assume you all know the basics. Most of the receiving threats on this team from 2012 are either not on the team anymore or injured. The stories haven’t stopped. Just yesterday Brady took a hit at training camp that started speculation on which backup would get first crack at the starting job. Luckily for all of New England, #12 was taking every rep possible at camp today.

As far as the line, I completely disagree. Basically the increased juice says New England is going 10-6 this year. The death of the Patriots offense has been greatly exaggerated. It’s still Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The AFC East is still awful. Sure, the AFC North and NFC South aren’t pushovers, and extra games against Denver and Houston add up to a difficult schedule. But the rookies on this team have been impressive. This is not like 2006 when Brady’s best receiver was Reche Caldwell, this team can and will move the ball. There’s no reason to believe they don’t go at least 11-5, and getting +155 on the over? That’s a steal.

New England has only had two seasons with less than 10 wins in the last 10 years, 2005 and 2009. That 2009 team was pretty bad. This team is better. At worst this is a push, at best you’re getting great odds against a top 3 team in the conference. Take the OVER.

Miami Dolphins // 2012 Record: 7-9, 2nd AFC East
Key Additions: Mike Wallace, Dannell Ellerbe, Brent Grimes
Key Departures: Reggie Bush, Karlos Dansby, Sean Smith
2013 Win Total: 8 (Over +120, Under -140)

The Dolphins are a very trendy pick this year. And for good reason, they spent a ton of money in an attempt to get competitive. Could they sneak into the 6 seed this year? It’s entirely possible. The more likely scenario is another 7-9 or 8-8 finish. I don’t think Mike Wallace is worth the money they spent. The defense is good enough but the offense won’t be able to put up points consistently. Early reports of a split between Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas at Running Back don’t exactly inspire confidence.

The schedule isn’t terribly difficult, which is why I wouldn’t put many units on a bet here. The start of the season is tough, with three road games and two home games against Atlanta and Baltimore, and when it seems to even out at bit when you remember the games against the Bills and Jets, interspersed are games against the Patriots, Steelers and at Tampa Bay.

If Miami is going to cover 8 games they’re going to have to beat every team they have a marginal edge over, and then steal a game or two with their defense, most likely at home. I just don’t see the appeal in this team, and I would rather not sweat out a bet in which the Dolphins have to win 9 games. Take the UNDER at -140.

Buffalo Bills // 2012 Record: 6-10, 4th AFC East
Key Additions: Alan Branch
Key Departures: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Donald Jones, David Nelson
2013 Win Total: 6 ½ (Over +135, Under -155)

My one friend who’s a Bills fan may kill me here, I’m not sure. I had to dig deep to come up with a good addition in free agency this year. They already have a good young team and rightfully weren’t interested in bringing in a ton of aging veterans. The big wild card is EJ Manuel, who by all indications should win the starting QB job. Obviously, CJ Spiller’s first year as the workhorse RB is something else to watch. But an underrated aspect of this team is the defense, from guys like Kyle Williams, Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus, to one of the best young corners in the league in Stephon Gilmore and return man Leodis McKelvin. This team can be up-tempo and exciting, but they need to prevent other teams from running up the score. The 2012 Bills gave up 35+ points in six games last year.

Starting and ending the year against the Patriots with no bye week until Thanksgiving is no easy task. Within the first half of the year, if the Bills can beat the Panthers, the Jets, and two out of three against the Browns, Bengals and Dolphins, they’ll be on their way to 7+ wins. I think 7-9 is easily attainable given everyone important stays healthy, something this team has had trouble with. I think the poor run defenses of the NFC South will result in shootouts, while the solid run defenses of the AFC North will produce some 13-to-7 sleeper games. This team is more talented than 6-10. Go OVER here.

New York Jets // 2012 Record: 6-10, 3rd AFC East
Key Additions: Chris Ivory
Key Departures: Darrelle Revis, Shonn Greene, David Garrard
2013 Win Total: 6 ½ (Over +140, Under -160)

What am I supposed to say here? I was all enthusiastic over the last three teams because there’s a lot to say. Here? The Jets are terrible. To this point they have done nothing to suggest they won’t be terrible this year, unless Geno Smith gets healthy and takes the starting QB job away from Mark Sanchez.

I don’t know who either of those guys will throw to. Their best receiver is either Braylon Edwards or Jeremy Kerley. Chris Ivory may be the biggest upgrade in the offseason and he was 4th on the Saints’ RB depth chart last year. I think you could put out all of Antonio Cromartie’s kids out there and field a better team. I think it’s a minor miracle that the 2012 Jets got to 6 wins, beating Indy, St. Louis, Arizona, Jacksonville, and getting a 1-1 split with Buffalo and Miami.

The first half of the schedule is absolutely brutal for this bad Jets team. Tampa, at New England, Buffalo, at Tennessee, at Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New England, at Cincinnati, New Orleans. They may not win more than one of those. After the week 10 bye, it gets easier, at Buffalo, at Baltimore, Miami, Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami.

The line and juice is not an accident. 6-10 seems likely. I usually don’t like -160 picks, but do you want to be sitting there in week 16 when the Jets are 5-9 needing them to win out to cover this bet? Take the UNDER.

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