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AFC East Preview

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AFC East · AFC South · AFC North · AFC West
The AFC East has been owned by the Patriots over the last decade, but the hits offensively in New England may slow down the attack. Obviously the Pats still have Tom Brady under center, but an injury to Rob Gronkowski, the release of Aaron Hernandez, and the loss of Wes Welker to the Broncos takes away plenty of weapons for the defending division champions. New England fell one game short of the Super Bowl last January, while splitting each of its final 12 games against the spread.

The remainder of the division is up in the air with the Dolphins, Jets, and Bills each trying to take that next step. However, Miami made significant free-agent moves in the offseason to help Ryan Tannehill in his second season at quarterback, which include wide receivers Mike Wallace (from Pittsburgh) and Brandon Gibson (from St. Louis). The Dolphins continue to be the most inconsistent ATS team over the last four seasons, compiling a 33-31 record, while failing to post an above .500 record since winning the division in 2008.

New York qualified for a pair of AFC Championships in Rex Ryan's first two seasons (2009-2010), while the Jets have been grounded recently with an 8-8 record in 2011 and just a 6-10 finish in 2012. Under Ryan, the Jets continue to underachieve in the role of a home favorite, posting an 11-15 ATS record since 2009, as New York may be laying points at Met Life Stadium up to four times this season.

The Bills have lost double-digit games for each of the previous four seasons, while picking up a last-place schedule in 2013. Buffalo stunk it up as road underdogs last season, putting together a 2-6 ATS record, including four losses by at least 10 points. Former Florida State standout E.J. Manuel is expected to start at quarterback following Ryan Fitzpatrick's roller-coaster campaign, as the ex-Harvard signal-caller was released after the season.

September Games to Watch:

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Carolina at Buffalo - Week 2: The Bills have split each of their last 10 home games against the NFC since 2008, while dropping contests to the Rams and Seahawks in 2012. Buffalo won and covered four of six home contests in the favorite role last season, including double-digit routs of the Chiefs, Jaguars, and Jets. Carolina closed the last campaign with covers in five of its final six games, including outright 'dog wins at San Diego and New Orleans.

Miami at Indianapolis - Week 2: The Colts escaped past the Dolphins, 23-20 as short home 'dogs last November, one of six road losses for Miami. The Dolphins will be playing their second road game in as many weeks after their season opener at Cleveland. Miami begins a four-week stretch in Week 2 of facing upper-tier quarterbacks by taking on Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Joe Flacco in successive weeks.

New England at Atlanta - Week 4: The Patriots lost three of four games against the NFC last season, including defeat to eventual conference champion San Francisco in December. New England is expected to be listed as a road underdog, as Bill Belichick's club owns a terrific 7-1 ATS record since 2009 when receiving points away from Gillette Stadium.

N.Y. Jets at Tennessee - Week 4: This isn't exactly a prime matchup on that week's card, but it's a rematch of an ugly Monday night contest last December from Nashville. The Titans slipped by the Jets, 14-10, the start of a three-game skid for New York to close the season. The Jets actually wrap up September with three non-playoff teams from last season (Buccaneers, Bills, and Titans), while the schedule toughens up in October with matchups against four playoff clubs from 2012.

2013 Win-Loss Projections
Team 2012 Record 2013 Win Total (LVH) Predicted Over/Under
New England 12-4 11 ½ UNDER
Miami 7-9 7 ½ OVER
N.Y. Jets 6-10 6 ½ OVER
Buffalo 6-10 6 ½ UNDER

Week 1 Best Bets (courtesy of LVH Hotel and Casino):

-- Dolphins -1 ½ at Browns
-- Buccaneers -1 at Jets
-- Patriots -6 ½ at Bills (PASS)

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.



  
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