AFC East division winner prediction 2022: Bills, Dolphins, and Patriots battle, Jets lie in wait

If you're betting on the AFC East division for the 2022 season, here's our analysis of team futures bets for the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets.

The AFC East division has had two 10+ win teams in each of the last three seasons, culminating last year with the Super-Bowl-aspirant Buffalo Bills and formerly dynastic New England Patriots. But the Miami Dolphins won eight of their last nine games, while the New York Jets . . . did better than the year before. Are the Bills the best bet to win the division again? Here are the NFL betting lines heading into 2022, with the team most likely to claim the title.

AFC East divisional winner prediction for 2022

The following analysis is based on DraftKings‘ “Team Futures” betting lines, including the odds as of Aug. 23, 2022. These odds could change during the preseason and assuredly will change in-season. For now, they are based on each team’s most likely win-loss record, beginning with the team with the worst odds.

New York Jets (+2800)

Only two teams have worse odds of winning their respective division (the Falcons in the NFC South and the Texans in the AFC South). However, not all is doom and gloom in New York.

The Jets are a franchise on the upswing. The defense is healthier and arguably improved. Their “franchise” quarterback, two top running backs, and top two wideouts are 23 years old or younger. Tevin Coleman, Corey Davis, Braxton Berrios, Tyler Conklin, and C.J. Uzomah offer steadying, veteran support — and at times, game-changing playmaking.

The problem, of course, is that this team is building toward something bigger in 2023 and 2024. The 2022 season should see enough ups and downs to keep the Jets at the bottom of the division. Throwing money at seemingly “nothing to lose” +2800 odds is money better spent elsewhere.

New England Patriots (+500)

Inexplicably (or maybe not), the Patriots are a slightly bigger longshot than the Dolphins to win the AFC East. True, Mac Jones remains a work-in-progress, and New England’s receiving corps might be the least talented in the league — and that was even before Tyquan Thornton got hurt.

Still, last year this team was built to win on the ground and with their defense. The same can be said in 2022.

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The mistake some people will make is looking at last year’s pedestrian (by Bill Belichick standards) 10-7 record and question whether this team is any better. But context is important. In the opening weeks of last season, they lost by one point to the Dolphins, and then by two on a late field goal against the Bucs. Then, they lost to Dallas on a walk-off touchdown.

That 2-4 start nearly doomed New England’s season. It also coincided with Jones’ first six NFL starts. The Patriots are a bold, savvy bet to win the AFC East at a very generous +500 line. No doubt, the Bills are the safer call, as we’ll confirm shortly. But New England is a great bet to hit 11+ wins and make a run at another title if Buffalo falters.

Miami Dolphins (+450)

To start, I’m bullish about Miami’s new-look passing attack. Tua Tagovailoa should take at least one big step forward as a reliable NFL starter, and his exceptional receiving corps will keep them in more games. Consider that it took several weeks last season before Miami committed to Jaylen Waddle as their No. 1 WR. Soon after, they went on a torrid winning streak.

An improved backfield will be the X-factor, as Miami’s running game last year was among the worst two in the league (Texans). This year’s squad was designed to make the playoffs. Anything less would be a disaster. And yet, they’ll open the season against the Patriots, Ravens, Bills, and Bengals. Later in the year, they’ll have five straight contests (four on the road) against the 49ers, Chargers, Bills, Packers, and Patriots again.

If the Dolphins are truly a great team, they’ll go 6-3 or better in those games. I don’t see that happening. A realistic ceiling seems like 11-12 wins, and I think they fall just short of New England — either with only 10 wins or with 11 and losing the tiebreaker.

Buffalo Bills (-230)

There’s nothing inherently risky about betting on Buffalo to win the AFC East, despite the very favorable odds. Only the Buccaneers are more favored to win their division (-250). Yet, the Bills have too much going for them, including an array of prime and pre-prime playmakers at key positions who can overwhelm even some of the league’s best.

All but one of their losses last year were by a touchdown or less. Buffalo’s lone blowout defeat was to the Colts, who employed Jonathan Taylor on 53% of their offensive plays (35 of 66), en route to five touchdowns.

In most weeks, the Bills will have a distinct edge over their opponents, which should result in 12+ wins. So if you bet on the AFC East, I suggest putting 80% of your dedicated investment on the Bills and 20% on the Patriots. If the Bills win it, you’ll snag net profits. If the Patriots win it, you’ll earn even more.

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