NFL Picks: AFC East Underdogs Worthy of Consideration

Rivers McCown

Saturday, August 15, 2015 12:42 PM UTC

Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015 12:42 PM UTC

Is there any value left to be found in betting the AFC East? This NFL Handicapper focuses mainly on the NY Jets, priced at +750 to win this division, and the Miami Dolphins, as well.

I will start this off with some very simple advice to you: don't play the AFC East lines until you're sure how long Tom Brady's suspension will be. This may mean that you don't bet it at all – that's fine. It's more important to not put yourself in a bad situation.

Last week I introduced to you the idea that the Buffalo Bills are one of my favorites to go under. I won't be further discussing them here because, well, I wouldn't bet them.

So let's talk about the Jets and the Dolphins.

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New York Jets – +750/+1325
Last year, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien proved that you could build a team around hiding Ryan Fitzpatrick's scrambling tendencies and not be half-bad. Provided you had one of the greatest defensive seasons in the history of the NFL backing you up, anyway. Unfortunately for the Jets, the news out of training camp has not been optimistic.

I'm no Geno Smith supporter, but the news that his jaw was broken by a teammate quashed out a lot of optimistic scenarios for the Jets. You know, the green-colored glasses ones where Smith suddenly became a good quarterback in his third season. Fitzpatrick is more likely to be competent, and less likely to be great.

Star lineman Sheldon Richardson is likely to be suspended and his long-term status is unknown. Second-round rookie wide receiver Devin Smith is likely to miss a lot of camp due to his broken ribs and punctured lung. Cornerback Dee Milliner's wrist injury will cost him 6-8 weeks. No team escapes training camp without bumps, but the Jets are getting hit at important positions that I think have rubbed off a lot of their upside.

Which is why, even though I love the price they're getting, I can't bring myself to pull the trigger here.


Miami Dolphins -- +270/+400
This is the year the Miami Dolphins finally run out of excuses. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been handed a stacked receiving corps that no longer relies on deep passes to deposed receiver Mike Wallace. They gave the biggest defensive contract in NFL history to tackle Ndamukong Suh, which should improve their pass rush.

The only huge roster holes in my opinion are second cornerback, where the team is choosing to believe in 2013 second-rounder Jamar Taylor, and offensive line, which is populated by many young players with no track record of success.

But what this really comes down to is whether you believe in head coach Joe Philbin, and at the end of the day, I don't. This team has been talented enough to make the playoffs the last two seasons and hasn't been able to break .500. Research by my podcast co-host Danny Tuccitto has suggested that coaches have much more of an impact on performance than thought. 

If I were betting the Dolphins purely as a collection of talent, I think +400 is a great price to snag for NFL picks. As it is, I'd probably wait out the Brady suspension news and hope for a judgment that moves the price a little lower. 

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