2019 AFC EAST PREVIEW
By Marc Lawrence
Welcome to my 2019 AFC East division preview, with excerpts from the 2019 PLAYBOOK Football Preview Guide magazine.
In addition to the previews outlined below, these interesting scheduling statistical notes merit consideration, compliments of the 2019 MTI Regular Season NFL Win Report:
Buffalo – Bills will face 3 foes with a Thursday game on deck, 3 foes with a Monday game on deck, and 3 foes in the 2nd of two or more away games … -5 net turnovers in 2018.
Miami – Dolphins will face 2 foes coming off a bye week …+5 net turnovers in 2018.
New England – Pats have failed to play ‘under’ their season win total 10 straight years … will face 3 foes coming off a bye week … +10 net turnovers in 2018.
NY Jets – Jets will face 2 foes coming off a Thursday game, and 2 foes coming off a Monday game … -10 net turnovers in 2018.
TEAM THEME: TAKE A LOOK AT ME NOW
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 6.5 (over -160)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 125
Some say the best part of dating a Buffalo Bills fan is that you know she ain’t looking for a ring. It may be cruel but the fact of the matter is it’s been a long time (1995, 23 seasons ago) that Buffalo last enjoyed a playoff win. It’s also been since 2006 the last time the Bills opened a season with their first two games on the road – and both of them in the same stadium, no less. It’s been even longer when Buffalo was featured on Thanksgiving (1994). And so former Dallas Cowboy Cole Beasley, signed by Buffalo as a free agent in the offseason, returns to the Big ‘D’. It’s part of a brutal four-game season-ending trek for the Bills when they meet Baltimore at home and then hit the highway again for consecutive road games at Pittsburgh and New England in December. Ironically, Buffalo will also take part in what could be a quintet of 2018 first-round quarterback battles when Bills QB Josh Allen faces Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold (twice). Through it all, GM Brandon Beane is at the forefront of a massive reconstruction, bringing Ken Dorsey in as its quarterback’s coach. Dorsey worked for five seasons with NFL MVP Cam Newton in Carolina and figures to polish up Allen’s skills. Aside from reforming the roster with plenty of free agent signings the past two seasons, Beane appeared to hit a home run with defensive tackle Ed Oliver with the ninth pick in this year’s draft. Oliver figures to make everyone around him better with his freakish athleticism. Bills fans attending games nowadays will finally need a program, and that’s a good thing.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: 2019 marks the 8th year in the last 9 seasons in which the Bills will feature a new wide receivers coach.
PLAY ON: vs. Baltimore (12/8)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Bills are 1-21 SU in division games the L9Y when they commit 2 or more turnovers.
TEAM THEME: WE’VE SEEN THIS BEFORE
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 5 (under -120)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 132.5
Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel in South Florida put it best when he said that not having the burden of winning in the first year for a new regime is often the head fake of any rebuild. So it is for new Dolphins GM Chris Grier and new mentor Brian Flores. As a result, Grier didn’t fill holes in the offseason, he made them. Gone are Miami mainstays Ryan Tannehill, Cam Wake, and Robert Quinn. In is young, cheap talent with an upside (read: AAF signees). In other words, meet the “Miami Apollos”. No, it won’t be quite that bad for Flores and Grier, not with the addition of talented QB Josh Rosen, the former 10th pick in the 2017 draft acquired via a trade on Day Two of this year’s NFL Draft from Arizona. While Rosen’s 66.7 Passer Rating as a rookie with the Cardinals did not jump off the page, it was higher than the rookie ratings of Tom Brady, John Elway, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning and Troy Aikman – Hall of Famers all. Remember, the Fins allowed 6,257 yards last season, the worst in franchise history, while the offense gained fewer than 200 yards in five games. And for all of this, Adam Gase is the Jets’ new sideline boss. WTF? And so the rebuild begins.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Miami is 42-18 SU at home in September since 1980.
PLAY ON: vs. New England (9/15)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Dolphins are 11-27 ITS in December since 2006.
New England Patriots
TEAM THEME: JEWELED BY KRAFT
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 11 (over -150)
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 120.5
Following last season’s 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, iconic QB Tom Brady now owns a Super Bowl ring for every round of players that were drafted ahead of him. Meanwhile, Pats owner Robert Kraft owns enough jewelry to keep his name off courtroom dockets. It was also the first time since 1972 (Miami Dolphins) that a team lost a Super Bowl game one season and came back to win the Super Bowl the following season. So what does New England do for an encore this season? It’s always difficult for defending Super Bowl champions to play to the same level the following season. Making matters worse, the retirement of megastar TE Rob Gronkowski and top free agent Trey Flowers, along with multiple staff departures, certainly leaves a void. So what will life be like with the fallout of the aforementioned personnel? As one NFL executive put it, “Belichick is the guy who climbs Everest without oxygen just to see if he can do it. It’ll work out for them.” Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and Dante Scarnecchia are still there, and that’s key. With it, New England is chasing Dallas’ record of 20 straight winning seasons, and ironically the Pats will host the Cowboys the final Sunday in November. From a schedule standpoint, the Patriots take on the softest itinerary in the league from an opponent season-win projection. This also marks the third straight year the Pats will close the season with consecutive home games. Life is great if you’re a Patriot.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Bill Belichick is 17-1 SU in the playoffs against foes that he did not face during the regular season.
PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at Washington (10/6)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Patriots have 3 or more turnovers in only 6 of their last 101 games.
New York Jets
TEAM THEME: GASE MY WAY
Westgate SuperBook Season Win Total: 7.5
Opponents’ Collective Season Win Total: 122.5
Some way, somehow, Adam Gase managed to convince acting Jets owner Christopher Johnson that he was their man. In typical Gase fashion, his first move was a power struggle with GM Mike Maccagnan, resulting in Maccagnan’s firing. Gase then promptly traded away LB Derron Lee. The fact of the matter is Gase’s primary objective is to develop Sam Darnold into a Pro Bowl-caliber franchise quarterback. If he does that, no one will care about what happened this offseason. If it doesn’t, Mr. Congeniality will be looking for work sooner than later. We have serious reservations, though, given the fact that Gase’s offenses in Miami declined each and every season during his three-year tenure with the Dolphins, ranking 24th, 25th and 31st. Furthermore, Gase’s system threatens to choke out Darnold’s potential by ordering him to throw too many too-short passes. Perhaps the addition of RB Le’Veon Bell, an excellent receiver out of the backfield, will aid in the transition. Visit FootballOutsiders.com for more on the metrics involved in Gase’s shortcomings and you can draw your own conclusions. Also, check out our STAT YOU WILL LIKE below for more on Gase’s inadequacies. Through it all, the Jets enjoyed a strong Draft led by the selection of Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama with the 3rd overall pick. On paper, the Flyboys look improved. On the sidelines, they come up short.
STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Miami Dolphins averaged 7.7 Penalties Per Game under Adam Gase, the 2nd worst in the league the past three seasons.
PLAY ON: at Miami (11/3)
INSIDE THE STATS: The Jets are 5-23 SU and 8-16-1 ATS in games in which they’ve been outyarded the L3Y.
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