Continuing with one of my favorite annual articles, here are my over/under wins and playoff predictions for the AFC.
The NFC preview can be read HERE.
New England Patriots – Over 11 wins (-140)
The Patriots were underratedly dominant last season. They went 8-0 at home, and their 4 road losses were each by a touchdown or less. Tom Brady may not be throwing for the same kind of numbers that Peyton, Rodgers, or Brees, are, but I still put him in the elite tier of NFL quarterbacks. Darelle Revis replacing Aqib Talib should be a significant upgrade, and the return of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo should give them a much stronger front seven than last year. Read on for my playoff predictions, but I expect big things from New England this season.
Miami Dolphins – Over 7.5 wins (-105)
If Ryan Tannehill continues to improve, this team could make waves in 2014. Their defense is solid, and an easier schedule than last year makes me question why Vegas thinks they will regress. Branden Albert should help shore up their offensive line issues, and Knowshon Moreno is a definite upgrade in their backfield. This is one of my favorite picks in either conference.
New York Jets – Under 7 wins (+110)
The Jets made it to 8-8 last year, and Geno Smith proved to be better than expected. However, I think their secondary is a disaster and the offense still lacks the weapons to win big games. I think it’s likely they end 7-9, so I’ll go with +110 instead of -140 and wouldn’t take either side strongly.
Buffalo Bills – Under 6.5 wins (+135)
The odds are -165 on the over, and I feel pretty strongly that the Bills are the worst team in this division. Sammy Watkins and C.J. Spiller are beasts, but I’m not sure E.J. Manuel and Doug Marrone’s system will get them the ball enough. Considering how much I like the other teams in this division, I think the Bills are going to have a tough time getting to 7 or 8 wins.
Cincinnati Bengals – Over 9 wins (-105)
Even though their line is just half a win over Pittsburgh or Baltimore, I think Cincinnati is still the top dog in this division by a decent margin. Their defense is probably the best in the AFC, and they kept basically the same roster as last season. They may not reach 11 wins, but they’re a pretty safe bet for 10.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Under 8.5 wins (+110) / Baltimore Ravens – Under 8.5 wins (EVEN)
I view these two as a joint bet, as I think one will probably go over, and the other will go under. I don’t have a great feel for either team, and am happy to go 1-1 on these two teams. I like the Steelers a little bit more, but am going to play it safe and take the under on both.
Cleveland Browns – Under 6.5 wins (+105)
I am a moderate fan of Brian Hoyer, but with Josh Gordon’s suspension being upheld, I don’t think this offense will produce enough to win 7 or 8 games. They don’t have that easy of a schedule, and lost one of their best defensive players in T.J. Ward. This is close, but I lean towards the under.
Indianapolis Colts – Under 9.5 wins (-115)
As good as Andrew Luck may be, the Colts have overperformed their last two seasons by nearly every advanced statistic. Their defense is below average, and their running game won’t be much better. That’s a lot of faith to put in Luck to pull off game winning drives, comebacks, and carry the weight of the entire team. I’m not sure he can bring them to 10 wins again without a little bit of variance.
Houston Texans – Over 7.5 wins (-150)
After starting 2-0, the Texans closed 2013 on a 14 game losing streak. The good news is they have a new quarterback, coach, and #1 overall pick. While Ryan Fitzpatrick is far from a stud, this team has a good enough run game and defense to make up for it. They should bounce back strongly from last season, and I expect them to fight for the division title.
Tennessee Titans – Over 7 wins (-105)
I’ve always been a fan of Jake Locker, and this may be his last chance. The Titans have a very easy schedule, and I think it’s far more likely they hit 8 or 9 wins than 5 or 6.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Under 5 wins (+105)
These lower lines beg you to take the over, but I don’t see enough talent on Jacksonville (or Oakland) to warrant taking the over. There’s a definite chance this team is as bad as 2-14 or 3-13, and getting +105 seems like a good value.
Denver Broncos – Over 11.5 wins (-105)
For a team that was so good last year, it’s impressive what the Broncos were able to pull off this summer. DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and T.J. Ward are upgrades at key defensive positions, and Emmanuel Sanders should fill the shoes of Eric Decker adequately. They have some tough games on their schedule, but have the talent to get to 12 wins. At this point, it’s hard to pick against them.
San Diego Chargers – Over 8 wins (-150)
After winning 5 of their last 6 games to make the playoffs and then winning on the road once they got there, the Chargers proved they are a force to be reckoned with in the AFC. Brandon Flowers was their only notable addition, but their defense has to improve after being 32nd in DVOA last season. I think the Chargers could get to 10 wins, and may be better than any team in the AFC North or South.
Kansas City Chiefs – Under 8 wins (-140)
The Chiefs are definitely due for some regression, and have a MUCH tougher slate than last year. Their first six games are the toughest of any team in the league, and that could set back the entire team’s season. Losing three of their starting lineman from last season is also a terrible sign for their entire offense. I’d be pretty shocked if they are over .500 again this season.
Oakland Raiders – Under 5 wins (+110)
Like I mentioned with Jacksonville, many bettors view a 5 win total and automatically hit the over. However, I think getting +110 on Derek Carr, a makeshift offensive line, and an athletic but ineffective defense winning 4 games or less sounds pretty darn good.
- 3) Bengals over 6) Dolphins
- 5) Chargers over 4) Colts
- 1) Patriots over 5) Chargers
- 2) Broncos over 3) Bengals
- 1) Patriots over 2) Broncos
- 1) Patriots over 1) Saints
Matt Cott is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis and a contributor to The New York Times. Follow him on Twitter @KidCotti21!