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Backfield Twosome Invades AFC East

August 16, 2023
new running backs

The AFC East had been dominated by the New England Patriots over the course of two decades, and the other three teams never threatened. That’s no longer the case, especially when quarterback Tom Brady left to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

It’s been the Buffalo Bills winning the division the last three seasons (records of 13-3, 11-6 and 13-3), and the western New Yorkers are expected to be serious contenders once again. That may be the case, but the other three teams have improved as well. 

The New England Patriots and New York Jets both made moves Monday to improve their rosters, perhaps altering this division. New England signed former Dallas Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott (one-year deal), the Jets inking ex-Minnesota Viking back Dalvin Cook.

Elliott spent the first seven seasons of his career in Dallas. New England needed help in the backfield, and is paying a base salary of $3 million to sign the three-time Pro Bowler. 

Meanwhile, Gang Green and Dalvin Cook agreed to a one-year deal worth $8.6 million. The ex-Norseman has been selected to the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons in the NFC, but the Vikes have gone in a different direction. 

Here is a look at how the AFC East now stands, according to NFL division odds

  • Buffalo Bills +125
  • New York Jets +250
  • Miami Dolphins +300
  • New England Patriots +800

The other team in the mix, the Miami Dolphins, expected to get quarterback Tua Tagovailoa back this season. Miami has a roster that’s deep, but its task became somewhat tougher.


Meanwhile, at Meadowlands

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has the New York Jet fans thinking big this season, and the signing of running back Dalvin Cook only added to that. Rodgers, a proven winner in the NFL with his days at Green Bay, comes to a Jet team that’s really struggled recently. 

As per NFL playoff odds, New York is -140 to make the postseason, +110 to miss it.The team’s win total this season is set at 9½. Take the over at -135, or the under (+105). 

New York may be much improved this season, but each team in this division can be as well. 


Patriots to Struggle?

While the odds are listing New England Patriots as 8-1 (+800) rank outsiders to win the AFC East, it’s difficult to ever count out Bill Belichick.

Mac Jones is the starting quarterback in New England, and he knows how to win. Ezekiel Elliott is at least going to provide depth in the backfield. He was on winning teams in Dallas.

Odds of the Pats getting to the postseason are set at +240, while missing ‘em is at -330. Granted, a lot would have to go right to get to the team in the playoffs, hence the value.

There’s a regular-season win total of just 7½ (over at +105, under at -135), and it’s going to take more than that to advance.

Regardless of whether Elliott has anything left in the well, New England should offer a strong defense and that can stop some of the loaded offenses in the division.