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Breaking down the odds to win the AFC East ahead of free agency

Has the torch finally been passed in the AFC East?

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC East was honestly one of the more compelling two-horse races that came down to the wire before the Buffalo Bills finally claimed back-to-back division titles in the final weeks of the season. But will it be the same story yet again in 2022?

Free agency will produce considerably player movement as always, some teams will look largely the same. The published divisional odds from DraftKings Sportsbook provide a deeper look into the perceived hierarchy of each division and how much upside certain teams have within them.

Buffalo Bills: -225

The Bills will largely look the same as they did during their run to the AFC Divisional round this season. The biggest piece on offense they’re set to lose is Isaiah McKenzie, which is tough for special teams' purposes, but they can survive without him in the passing game.

The offense and QB Josh Allen are the highlight of this team and we really could be talking about them as Super Bowl Champions if the NFL’s overtime rules were different. But the defense has been fantastic too, ranking in the top-5 of the league in most statistical categories a year ago. They might be in the market for a pass-rusher with Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison and Harrison Phillips set to become free agents, but for the most part, they’ll remain largely unchanged from a year ago on both sides of the ball.

New England Patriots: +330

The Pats very nearly shocked the world and grabbed the AFC East title out of the hands of the Bills, but they couldn’t hold on down the final stretch of the season. Rookie QB Mac Jones was a bit of a media darling in the middle of the season, but toward the back end looked more and more like a rookie. However, players tend to make a drastic jump between years one and two, especially quarterbacks. So if Jones can make that leap, it wouldn’t be surprising for New England to take back the crown from Buffalo.

With Bill Belichick at the helm, it doesn’t really matter who leaves in free agency and who comes in. He seems to be able to get the most out of all of his players regardless of position, so the Pats are never a team to count out even if they look less than stellar on paper.

Miami Dolphins: +600

The Fins made a pretty drastic and questionable move firing Brian Flores shortly after the regular season wrapped up. But they’ve got their new coach now in former San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. He’s proven already he can turn a mediocre quarterback into a Super Bowl-caliber offense with Jimmy G. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is probably better than what McDaniel had in the Bay Area, but it’s not 100% sure of that just yet.

He inherits a pretty stellar pass-catcher in Jaylen Waddle, who already has good chemistry with Tagovailoa from their days together at Alabama. Still, that offensive line has been a mess for seemingly decades, so that should be his first order of business.

Even if he can get all that done, it’s a tall task to take the division crown away from the two teams at the top, especially in your first year as a head coach.

New York Jets: +3000

I mean, they’re the Jets. QB Zach Wilson, who was supposed to be the savior of the franchise, looked like a mess during his rookie year. He missed some time with injury and while he improved as the season came to a close, of the two rookie QBs in the division last season, Wilson was the clear second best.

He’ll hope make a similar jump to Jones this offseason, but even if that happens, there are several problems for the Jets to overcome. They need some drastic improvement along the offensive and defensive fronts and need to be better in the passing game on both sides of the ball as well.

It’s looking to be another long season for Jets fans.

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