AFC East Predictions 2023: Division Winner Odds & Best Bet

Apr 26, 2023; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left) and owner Woody Johnson pose for a photo during the introductory press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
Image Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots ruled the AFC East during their dynasty, but the Bills have captured the division title in three consecutive seasons. The Dolphins had a promising 2022 campaign and reached the postseason. And the Jets traded for future Hall of Famer and multi-time MVP winner Aaron Rodgers before this year’s NFL Draft. 

As a result, the AFC East has three teams in the top-10 betting odds to win the Super Bowl, with the Bills third, Jets seventh, and Dolphins tied for 10th. And while the Patriots no longer resemble the dominant team they were during Tom Brady’s tenure, they’re not a pushover.

So, this division is arguably the deepest and best in the NFL. Everyone has plus odds to win the AFC East. However, the line for a specific finish within the division for one of the betting darlings is my pick for the best bet in the AFC East.

AFC East Odds

Buffalo Bills+120
New York Jets+270
Miami Dolphins+300
New England Patriots+800

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of August 23.

Buffalo Bills Odds To Win AFC East: (+120)

The Bills were the bell of the ball last offseason. They were a popular pick to win their first Super Bowl. Yet, after falling in a back-and-forth shootout to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round in the 2021 postseason, they were steamrolled by the Bengals in the Divisional Round last year. 

Regardless, the Bills were the class of the AFC East and one of the best teams in the NFL in 2022. First, according to Pro Football Reference, the Bills had the second-best point differential (+169). Second, per Pro Football Focus (PFF), Buffalo was their seventh-ranked team. Third, according to Football Outsiders, the Bills were first in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and second in weighted DVOA.

The Bills have won 13, 11, and 13 games in the previous three years. The combination of Sean McDermott and Josh Allen has piled up wins, with Allen’s game taking off when the team acquired stud wideout Stefon Diggs before the 2020 campaign. Their core is intact. Thus, they’re justifiably the favorites to win the AFC East. The line is fair. But, per usual, I’m not crazy about tying up funds on a modest betting line that won’t pay off until 2024. 

New York Jets Odds To Win AFC East: (+270)

The Jets are getting “winners of the offseason” treatment. Ultimately, the Jets and Packers agreed to a trade, sending four-time MVP (2011, 2014, 2020, and 2021) Aaron Rodgers to Gang Green. Rodgers is assuredly a significant upgrade from New York’s 2022 starting quarterbacks. 

Yet, he’s 39 years old, and the team hired Nathaniel Hackett to be their offensive coordinator after he embarrassed himself as the head coach and play caller for the Broncos last year. 

So, even with New York’s upgrade at quarterback, the team needs their defense to be elite again this year to compete for the AFC East crown. The Jets allowed the second-fewest yards per play (4.8) and the fourth-fewest points per game (18.6) last season. The Jets were also fifth in defense DVOA and second in PFF’s defense grade. 

Even with an elite defense last year, the Jets were 7-10 and had the worst point differential (-20) in the AFC East. Obviously, if the offense takes a step forward with Rodgers slinging the pigskin, they can finish above .500, even if the defense doesn’t entirely duplicate their excellence from last year. Still, the offseason love has gone overboard, and the Jets are mispriced.

Miami Dolphins Odds To Win AFC East: (+300)

Last season, the Dolphins were 9-8 and pushed the Bills to the limits in the Wild Card Round, even with rookie Skylar Thompson starting at quarterback. The Dolphins were 8-5 in Tua Tagovailoa’s starts and 1-3 games the lefty didn’t start. 

Tagovailoa got off to a fast start, thriving in first-time head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. Unfortunately, concussions derailed his breakout campaign and remain a concern for his long-term outlook. And while concussions are the primary discussion around Tagovailoa, it’s worth noting his play tailed off toward the end of the year. 

The Dolphins have absurd speed on their offense. And they added a decent insurance policy for Tagovailoa, signing Mike White as a free agent. 

Miami’s defense should also get a facelift with two massive offseason moves. First, the Dolphins hired Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator. Fangio has an outstanding track record of success as a defensive coordinator. Second, they traded for Jalen Ramsey. Miami will also have an entire season of Bradley Chubb after trading for him during the 2022 season. 

If the Dolphins recapture their early-2022 offensive success and improve on defense under the guidance of Fangio, the Dolphins are a legitimate contender to win the AFC East. Their betting line appears to be a slight value, and they should be priced at shorter odds than the Jets. 

New England Patriots Odds To Win AFC East: (+800)

The Patriots were 7-9, 10-7, and 8-9 in the post-Tom Brady era in three seasons. Therefore, it hasn’t been smooth sailing, and they’re no longer a powerhouse. However, they’re not a pushover.

In fact, the Patriots had the second-best point differential (+17) in the AFC East last year. New England’s strength is on defense, which isn’t surprising for a Bill Belichick-coached team. The Patriots allowed the third-fewest yards per play (4.97) and the 11th-fewest points per game (20.4). New England was also third in defense DVOA and ninth in PFF’s team defense grade. 

The Patriots were held back last year by their unexplainable decision to take the offensive coordinator position unserious. The organization has reunited with Bill O’Brien, hiring him as their offensive coordinator. O’Brien might not be an elite offensive coordinator. Still, he should be a monumental improvement over the combination of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. O’Brien’s primary task will be getting Mac Jones back on track after a sophomore slump. Even if Jones recaptures his rookie form, New England’s offense lacks the firepower to win the AFC East.

AFC East Predictions & Best Bet

Rodgers didn’t resemble end-of-career Peyton Manning last year. But, per Pro Football Reference, Rodgers had his lowest Quarterback Rating, QBR, and Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (5.95 ANY/A) as a starting quarterback in 2022. Hackett also appears aptly named since he’s a hack as a play caller. Hackett was a lousy offensive coordinator with the Bills (2013-2014) and the Jaguars (2016-2018). The Packers were successful when he was their offensive coordinator (2019-2021). However, Matt LaFleur was the team’s play caller.

As a result, I’m skeptical that the Jets will have better than an average offense this season. New York is getting a ton of bets to win the AFC, but that seems like more of an emotional choice than one rooted in reality. 

And for as much love as New York’s defense gets, they were behind the Bills and Patriots in defense DVOA, ranking fifth versus fourth and third. The Jets also did a pitiful job of creating turnovers, forcing the fourth-fewest (16) in 2022. Frankly, New York’s calling-card defense might not even be the best in the division. A +250 line is exciting for the Jets finishing third in the AFC East, and I’m more concerned about them ruining this bet by stumbling into the basement than doing so by finishing first or second in the division. 

Best Bet: New York Jets Division Finish 3rd | +250 at DraftKings Sportsbook

More Division Odds & Predictions

Check out Josh’s predictions from across the other NFL divisions: