By: Cory Vest
The countdown has been under way since the final second of Super Bowl LI ticked off the clock. Football fans far and wide are now drooling at the mouth as the sport blesses their television screens, radios, and other devices once again. Of course, it is only preseason play, but nonetheless, the sport is back. To celebrate the return of football let’s take a look at Las Vegas’ over/under win total for each team; make playoff predictions and throw out a Super Bowl result. The reigning champs of the football world shall lead the way. The New England Patriots are accompanied by the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets; these four teams make up the AFC East.
1. New England Patriots – Over/Under 12.5
The Patriots come into the season with the highest Las Vegas win total in the NFL. Why wouldn’t the Patriots sit atop the league when they finished with a dominating 14-2 record in the regular season. Then they went 3-0 in the playoffs to claim the Super Bowl title. Coming into this season they will be without their bruiser of a back, LeGarrette Blount; but New England did bolster their already respectable receiving corps, with the addition of former Saint, Brandon Cooks.
The two names with the most importance for the Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, are still going strong, which says it all. With that however, I am going with the under here. Though the Patriots will have no problem taking the division and making yet another playoff appearance, they will only record 12 wins on the season. With the Falcons, Raiders, and Steelers all getting the better of the Pats, the Patriots will fall short to one more team; it could quite possibly be an early season loss. The Pats open their season against the Chiefs, at the Saints, and then back home to take on the Texans. Patriots finish under the 12.5 total with a 12-4 record. Playoffs are a given for this team, a Super Bowl title is not. The Pats make the return to the big stage but fail in their quest for back to back championships.
2. Buffalo Bills – Over/Under 6
Recent trades for Buffalo may have brought the mark of 6 wins into question. The Bills sent talented, yet oft injured, Sammy Watkins to sport horns in LA. Buffalo quickly replaced the hole at wide receiver with now former Philadelphia Eagle, Jordan Matthews. The Bills traded away cornerback Ronald Darby in order to acquire Matthews. Ronald Darby’s replacement hails from Los Angeles, as the Bills swapped Watkins for E.J. Gaines.
The Bills proved to be a wild card last season as they got the win against some tough competitors; most notably a 16-0 victory over the aforementioned Patriots. A 7-9 record is not what the Bills had in mind however, especially with one of the league’s top running backs in LeSean McCoy. Inconsistency will plague the Bills again this year. Costly mistakes will outweigh the big performances and the Bills will finish 7-9 yet again. A team that would be exciting to watch in the playoffs will fall shy of the opportunity.
3. Miami Dolphins – Over/Under 7.5
A 10-6 record last season led to a playoff appearance. Although the appearance was brief, they lost to the Steelers in the first round, it was an appearance that provided excitement and hope for the 2017 season. Enter training camp, exit Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill suffered an ACL tear and will undergo season ending surgery. The replacement is none other than former broadcaster (wait he never made it to the booth), former Chicago Bear quarterback, Jay Cutler.
A favorable 2016 schedule helped the Dolphins claim victories over weaker opponents. The Dolphins played the type of ball they were capable of playing and got the wins they were capable of getting; while managing to pull off an upset or two. The 2017 schedule poses a greater challenge.
Jay Ajayi showed great potential last season and will hope to continue his success. Jay Cutler excelled while working with Dolphins head coach Adam Gase in Chicago. Regardless, the Dolphins schedule is tough; the Dolphins finish well under 7.5 wins as they would find themselves lucky to achieve a 5-11 record.
4. New York Jets – Over/Under 4.5
Rounding out the list is the New York Jets. Their 5-11 record last season is the ceiling for this season. Journeyman Josh McCown will enter his 15th year of professional football. With 15 years of mediocre play (sorry McCown, no disrespect) and a roster that leaves much to be desired, the Jets will be a minimal threat to the majority of their opponents. Games against the Jags, Browns, and Dolphins should help the Jets avoid a winless season. The Jets get three wins in 2017, good for a bottom dwelling 3-13 record.