Branded Bets 2019 NFL Preview: AFC East

We are currently in the midst of one of the most exciting times of the year. Summer is still in full swing, albeit the end is in sight, but the temperature is closer to 88 than 98. White Claws are still flowing freely. We still have Labor Day weekend to look forward to. But most importantly; the smell of football is in the air. This is the time of year where we can stop pretending that baseball is exciting. We can talk ourselves into getting pumped for preseason NFL games where 90% of the players on the field will be selling insurance in a month. It doesn’t matter; football season is here and it feels great.

Here at Branded, we have been known to put the occasional dollar on the games now and then. Last year, we hit at a 58.3% clip over the course of the whole regular season, which is a higher percentage than most professionals hit. Granted, the NFL season is a small sample size, but we were consistent throughout the year and there is no reason to think there won’t be more of the same in the coming months. We hope you follow our content here and on Twitter @BrandedBets.

To kick things into gear, we are going to preview each division before the season starts. We will examine each team in their current state, what we expect of them this season, spots to bet on them and against them, and determine if there is any value in their season win totals. Without further ado, let’s begin with the least competitive division in all of football for over a decade, the AFC East.

Buffalo Bills

Overview: Its strange to say that a team that went 6-10 outperformed expectations, but I honestly thought last years Bills team had the potential to be one of the worst in NFL history. The team infamously started with Nathan Peterman at QB, but after he reminded everybody that he is Nathan Peterman, the team turned to first round draft pick Josh Allen. Everybody knew that Allen was tall and could throw the ball a mile, but in college, he had the accuracy of a hungover guy trying to take a piss at 5am with morning wood. Allen would hold onto the job for the whole season (aside from a few games missed due to injury) and play a hell of a lot better than most people thought. The most surprising aspect of his game was his rushing, as Allen amassed 80 yards per game over the final six weeks of the season, making him a viable starting fantasy QB. Go figure.

The Bills looked terrible for much of the season, but other weeks they looked miraculously competent. This was never more true than in Week 3 when Allen led the 0-2 Bills into Minnesota and won a game that I swore they were gonna lose by 30+. While there is not much of a chance of the Bills being a playoff team this year, they can definitely be a pesky opponent if taken lightly. Buffalo during the Winter is never exactly fun for opponents to travel to, and they get to play the Jets and Dolphins twice. Still, there is a good chance the league catches up with Allen, who should have been an unmitigated disaster last year, and they could be worse in 2019 than they were in 2018. The team is still very thin at the WR position, which sucks because sometimes Allen has to, you know, throw the ball.

One guy fantasy players should keep an eye on is rookie third round running back Devin Singletary, who could be the teams starter sooner rather than later, as only senior citizens LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore are currently ahead of him on the depth chart.

Spots to bet or fade: I think the Jets are going to wipe the floor with the Bills at home on week 1. The Jets actually do appear to be a better team now than last year and are going to look to make a statement during their home opener. New York is currently only a 3 point favorite, in what will be perceived as a batter between two potential last place teams. But I would be shocked if the Jets win by less than 6.

On the other hand, the Bills have a home game on October 27 against the Eagles, who will be playing their third road game in as many weeks. They will be looking to get into Buffalo and get out, as they then only have one home game vs the Bears and then get to rest for their bye, and if the Eagles are a road favorite of a touchdown or more, which is rare in the NFL but very possible in this, look to play the Bills in what will likely be a very ugly game.

Season Win Total: 6.5 with the over juiced to -165. This total implies that they expect Allen and the Bills to take at least a small leap forward this year. My initial reaction, as stated above, is that I actually think they could be worse this year than last year, as many of their six wins were flukey. I like the under here. Lets say they win one game against the Jets and one against the Dolphins (I am not penciling them in for sweeping Miami). They would have to then find five wins somewhere in the rest of their schedule, which includes two games against the Pats(NO), at Tennessee (NO), Eagles and Redskins at home(1-1 at best), at Browns (NO), home vs Denver (MAYBE?), at Dallas (NO), home vs Ravens (MAYBE??) and at Pittsburgh (NO).  I gotta say, I don’t see it at all, and I’ll gladly take plus money, +115 to be exact, on the Under.

 Miami Dolphins

Overview: Common sense (and the fact that they have basically admitted it) tells us that the Dolphins are punting their 2019 season to put themselves into position to draft a quarterback from next year’s draft class. Tua sure would look really good in a Miami uniform to be honest. The only thing that could be standing in the way is the bearded one himself, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who always seems to pull three or four games per season out of his ass and look like the greatest QB who ever lived before throwing five interceptions the following week. Their lack of impact players at skill positions will make that difficult though, as Devante Parker is still somehow on this team and looking great in practice as always before putting up next to nothing in games, and Albert Wilson has joined him to add speed and not much else. Miami also interestingly enough added quarterback Josh Rosen, who was a first round pick only one year ago, in a seemingly no risk, high reward transaction, but word out of camp is that hes getting crushed by Fitzmagic. It’s hard to figure the logic here though; this team is not going to be good, so if Rosen plays and is “ehh” but not great, what do they do then? Maybe they feel that if Rosen ends up being a steal and plays well, they can trade their pick for a smorgasbord of picks, but that would mean Rosen showed them something he clearly did not show Arizona. It’s kind of a mess.

Anyway, the Dolphins are gonna stink this year.

Spots to bet or fade: Logic says they will win a game or two here and there over the course of the season. A good bet may be November 17 at home against the Bills. If the Bengals are in tank mode by week 16, we could see the Dolphins beat Jeff Driskel. And yes, Ill say it, for some weird reason, the Patriots always suck in Miami and will have to travel to hot, sticky Florida week 2. Stranger things have happened. They also play New England in New England week 17, so they will surely be playing New England’s back ups, but depending on their draft spot, they may not want to win that game. This team is going to stink

Season Win Total: 4.5. An article I read says the sharps are on the over here. That is actually not surprising because sharps don’t look at teams they look at numbers. Most teams fall into 5 wins over the course of a season, so sharps are looking to take advantage of public perception here. Bet that at your own risk though; our money is going nowhere near either side for this team.

New England Patriots

Overview: The Patriots need no introduction. The Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era has been one of the most dominant runs in all of sports, and even father time has struggled to bring this dynasty down. When they have to win pretty, they win pretty, as we saw in the AFC Championship game against the Chiefs. When they have to win ugly, they win ugly, as we saw in the Super Bowl. But this team defies handicapping as much as its QB defies aging. I remember being so sure the Patriots run was over in September of 2014 (!!!!) when the Chiefs  handed them a 41-14 defeat on Monday Night Football. Here we are five years later, and they are still annual Super Bowl favorites. That was a bad take by me, but I wasn’t alone. Check out this hilarious article from Bleacher Report. As ridiculous as it seems now, I felt the same way at the time.

This team is just ridiculous and seems to defy logic. If a safety gets hurt, they’ll pick up a guy your team cut 4 weeks ago because he was burnt toast every down. And he’ll play like an all-pro. If an offensive lineman gets hurt, they’ll find a guy who played at Western Oregon 2 years ago and has been laying sheet metal for the last 8 months, and he’ll do a serviceable job. It’s just ridiculous and I have just vowed to stop trying to predict when their reign will end. Yes, playing their shitty division opponents every year helps, but they take care of business in the post season, so they deserve respect. As much as it hurts many to admit all of this, it is easy for me to be so kind to the Patriots, because of this:

As much as the world is Brady’s oyster, I actually think this team is going to rely less on him this year, only because their running game is dynamic. Sony Michel enters his second year after breaking out in a big way in the 2018 postseason, but the team also drafted the beast from Alabama, Damien Harris, and he could absolutely vulture some tuddys. Don’t forget James White, who is always a threat to go off for 10 receptions, and then there’s good old Rex Burkhead. So yeah, it’s a crowded but talented backfield and this is where the offense is going to thrive this year. Do not draft Tom Brady in your fantasy league expecting him to be a top 10 QB.

Spots to bet or fade: Barring a Brady injury, the Patriots will be a favorite in most games they play this season. Sharps love to play underdogs, but nobody has gotten rich fading this team over the past decade. It is certainly possible that at age 42, Brady starts to show some cracks here and there, but as I mentioned before, I am not going to try to guess exactly when that is going to happen. Looking at the schedule, there aren’t many clear fade spots. Playing at Philly will be tough, but they will be coming off a bye and will be out for revenge for Super Bowl LII. Honestly, I think there is value in the Patriots Week 1 vs the Steelers in Foxborough. The Patriots are six point home favorites on Sunday Night Football, and as somebody who thinks the Steelers are going to take a big step back this year, I think the Pats roll here.

Season win total: 11.5. Pass for me, as I never mess with team totals this high. They could be 11-4 heading into week 17 and if their playoff position is already determined, you’ll be relying on Brian Hoyer to win the bet. It’s not worth worrying about and there is not enough value here to make a play. There will be plenty of ways to make money off this team in the regular season.

New York Jets

Overview: For the first time in ages, there is some optimism surrounding the Jets this season. They have a new head coach who at one point was a blue-chip coaching prospect. I remember being mad that the Eagles did not get him and had to settle for Doug Pederson. I am clearly an idiot. Anyway, this guy is, if nothing else, a psycho.

They have young talent at the WR position with Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson lining up on the outside and solid veteran Jameson Crowder in the slot. They signed star running back Le’Veon Bell and their first round pick, DE Quinnen Williams, is a monster. But with this team, it is all going to come down to the QB. Second year starter Sam Darnold will determine if the Jets make anything resembling a playoff push this season. He has looked great in camp, but he has always looked unreal in practice. The issue with Sam is the interceptions; not only did he throw 15 in his rookie season, he had a history of throwing to the wrong team in college too. I am not saying that he cannot get better and overcome this penchant, but historically QBs with a knack for risky throws do not suddenly stop doing this.  The best case for Darnold could be that he ends up being a gunslinger like Brett Favre in that he makes enough good throws and jaw dropping plays that it makes up for the interceptions, but there is a reason very few QB’s with that mentality have had sustained success. It will be very interesting to see how Darnold does in year 2. After all, Adam Gase was able to get the best out of Jay Cutler, so it will be fun to see if he can help Darnold reach his full potential.

Spots to bet or fade: Pound the shit out of the Jets -3 Week 1 vs the Bills right now. This line is going to close at over a field goal. I love this bet so much; it might be my favorite of the week. As I have stated, I am very low on the Bills and even if the Jets don’t end up being anything special, you have to think the players and fans will be extra pumped up to be playing week 1 at home with a new coach, a new star RB and a new attitude. I think the Jets are going to win this game by 10 easily. After that hits, if you want to press your luck, Week 2 the Browns come to town for a MNF game. I can see the Browns showing up flat on the road here, and suddenly the Jets are 2-0 and everyone jumps on the hype train. Then they go to New England Week 3 and the Patriots crush them.  You can book it, this is how it is going to go down.

Season win total: 7 with the over heavily juiced. Can this team be a .500 team? That is a great question and since we haven’t seen the new look Jets play yet, I would advise against it. Looking at the schedule, I would say that home vs Bills, home vs Dolphins, home vs Giants, home vs Raiders are likely wins. That is four wins. Are there four more in home vs Browns, at NE, home vs NE, at Philly, at Jacksonville, at Dolphins, at Washington, at Cincy, at Baltimore, home vs Steelers, and at Bills? They definitely win three of those, right? The only problem here is that I think that a push is very likely, so in cases like this I would opt against laying heavy juice on the over. You don’t want to be in a spot where you have to care about a Week 17 Jets at Bills game. I do think this team is going to go 7-9 or better, but I don’t like betting on teams that haven’t shown me shit yet, and I don’t like laying heavy juice on a team total, so I would advise you to sit this out, even if I would be very surprised if they win 6 or less.

Best Team Total Bet for the Division: Bills under

As I mentioned earlier, I think this team gave off the false impression last year that they are heading in the right direction. This total is where it is because the public expects the Bills to be slightly better this year than they were last year, but I watched their wins last year and they were more flukey than promising. The Bills are in for a 5-11 season.

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