NFL Betting: AFC East Odds Shift Following Brady’s Departure
With Tom Brady officially announcing that he will not be returning to the Patriots on Tuesday, my first thought was Joe Montana in a Chiefs uniform and Michael Jordan in a Wizards jersey. Similar to those Hall of Famers, seeing Brady playing for a different team will just feel…strange. However, my very next thought was what this means for the AFC East division during the 2020 NFL season.
Since 2003, bettors could count on the New England Patriots winning their division about as reliably as the sun rising in the east each morning. In all but one season (2008 when Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the first regular season game), the Patriots have finished on top of the division. The quarterback’s plans, of course, have a massive impact on the division winner odds.
Post Brady Announcement
I will focus on two teams in particular, one from a realistic winner perspective and another value play.
The Patriots have far too many question marks on offense, both at the skill positions as well as the offensive line. They also lost two key defensive players over the last couple of days, as Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy (more on him in a moment) have signed with new teams. And there is the matter of finding a quarterback to lead the team this season. There are rumors that Bill Belichick will look to bring back Jacoby Brissett, following Philip Rivers signing a 1-year deal to lead the Colts. While Brissett knows the offense and is likely the best option, he doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of division rivals. Belichick is a genius, but it appears that he will have to lean on his defense even more than he did this past season.
Joe Douglas and Adam Gase are getting paid to run the New York Jets. In return, they have signed three offensive linemen. However, they have missed out on several targets over the past couple of days (e.g., Jordan Howard). Protecting Sam Darnold will be key, but this team doesn’t have as much talent as their AFC East division opponents. And they surely are at a coaching disadvantage (Gase is the fourth best coach in the division, and I’m not even sure that is debatable).
That leaves the Buffalo Bills lead by young Josh Allen at quarterback with a bevy of skill position players at his disposal, particularly with the addition of new #1 receiving target Stefon Diggs. The free agent signee joins speedster John Brown and reliable slot receiver Cole Beasley to make up most formidable pass catching group in the division. Allen also has a star in the making in the backfield, with Devin Singletary able to rush the ball effectively (5.1 yards per carry) and has demonstrated explosiveness every time he touches the football. Combine this with the 6th ranked defense as measured by DVOA, and you have a team that will undoubtedly be contending for the division title late into the season. Getting Buffalo at plus-money with a coaching staff that has proven its mettle two out of the last three seasons is a steal.
Surprisingly, the Miami Dolphins are the second team to focus on, as there is tremendous value even after the line adjusted post-Brady decision. Widely regarded as a team that was ‘tanking for Tua’ at the beginning of the 2019 season, they came on strong and were 9-3 ATS in the last three-quarters of the season, consistently demonstrating fight under the leadership of head coach Brian Flores.
Meanwhile, it’s debatable who has won free agency up to this point, but the Miami Dolphins are absolutely in the conversation. They’ve seemingly made smart decisions in the front office (lead by Chris Grier) and have spent a total of $208.5 million on contracts over the last two days!
The Dolphins moves include:
- Byron Jones is now the highest paid cornerback in the league and will line up on the other side of Xavien Howard to make up what could be a shutdown pass defense for opponents outside receivers.
- Kyle Van Noy was a part of the Patriots record breaking defense last season, often times their best player in the front seven, and will clearly fill a need at linebacker.
- Jordan Howard is a solid option at running back.
- Ereck Flowers helps shore up an offensive line that struggled to protect Ryan Fitzpatrick last season.
- Shaq Lawson is coming off of his best season at defensive end, registering 6.5 sacks for the Bills.
- Emmanuel Ogbah was effective coming off of the edge for the Chiefs, when healthy last season.
Additionally, in next month’s draft, the Dolphins have picks 5, 18, 26, 39, and 56 in the first two rounds, where they will inevitably draft a quarterback (Tua!) to lead their team. That quarterback’s transition and evolution into the league will be crucial to their success this season.
Let’s see what the coming days and NFL Draft brings for the AFC East, but I am currently taking a long look at both the Bills and Dolphins in the futures markets.