AFC East Preview
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS AGAIN HEAVY FAVORITES TO WIN MEDIOCRE AFC EAST
The New England Patriots will make their first national TV appearance of the 2014 season Thursday when they host the Philadelphia Eagles in a game that will be shown live on the NFL Network. The Pats were inauspicious in their Preseason debut last week, virtually no-showing in a blowout loss at Washington. Tom Brady didn’t suit up, and is likely to slowly build his readiness before the regular season opener in Miami.
Do the Patriots have much to sweat in this year’s AFC race? They might be able to coast until November and still have it easy! Brady is Hall-of-Fame bound, the other three projected starting quarterbacks (Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, Ryan Tannehill) are so far behind him that it would be a big surprise if anyone besides New England won the division. Let’s run our key indicator stats as we continue our summer series of NFL divisional previews with the AFC East…
2013 AFC EAST STANDINGS
New England: 12-4 (+9 turnovers, #21 rated schedule)
Miami: 8-8 (-2 turnovers, #18 rated schedule)
NY Jets: 8-8 (-13 turnovers, #19 rated schedule)
Buffalo: 6-10 (+3 turnovers, #20 rated schedule)
Notebook: The Patriots have so much going for them as a franchise that they seemed to win 12 games last year based on reputational force. You won’t many find reasons for that gaudy 12-4 record in the stats below. And, those stats were compiled against a below average schedule. The Jets reaching 8-8 may have been an even bigger miracle given their horrible turnover performance. Stunning that this division finished over .500 as a group with a collective that wasn’t well-regarded in Power Ratings, and didn’t pass many eye tests.
New England: 5.4 on offense, 5.3 on defense
NY Jets: 5.0 on offense, 5.1 on defense
Buffalo: 4.8 on offense, 4.9 on defense
Miami: 5.0 on offense, 5.2 on defense
Notebook: Very little separates the teams at the point of attack. Amazing that the “best” is +0.1 and the “worst” is -0.2. The Patriots still have enough veteran savvy go get the most out of their production. Brady is getting old though…and the best teams aren’t afraid of him any more. The other three teams made up for their lack of offense with good defense. Though, the AFC had so many blah offenses that it’s easier to compile good defensive stats over here. There’s some good news here for Jets fans in that improvement from the quarterback position should help on yards-per-play and turnover differential. Buffalo and Miami weren’t as bad on turnovers last year, but have a chance to step forward with more experienced QB play as well.
2013 THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
NY Jets: 39% on offense, 37% defense
Miami: 35% on offense, 38% on defense
Buffalo: 34% on offense, 37% on defense
New England: 38% on offense, 42% on defense
Notebook: More ugliness! The Patriots have a “bend-but-don’t break” tendency on defense that hurts them in the middle of the field in this stat in a way that’s a little misleading. They aren’t as bad as our stat composite would have suggested, while also not being as good as that 12-4 record would have suggested. If Brady is at 38% in third down conversions, you KNOW he was having big issues with his receiving corps! Again here, we have young quarterbacks with the other three teams looking to improve in a skill set with experience.
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2014 PROJECTED WIN TOTALS IN LAS VEGAS
New England: 11 wins
Miami: 8 wins
NY Jets: 7.5 wins
Buffalo: 7 wins
As we said at the top, it would be a big surprise if anyone besides the Pats won the division. Vegas has them three games clear of the field. In terms of game-to-game Power Ratings in the advance markets, Miami, Buffalo, and the Jets are all being priced more like 6-10 caliber teams. But, the AFC is so weak that “6-10 caliber” has a real shot at .500 again because there are so many soft schedules. Somebody’s going to storm through the cheapies until getting a rude wake-up call in the playoffs. There’s a chance for this race to get interesting. But that would take an even further collapse by the Patriots, and a surprising surge for a young QB.
This weekend’s schedule for this division:
- New England hosts Philadelphia tonight on the NFL Network
- NY Jets visit Cincinnati Saturday at 7 p.m.
- Buffalo visits Pittsburgh Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
- Miami visits Tampa Bay Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
It’s great to have football back on the daily schedules! You can always purchase game day BEST BETS in both the NFL Preseason and the MLB pennant races right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm service in either football or baseball, call us in the office during normal business hours Friday, or this weekend before baseball’s first pitch at 1-800-323-4453.
We’ll finish off the NFL divisional previews this weekend with the AFC North and AFC West. Here’s the two-sport mix over the next few days…
Saturday: AFC North Preview: (Baltimore/Dallas on NFL Network)
Sunday: AFC West Preview: (Denver/SF on NFLN, Kansas City/Carolina on FOX)
Monday: NFL Big Game Preview: Johnny Manziel vs. RGIII in Cleveland/Washington!
Tuesday: MLB Big Game Preview: Atlanta at Pittsburgh
Wednesday: MLB TV Preview: LA Angels at Boston
That will bring us to the dress rehearsal games in Week Three of the NFL Preseason and a string of TV previews through the weekend. And, you know what happens soon after that? The start of college football on August 28!
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