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AFC East Outlook

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Division Winner

It seems like every season when this question is posed inside the AFC East, the answer is always the same. How does anybody go against a Patriots’ team that has won this division 10 of the past 11 seasons? Tom Brady is heading into his 13th season as the starting quarterback in New England, as the Pats have won at least 11 games ten times in this span. Granted, New England hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season, but its first three opponents on this season’s schedule didn’t make the playoffs in 2013 (Miami, Minnesota, and Oakland).

Projected order of finish

1) New England
2) Buffalo
3) Miami
4) N.Y. Jets

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The Bills haven’t reached the .500 mark since going 8-8 in 2008. This season could be different for Doug Marrone’s club, who hosts the Chargers, Vikings, Jets, and Browns, while making road trips to Houston and Oakland. Buffalo is normally a competitive team at home, but if they can find a way to go at least 5-3 at Ralph Wilson Stadium and steal two games on the road, this club can surpass their season win total of 6 ½.

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The Jets are coming off three straight seasons of eight wins or less, while New York has lost its final three contests twice in this span. New York added veterans Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, and Eric Decker to a sputtering offense from last season, but the Jets have won consecutive games just twice since the start of 2012. After facing the Raiders at home in the season opener, the Jets take on three consecutive NFC North foes (at Green Bay, vs. Chicago, vs. Detroit), followed by a brutal three-game stretch against AFC playoff teams from last season (at San Diego, vs. Denver, at New England). The Jets’ uncertainty at quarterback will likely hinder them and keep the team below 6 ½ victories.

Games to watch – September

Sept. 7 – New England at Miami: The Patriots are one of three road favorites in Week 1 (Carolina and San Francisco), as New England has won seven of the past eight meetings in this series. The Dolphins did sneak out a 24-20 home victory over the Patriots last December, but Miami owns a dreadful 2-6 straight-up and against the spread record in its previous eight home openers.

Sept. 14 – N.Y. Jets at Green Bay: The Jets have won consecutive games just twice since 2012, while posting a 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS record off a victory last season. That’s important in this contest assuming the Jets beat the Raiders in the season opener, but New York did pick up three wins against NFC foes in 2013.

Sept. 21 – San Diego at Buffalo: The Bills put together an impressive 6-1 ATS record at Ralph Wilson Stadium last season, while the Chargers are coming off a tough home contest against the defending champion Seahawks. According to CG Technologies opening line for this game, the Bills are one-point favorites, as San Diego owned a terrific 5-1-1 ATS record last season in the role of a road underdog.

Sept. 22 – Chicago at N.Y. Jets: New York welcomes Chicago on a Monday night to Met Life Stadium, as the Jets are 3-4 SU and 4-3 ATS at home under Rex Ryan on Mondays. The Bears are in a difficult spot after playing the 49ers the week before, while battling the rival Packers in Week 4, so this could be a letdown against an interconference foe.

Sept. 28 – Miami vs. Oakland (in London): Each of these teams head across the pond to Wembley Stadium, as the Dolphins have won each of the past four meetings with the Raiders since 2008. Oakland will be playing away from the Black Hole for the third time in four weeks to kick off the season, while Miami has won and covered each of its past four games against AFC West clubs.

Sept. 29 – New England at Kansas City: The final September contest in the league takes place at Arrowhead Stadium as the Chiefs were just 2-6 ATS last season at home. Since 2010, the Patriots own a terrific 5-1 SU/ATS record on Monday night football with all five wins coming by double-digits.

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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