Thanks to the reversal of Tom Brady's suspension, the New England Patriots have seen their NFL odds shorten for the new season. But will it really make a difference?
So Tom Brady will start Game 1 of the 2015 regular season after all. NFL commish Roger Goodell is appealing the reversal of the four-game suspension he handed down after the Deflategate incident, but it appears he won't seek an injunction to prevent Brady from suiting up next Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) when the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After the Brady news hit the fan, New England's prospects for this season grew even brighter. The NFL odds for Thursday's season opener have moved from Patriots –3 to Patriots –7. However, looking at the long term, the Pats remain unchanged +900 on the Super Bowl 50 futures market at Bovada. So what should we do about our AFC East projections?
10.1 out of 10
Not much. While New England's chances of beating the Steelers look that much better, even when you multiply Brady's reinstatement over four games, you only get about 0.4 wins of extra value above having Jimmy Garoppolo start instead. That's according to Chadwick Matlin and Neil Paine over at FiveThirtyEight. They've got the Patriots winning 10.1 games now instead of 9.7. With this in mind, here's how we see the AFC East shaking out here at the home office:
New England Patriots 10-6
Miami Dolphins 9-7
Buffalo Bills 8-8
New York Jets 7-9
How did we get here? Pretty simple: We took the regular-season win totals for each team, and we rounded them up or down as necessary. We also looked at some stat-friendly projections, but at this point, there isn't really much difference between the two. It does seem like a tight race in the AFC East, although we think 10-6 might be a bit pessimistic for the Patriots. They've won at least 12 games five years in a row. Only twice since 2003 did they “only” win 10 games. Betting against the Patriots doesn't work well for us – not during the regular season, at least.
Naturally, the actual standings are almost certainly going to look different once the regular season is over. We'll do a little touchdown dance if we nail all four of these NFL picks, of course, but the real point of this exercise is to identify whether we think these teams are more likely to exceed or fall short of their projections.
As you may have guessed, we've already pegged the Patriots as more likely to go OVER. We've also had some good things to say about the Jets, whom we put in our dual forecast for the AFC East. The Bills, and especially the Dolphins, don't inspire the same level of confidence. Both teams have quality defenses, but Buffalo's QB situation isn't ideal, and Miami has issues with the offensive line, with depth on defense, and with the front office. They'll need a lot more than chewing gum to get rid of that bad taste.