ESPN.com issued its off season report cards on the AFC East for 2017 while Gambling911.com offers its picks for the best futures odds in which to wager on.
New England Patriots – Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com explains why the Pats will still be dominant in 2017-2018:
They maximized their short-term window around Tom Brady. It's weird to say for a team that just won the Super Bowl, but the Patriots conducted most of this offseason like they want to build the best team possible over the next two seasons, as opposed to building a team that is more likely to be great four or five years down the line. It explains their move to trade a first-round pick for Brandin Cooks, who is signed for the next two years at a total of just over $9.2 million. It justifies their aggressive decision to head into free agency and sign Gilmore in lieu of replacing Logan Ryan with a draft pick. They traded for or signed guys in their prime, including Dwayne Allen, Lawrence Guy and Kony Ealy.
Crucially, they also held onto Malcolm Butler instead of trading him before the cornerback leaves in free agency, as the Patriots did with contemporaries Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins last year.
It is important to note that the critical parts of Bill Belichick’s coaching staff has stuck around.
Get them early to win Super Bowl 52 at a pretty decent price of 3-1.
Buffalo Bills – They picked up an extra first-round pick in the 2018 draft by trading down. They also cleaned house from the coaching staff down. While ESPN.com gave the Bills a B grade, we would go with the UNDER 6.5 regular season wins in 2017.
New York Jets – The Jets went all-in with their rebuild and bolstered their beleaguered offensive line. But what about the new quarterback?
They signed Josh McCown to play quarterback. It's hard to see the logic in adding McCown, who has been a replacement-level passer over his career, besides one magical half-season in Chicago four years ago. McCown also struggles to stay on the field, so he isn't even a reliably healthy mediocre quarterback. The argument in favor of McCown -- as is always the case for old, white quarterbacks -- is that he'll bring along New York's young passers as a mentor, but it's bunk. McCown has been in the league long enough to mentor JaMarcus Russell, Matt Moore, Caleb Hanie, Mike Glennon, Johnny Manziel and Cody Kessler, and none appears to be better off for the privilege.
The oddsmakers have no faith in the Jets in 2017, listing them with 5 regular season wins and favored to go UNDER. But there is little value in paying -140 for this to happen.
Miami Dolphins – ESPN.com gives Miami a D+ for their offseason activity.
There were positives:
Adam Gase's Dolphins used their first three picks to add sorely needed depth on defense, most notably edge rusher Charles Harris in the first round. Harris has the best case to eventually be standing as the long-term replacement for the 35-year-old Cameron Wake, but given how Wake looked after recovering from a torn Achilles last season, he might never come off the field.
Additionally, they bought low on trades for Julius Thomas and William Hayes.
And then the negatives:
They didn't supplement their offensive line. Part of the opportunity cost in spending so much on guys who profile as third wideouts or two-down linebackers is that the Dolphins weren't able to commit resources to the interior of their offensive line. It made sense for Miami to ship out the disgruntled Branden Albert and move Laremy Tunsil to his natural position at left tackle, and the team is set on the right side with Ja'Wuan James, but the interior is ... spotty.
Part of the problem is that Mike Pouncey hasn't been able to get healthy. Pouncey is a Pro Bowl-caliber center when on the field, but he hasn't made it through 16 games since 2012, and he missed 11 games with a hip ailment last season. He underwent a stem cell procedure for the hip this spring, but the Dolphins have little behind him. They will have to hope that Anthony Steen, who was forced into the lineup last season, can hold up at guard alongside converted tackle Jermon Bushrod, who simply wasn't very good but still found his way back on a one-year, $3 million deal. Offensive linemen were hard to come by this offseason, but the only notable additions Miami made were Bears castoff Ted Larsen and fifth-round pick Isaac Asiata.
They also repeatedly outspent the market to bring back their own players.
The Bills and Jets might not be much better in 2017 so we can certainly see the Dolphins hitting the .500 mark. Oddsmakers have them winning 7.5 but the OVER priced at an unappealing -125.
- Don Shapiro, Gambling911.com