Become a Fantasy Points Subscriber!

2020 Betting Review: AFC East

betting

We hope you enjoy this FREE article from FantasyPoints.com! In order to access our other articles and content, including livestreams, projections and rankings, stat analysis and more, be sure to sign up today. We are here to help you #ScoreMore Fantasy Points!

2020 Betting Review: AFC East

I wanted to do quick-hitting postmortem reports on every team since I spent so much time — and about 2000 words — breaking down all 32 franchises from a betting perspective this summer. These articles also gave me a chance to do a full accounting of all my off-season/preseason Best Bets. Here were the overall results for my NFL Futures with individual results for each AFC East team below.

NFL Futures

For a full rundown of my NFL Futures from the off-season/preseason click here.

  • OVERALL BEST BETS — 27-27 (+15.51 units)

  • Season Wins — 8-0 (+11.98 units)

  • Season Player Props — 7-8 (-2.47 units)

  • Season Futures — 4-11 (+1.91 units)

  • Draft Props — 8-7 (+4.09 units)

  • Every Team Season Wins — 20-12 (62.5%)

AFC East Reviews

*Playoff team*

1. *Buffalo Bills (13-3, 11-5 ATS)*

  • Division Odds: -125

  • Playoff Odds: -190

  • Best Bets: To win the AFC East +125 (win, +1.25 units, first)

  • Leans: Over 8.5 wins (win, 13-3); Stefon Diggs under 974.5 receiving yards (yeesh, 1535)

What went right

The Bills franchise finally had a season to remember after so many long Buffalo winters since they were once annual contenders in the ’90s. They started 4-0 for the first time since 2008 and they tied a franchise-best record at 13-3, which they last did in 1991 and 1990. The Bills also won their first AFC East title and they won their first playoff victory since 1995, and they reached their first AFC Championship Game since 1993.

Buffalo experienced a meteoric rise this season because of the growth of third-year QB Josh Allen and because of Stefon Diggs’ acquisition. Allen went from being an inconsistent, inaccurate passer to one of the league’s best quarterbacks in the span of three short seasons. Allen easily posted career-highs across the board on his way to finishing as the QB1 in fantasy with 25.8 FPG. Diggs certainly played a big part in Allen’s development as the Bills and the Vikings pulled off a rare trade that worked out ideally for both organizations. Minnesota sent Diggs to the Bills in exchange for the 22nd overall pick and three other picks. Diggs instantly became the centerpiece for Buffalo’s passing attack while the Vikings drafted a new franchise WR in Justin Jefferson. Diggs finished his first season in Buffalo as the WR3 in fantasy with 20.5 FPG (127/1535/8 receiving).

What went wrong

I couldn’t come up with much to be disappointed about when it comes to Buffalo’s breakout season. The franchise has the looks of a team that’s going to be an annual contender in the AFC for the next decade-plus with Allen at the helm. Unfortunately, they ran into the defending Super Bowl champions in the AFC Championship Game, and the Chiefs are likely to be a problem for the Bills for years to come. I’m nitpicking a bit, but this explosive offense needs to have a little more balance moving forward. They had a nonexistent running game for much of the season and it was exacerbated in the playoffs after Zack Moss went down for the season with his ankle injury in the Wild Card Round.

The game they stole

The Bills officially announced their presence on the national scene with their dramatic 35-32 victory over the Rams in Week 3. Buffalo’s victory was nearly listed as a game that got away. The Bills held a massive 28-3 lead and a 99.5% win probability over Los Angeles early in the third quarter before they allowed 29 unanswered points to the Rams. Los Angeles grabbed its first lead of the game with 4:30 minutes left in the game, but Buffalo responded with a methodical 11-play drive that climaxed with Tyler Kroft’s game-winning touchdown from three yards away with 15 seconds left. Allen played a hand in all five of their touchdowns with four passing TDs and a rushing TD.

The game that got away

The Bills won 11-of-12 games in Week 7 through the Divisional Round, and they had a 12th victory well within their grasp in that span before Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins ripped it away from them on one of the most memorable plays of 2020. The Bills owned a 14-point lead over the Cardinals early in the third quarter of Week 10 but the Cardinals eventually took the lead on the heels of a pair of touchdown runs by Kyler. The Bills then catapulted back into the lead with just 34 seconds left on a 21-yard touchdown catch by Diggs. Arizona would have the last laugh, though, as Murray drove them 32 yards in 23 seconds to set up Murray’s incredible throw and Hopkins’ ridiculous catch in the end zone, which would be dubbed the “Hail Murray.” The loss may have knocked lesser times sideways but the Bills would run off eight straight victories to reach the AFC Championship Game after the demoralizing loss to the Cardinals.

What to look for this off-season

The Bills don’t have a whole lot of questions heading into the off-season with a roster that looks primed to be in contention against next season. Allen and the Bills could look to negotiate a contract extension as the franchise quarterback heads into Year Four of his rookie contract. Buffalo also has a couple of key free agents they’ll look to lock up in March with CB Levi Wallace, DE Trent Murphy, LB Matt Milano, RG Jon Feliciano, and RT Daryl Williams each heading toward new contracts. The Bills should look to bolster their EDGE rushers this off-season too. Jerry Hughes is heading into his age-33 season and they didn’t have a single player register more than five sacks last season.

2. Miami Dolphins (10-6, 11-5 ATS)

  • Best Bets: None.
  • Leans: Under 6.5 wins (loss, 10-6)

What went right

The Dolphins tore everything down during the 2018 season and the 2019 off-season, and they’ve already completed their turnaround in two short seasons. Miami had a five-win improvement in 2020 and they had their first winning season since 2016 with a 10-6 record. They started the season with a 1-3 mark but they ran off a six-game winning streak in Weeks 4-10, and they were the ones to officially eliminate the Patriots from the playoffs for the first time since 2008. HC Brian Flores orchestrated one of the best defenses in the league as the Dolphins allowed the fourth-fewest points per game (21.1) and they averaged the most takeaways per game (1.8). Xavien Howard led the group as he joined Antonio Cromartie as the only player with 10+ interceptions in a season since the merger.

What went wrong

The Dolphins certainly had a season to remember and they proved they were way ahead of schedule to being AFC contenders, but the ending of 2020 still stung for the franchise. Even with the playoffs expanding to seven teams per conference, the Dolphins became the first to miss the playoffs with 10 wins since the Jets did it back in 2015, a team that Ryan Fitzpatrick also led. Fitz opened the season as the starter for the Dolphins before eventually giving way to Tua Tagovailoa, whom the Dolphins drafted fifth overall in the spring. Tua seeing significant playing time as a rookie was a victory considering the catastrophic hip injury he suffered in his final season at Alabama. However, his play on the field as a rookie left a lot of room for improvement next season. He averaged just 6.3 YPA and 200.6 passing yards per game in nine starts, and Flores benched him multiple times in-game for Fitz.

The game they stole

The Dolphins put themselves in a position to make the playoffs by pulling off the unlikeliest of victories against the Raiders on national TV in Week 16. Flores pulled Tua with the offense sputtering in the fourth quarter with the rookie totaling just 94 passing yards on 22 passes (4.3 YPA) through 49 minutes. Fitz instantly created some magic with 182 passing yards and a touchdown in the final 10 minutes of action, which included arguably the best throw of the entire 2020 season with the Dolphins trailing by two points. Fitz completed a miraculous 34-yard pass to Mack Hollins down the left sideline with 19 seconds left with his helmet being ripped off. The king of the trick pass, Patrick Mahomes, dubbed it “the best no-look pass of all time.” Fitz earned an additional 15 yards for the defender nearly ripping his face off, which set up a Jason Sanders’ 44-yard field goal for the 26-25 victory.

The game that got away

The Dolphins faced a win-and-in scenario against the Bills in the season finale to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Unfortunately, The Dolphins came out flat against the AFC East champions and they got run off the field in the first 30 minutes. They also didn’t have Fitzpatrick to potentially bail them out as he did in Week 16 as he landed on the COVID-19 list. Josh Allen threw three touchdown passes to stake the Bills to a 28-6 halftime lead, which allowed Buffalo to pull many of their best players in the final 30 minutes. Tua then threw three second-half INTs to end any chances for a miraculous Dolphins comeback in a disheartening 56-26 loss as three-point road favorites.

What to look for this off-season

The Dolphins will decide between building around Tua this off-season or going all-in after another franchise quarterback like Deshaun Watson. The Dolphins already own Houston’s #3 overall pick this spring as part of the compensation for Laremy Tunsil, and that pick will be a big part of any trade for another quarterback or it will be a big part of the offense they build around Tua. Miami owns two first-round and two second-round selections in this year’s draft so this off-season could go in a couple of different directions. If they do decide to build around Tua, they desperately need to inject some speed into the lineup at WR to help him improve as a downfield passer after he had a passer rating of just 76.7 on 20+ yard passes. The Dolphins will also be looking to bolster their O-line and to land an early-down grinder at RB after last year’s failed experiment with Jordan Howard.

3. New England Patriots (7-9, 7-9 ATS)

  • Best Bets: Under 9.5 wins (win, .8 units, 7-9)
  • Leans: None.

What went right

The Patriots didn’t have a whole lot go right for them in their first season in the post-Tom Brady era — TB12 was on the roster from 1999 through 2019. New England failed to win the AFC East for the first time since 2008, which was the last time it played without Brady after he tore his ACL in the season opener. The Patriots’ top-ranked defense from 2019 dropped off a bit, but they still allowed the seventh-fewest points per game (22.1) and the 14th-fewest yards per game (353.8). New England managed to get to seven wins with a non-existent passing game thanks in large part to strong offensive-line play and tough running from lead runner Damien Harris. When the Patriots did have success through the air, it typically went through Jakobi Meyers. He emerged as the top option when he got the chance to play after Julian Edelman’s knee injury, posting 58/722/0 receiving in the final 11 games.

What went wrong

The Patriots went from having one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Brady to one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league in Cam Newton. The former 2015 NFL MVP played nowhere near his old standards, posting career-lows in TD passes (8) and passing yards per game (177.1) in 15 starts. It didn’t help that he was playing with arguably the league’s worst receivers in the league with 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry continuing to look like a bust. The Patriots were also put in an extremely tough position before the season even started with an NFL-high eight players opting out for the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. Add it all up and the Patriots won five fewer games in 2020, which means they fell one winning season short of matching Dallas’ NFL-best 20-year stretch with a winning record from 1966-1985.

The game they stole

The Patriots kept their slim playoff hopes alive at the end of November when they beat the Cardinals 20-17 in Week 12. Cam completed just 9/18 passes for 84 yards (4.7 YPA) and two INTs and New England’s offense totaled just 179 yards on 51 plays (3.5 yards per play), but they still walked away with a victory on Nick Folk’s 50-yard field goal at the buzzer. New England’s defense came up with a pivotal goal-line stand before halftime to keep the game from becoming a two-score game, which proved critical because of the Patriots’ offensive woes throughout the game.

The game that got away

The Patriots gave away control of the AFC East in 2020 for the first time in 12 years, and the Bills cemented their spot at the top of the division with their 24-21 victory over the Patriots in Week 8. The loss dropped the Patriots to 2-5 overall and the win moved the Bills to 6-2, giving them a stranglehold in the division over New England. Cam moved the Patriots into position to tie or beat the Bills in the final minute, but he fumbled away their chance in the red zone with 37 seconds left in the game.

What to look for this off-season

Bill Belichick seemed hell-bent on proving his genius by neglecting the quarterback position last off-season, and the decision bit them in the butt with teams daring them to throw the ball by the second half of the season. The Patriots were content to give Jarrett Stidham a chance after the early part of free agency and after the draft before changing course and signing the cast-off Cam during the summer. Unlike last off-season, the Patriots should avoid half-measures and get serious about addressing their quarterback position by any means necessary. They also need to revamp their entire receiving corps after they received no significant contributions at WR and TE last season outside of Meyers. New England should look to lock up free agents Joe Thuney (LG) and David Andrews (center), who each graded out as two of the better players at their respective positions.

4. New York Jets (2-14, 6-10 ATS)

  • Best Bets: Under 6.5 wins (win, +1.6 units, 2-14); To finish with the fewest wins +1400 (loss, -.25 units, second-fewest)
  • Leans: Jamison Crowder under 825.5 receiving yards (win, 699 yards)

What went right

Nothing. The Jets couldn’t even correctly tank in the final month of the season, which cost them a chance to draft a potential generational quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. The 2020 season will be a season that Jets fans will want to quickly erase from their memories (if Lawrence ever lets them). At least LT Mekhi Becton, the toolsy 11th overall pick from last spring, lived up to the hype in his first season. The massive (6’7”, 364 pounds) 21-year-old prospect showed flashes of being the team’s anchor at left tackle for the next decade. New York’s defensive line, led by Quinnen Williams and Foley Fatukasi, was also one of the clear strengths of this last year’s team. Williams posted seven sacks in 13 games in his sophomore season, and the Jets allowed just the seventh-fewest yards per rushing attempt (4.0) last season. They also started their rebuild by trading a disgruntled Jamal Adams to the Seahawks for two first-round picks and a third-round selection.

What went wrong

Adam Gase’s disastrous tenure came to an end after a 9-23 run (.281) over two seasons in New York. The Jets had Lawrence firmly in their grasp after opening the season winless through 14 weeks, but they went and won two of their final three games to hand the #1 overall pick to the Jaguars. They were in a position to potentially land Lawrence because their current quarterback, Sam Darnold, regressed in his third season in Gase’s awful offense. He got off to a bad start with his top perimeter WRs out of the lineup before his season went off the rails because of a throwing shoulder injury. The Jets finished dead last in yards per game (279.9) for the second straight season and they went from ranking 31st in points per game in 2019 to last in 2020 (15.2). Le’Veon Bell couldn’t even make it through two full seasons in New York before the franchise ran him out of town in October. The Jets were a flat-out embarrassment in 2020 and the laughingstock of the league.

The game they stole

I’m looking at the Jets season a little differently since their own fans wanted them to lose every game by the end of the year to draft Lawrence with the #1 overall pick. The Jets trailed by 11 points to the Raiders well into the fourth quarter of Week 14 before Darnold and Ty Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns to grab a 28-24 lead, which had the Jets precipice of winning their first game in early December. DC Gregg Williams certainly did his part to keep the Jets from winning with his play-calling late in the game. He sent a zero-blitz that didn’t get home with just five seconds left, which allowed Derek Carr to connect with a wide-open Henry Ruggs for the game-winning 46-yard touchdown. The 31-28 loss kept the Jets in the driver’s seat for the top overall pick until they screwed everything up the next week.

The game that got away

The Jets ruined their no-so perfect run in Week 15 against the Rams when they won their first game of the season. Los Angeles entered the week as 17.5-point home favorites against the previously winless Jets, but the Rams fell behind by 17 points in the third quarter and they couldn’t overcome the deficit in a 23-20 loss. The Jets scored the biggest point-spread upset of the season, and New York was one of just five teams to win outright as underdogs of 17 or more points since 1978. The game proved costly not only for the Rams, who fell out of contention for the NFC West title, but it also ruined the Jets’ chances of selecting Lawrence to be their franchise quarterback for the next decade.

What to look for this off-season

The Jets will need a dramatic turnaround in 2021 to end their 10-year playoff drought. They last qualified for the postseason in 2010 with Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez leading the way. New York now has the longest active playoff drought with the Browns and Buccaneers each snapping their droughts in 2020. New HC Robert Saleh has his work cut out for him, and the first order of business for Saleh and GM Joe Douglas will be figuring out who their quarterback will be in 2021 and potentially beyond. The Jets will try to pry Deshaun Watson away from the Texans this off-season and they could also draft Justin Fields or Zach Wilson with the #2 overall pick. The third and most likely option is that they give Darnold, who will be just 24 years old next season, one more chance to develop. If they decide to give Darnold one-last shot, they can use the #2 overall pick to help him by drafting stud OT Penei Sewell or one of the hot-shot WRs in Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith. The Jets obviously have plenty of holes across their entire roster, and their decision at quarterback will influence many of their other moves this off-season.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.

Recent Articles