The NFL is back, and Sportsnet is breaking down everything you need to know about the 32 teams looking to book a trip to Super Bowl LVII.
Kickoff for the 2022 regular season is set for Thursday, Sept. 8 and today we look at the AFC East.
2021 record: 11-6, first in AFC East, beat New England in wild-card round before losing OT classic to Kansas City Chiefs in divisional round
Notable roster additions: DE Von Miller, WR Jamison Crowder, G Rodger Saffold III, DT Harrison Phillips, DT DaQuan Jones, TE O.J. Howard, CB Kaiir Elam (2022 1st round pick), RB James Cook (2022 2nd round pick), Ken Dorsey promoted to offensive coordinator
Notable roster subtractions: QB Mitchell Trubisky, CB Levi Wallace, DE Mario Addison, WR Cole Beasley, WR Emmanuel Sanders, Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll
The good news: The Bills were 13 seconds away from reaching the AFC championship game as they went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs in one of the best NFL games in recent memory. With the addition of future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher Von Miller, the Bills should be right back in the conversation for the Super Bowl. Josh Allen had an MVP worthy season and will look to build on that with new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey who took over for Brian Daboll.
Rookie running back James Cook (the younger brother of Vikings star Dalvin Cook) could provide the Bills with a formidable running game which has always been something the team has been looking to improve. Cook’s ability to open up the run game could help open things up for the passing game as Allen still has a strong group of receivers to work with led by Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie and newcomer Jamison Crowder.
The bad news: The Bills will need to show they can overcome another playoff heartbreak. It will be tough to erase the memory of the 13 seconds that could have been, but a new season provides a new opportunity. The pressure will be on this group to perform as this is a Super Bowl or bust year for Buffalo.
The Bills road to the playoffs will not be an easy one as they will have a tougher schedule to play through this year, going up against some quality opponents like the Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals. When it comes to the division, the AFC East is expected to be tougher with the Miami Dolphins looking to make strides on offence and the New England Patriots expected to take another step forward. It is still the Bills division to lose but it isn’t expected to be a walk in the park.
Super Bowl Odds: +600
Division Title Odds: -230
Wins Total: 11.5 wins (Over -135/Under +115)
2021 record: 9-8, third in AFC East, missed playoffs for fifth consecutive season
Notable roster additions: WR Tyreek Hill, OT Terron Armstead, RB Chase Edmonds, RB Raheem Mostert, LB Melvin Ingram, WR Cedrick Wilson, QB Teddy Bridgewater, C Connor Williams, head coach Mike McDaniel
Notable roster subtractions: WR DeVante Parker, WR Will Fuller, QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Phillip Lindsay, CB Jason McCourty, RB Duke Johnson, head coach Brian Flores
The good news: The Dolphins have made it a point to surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with some quality targets and a dynamic big-play receiver in Tyreek Hill. They won’t just rely on Tagovailoa to do it all himself as they made sure to improve the offensive line and added running backs Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds to join Myles Gaskin.
Considering his work in San Francisco, new head coach Mike McDaniel should bring some of that innovation to South Beach. Jaylen Waddle had a strong rookie season setting an NFL rookie record with 104 receptions in 2021 and now they will hope to see more dynamic plays with Hill taking some of the attention away from him.
The bad news: As good as the offensive additions were this off-season, the Dolphins defence will be the big question mark in 2022. The defensive secondary is strongg with Xavien Howard leading the NFL in interceptions with 27 since 2016. They brought in Melvin Ingram to bolster their pass rush and will need their younger players like Jevon Holland, Jaelen Phillips and Christian Wilkins to take the next step.
The success and failure for this season relies on how the relationship between Tagovailoa and first-time head coach McDaniel works even with the offence looking better on paper. The schedule doesn’t do Miami any favours as they start the season against the Patriots, Ravens, Bills and Bengals. If they can find a way to survive those tough early matchups, they’ll get some relief with some easier opponents but the AFC remains a tough conference to sneak into the playoffs.
Super Bowl Odds: +4000
Division Title Odds: +400
Wins Total: 8.5 wins (Over -135/Under +115)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
2021 record: 10-7, second in AFC East, lost to Bills in AFC wild-card round
Notable roster additions: WR DeVante Parker, RB Ty Montgomery, S Jabrill Peppers, LB Mack Wilson, WR Tyquan Thornton (2022 2nd round pick)
Notable roster subtractions: CB J.C. Jackson, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, C Ted Karras, LB Kyle Van Noy, OG Shaw Mason, LB Don’t’a Hightower, RB James White
The good news: Mac Jones’s rookie season was a promising one, which is encouraging considering he had big shoes to fill. He led all rookie quarterbacks with 3,801 passing yards and 22 touchdowns and going into 2022, he should be able to improve on those numbers especially with the addition of Parker. The Patriots have been looking for a dependable receiver that can handle a high volume of targets and be a red zone threat.
What makes the Patriots a tough team to play against is the strong foundation under head coach Bill Belichick relying on a stingy defence, a run game that added versatile running back Ty Montgomery to take over for James White following his retirement. They also believe they will be a faster, tougher defence to play against with an emphasis on dominating the line of scrimmage.
The bad news: The biggest question mark facing the Patriots is how they respond to the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. It’s not really known how the who will call the plays on offence and whether the off-season additions will be enough to keep them in the playoff conversation.
According to Sharp Football, New England has the eighth-most difficult schedule in the NFL this season so they will have their work cut out for them to make the playoffs in a tough AFC conference. They will be without rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton who suffered a fractured clavicle which could keep him out for at least eight weeks. The Baylor product was carving out a role for himself as a vertical threat that could stretch the field which is something this receiver group lacks. They will also have to see whether they can replace the production of cornerback J.C. Jackson who joined the Los Angeles Chargers after a Pro-Bowl season.
Super Bowl Odds: +4000
Division Title Odds: +500
Wins Total: 8.5 wins (Over -115/Under -105)
NEW YORK JETS
2021 record: 4-13, fourth in AFC East, missed playoffs for 11th consecutive year
Notable roster additions: CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (2022 1st round pick), WR Garrett Wilson (2022 1st round pick), DE Jermaine Johnson II (20221st round pick), (Breece Hall 2022 2nd round pick), S D.J. Reed, S Jordan Whitehead, LB Jake Martin
Notable roster subtractions: WR Jamison Crowder, OT Morgan Moses, DE Shaq Lawson, S Marcus Maye
The good news: The Jets recent crop of drafted players provides reason for optimism about their future, especially since they were able to get Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and Garrett Wilson with their two picks in the top 10. There is also the same excitement for rookie running back Breece Hall and first-year defensive end Jermaine Johnson II who slipped down in the draft.
It remains to be seen if the Jets did enough to lift them from the basement of the NFL but there’s reason to believe that they can push to contend for the playoffs especially if their young players step up. If Zach Wilson can cut down on his turnovers and be a more consistent and accurate passer he should be able to put it all together. Former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler has been making the most of his playing time leading the Jets to three comeback victories in pre-season.
The bad news: Unfortunately for the Jets and Wilson, the young quarterback suffered a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his right knee that required arthroscopic knee surgery. There is a chance he can return in time to start Week 1 but the last thing they should do is put more pressure on their franchise quarterback who didn’t inspire a lot of confidence with his play last season.
New York also has a big question at left tackle with Mekhi set to miss his second straight season with a knee injury after he suffered a fractured kneecap. The Jets had moved Beckton to right tackle as he was replaced by George Fant during the 2021 season and was the better option on the left side. If the Jets can’t find a way to keep the pressure off Wilson, it’s going to be tough to expect the offence to take off in the way it needs to.
Super Bowl Odds: +12500
Division Title Odds: +2200
Wins Total: 5.5 wins (Over -145/Under +125)