We know that the Patriots have run roughshod over the AFC East since 2001 and it's likely to continue this season. However, will the Jets or Dolphins finish second? Can Buffalo surprise? Here's a look at each teams NFL odds for a finish of No. 1-4.
New England Patriots
NFL odds: first -340, second +350, third +1200, fourth +2800.
It's a good thing that a team's first exhibition game means almost nothing because the Patriots looked terrible in their opening 23-6 loss at the Washington Redskins. Tom Brady and most of New England's starters didn't play at all. One minor concern is that projected No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett didn't look great and he might be falling out of favor with the coaching staff. Brady has been incredibly durable other than that 2008 Week 1 injury so perhaps it won't matter, but the Pats can't feel too comfortable with Mallett or 2014 second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo in there during the regular season. As long as Brady plays in 14 of the 16 regular-season games, the Patriots should finish first regardless of whether oft-injured Rob Gronkowski can stay on the field.
NFL odds: first +650, second +180, third +200, fourth +250
Ryan Tannehill did look sharp in his limited action in the preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons and really this season is all about whether he can take a big leap in Year 3 of his career. Tannehill threw for 3,913 yards and 24 touchdowns last year, but the Dolphins lack much big-play ability; he averaged just 6.81 yards per attempt. The running backs are blah -- Knowshon Moreno looks like a bust signing so far -- and so are the receivers. The team would gladly give away overpriced receiver Mike Wallace if someone would take him. The offensive line will be all new this season because Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey might miss half the year due to hip surgery. Tannehill was the NFL's most sacked QB in 2013 as it was.
New York Jets
NFL odds: first +700, second +225, third +180, fourth +220
It seems pretty obvious now that Geno Smith is going to be the starting quarterback in Week 1 over Michael Vick. In some practices, Vick isn't even getting any first-team reps. Coach Rex Ryan is talking already about using Vick in a Wildcat package, which you don't mention if he's going to be your starter. The Jets defense should be good, but the secondary might be worth watching. The team lost starting cornerback Dee Milliner, a first-round pick last year, to a high ankle injury that could cost him Week 1. Rookie corner Dexter McDougle, the 80th overall pick in May, is out for the season after tearing his ACL. Another corner, Dimitri Patterson, looked terrible in the preseason opener against the Colts. The Jets gave up 206 total yards in the first half against Indy when the first team played into the second quarter.
NFL odds: first +1200, second +350, third +200, fourth +110
Take out the quarterback and look at Buffalo's skill position players: running backs C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown, and receivers Sammy Watkins, Mike Williams and Robert Woods. I would take those guys over what the Patriots, Dolphins or Jets have. Of course the problem is we still don't know what kind of NFL quarterback second-year E.J. Manuel is and that's pretty much all that matters. It's such a shame that the Bills lost rising star linebacker Kiko Alonso for the season as this could have been the best defense in the division as well. I'm also not sure if Doug Marrone is a good coach. Obviously the Patriots have one of the best in the NFL and Miami's Joe Philbin and the Jets' Rex Ryan were formerly very good coordinators. Marrone was just average as Syracuse's head coach. This team has talent. Are Marrone/Manuel the right guys to lead?
NFL picks: Patriots win the AFC East again but it's closer than usual. Jets finish second, followed by Bills and Dolphins.