This post originally appeared on Cold-Brewed Bets.
I can’t begin to express how much I love the NFL.
While the rest of the world has the four seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, I only experience two seasons: Football Season, and Waiting for Football Season.
And since I started betting, Waiting for Football Season has become almost as fun as Football Season itself.
If there’s one thing betting has done for me above all else, is it’s helped me look at sports on a much deeper level that goes far beyond the box score or wins and losses.
And that’s what makes this time of year so fun. You have an entire season's worth of data and opinions on teams from the previous year - and now you have to try and predict if those teams are going get better, stay the same, or get worse; without actually seeing them play a game.
So now what I’m going to do over the next handful of articles is share my thoughts on each team for the upcoming season based on my ratings and projections - as well as any bets I’m placing, or considering placing.
This is more an exercise for me than it is for anyone else, as I find writing out my thoughts helps me see teams in a different way.
I may like something when looking at my numbers, but then look at the team in the context of the division and schedule they play, and then end up talking myself out of a bet. Or vice versa.
And if there’s one lesson I’ve learned since I started betting, it’s that often the bets you don’t make are the ones that help you win more long-term.
Here’s how these previews are going to work…
For each division I’m going to do a very general team-by-team breakdown, share where I have them projected to finish in terms of win totals compared to the market, and look at their current odds to win the super bowl, conference, division, and make/miss playoff markets - along with any bets I see value in or am making.
Some of these division previews will likely end up without any bets. The way I look at it, at this point in the year, if I’m going to be tying up money on bets that won’t get graded until January, I have to be almost certain I’m making a bet that isn’t going to be there before the season starts.
However, just because I may not have any bets, doesn’t mean you can’t. My hope is that these previews help you look at teams in different ways that may help you find a valuable bet or two to make.
So let’s get to today’s preview…
Note: Teams are ranked in order of where they are projected to finish based off their current market win totals.
2023 NFL Betting: AFC East
What better place to start these 2023 NFL betting previews than with probably the hardest division to predict - the AFC East.
This is a division that features a perennial super bowl contender with a top 5 QB, a team that probably would have made the playoffs last year if their QB hadn’t suffered multiple concussions, a team that many thought was a QB away from being a Super Bowl contender and this offseason traded for a HOF QB, and lastly a team lead by arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time.
Like I said, looks like a fun one.
1st Place - Buffalo Bills
At the time of writing this preview, I have the Buffalo Bills as my highest power-rated team.
Looking back to last year, Buffalo was also the team that was consistently rated the highest in the market from the beginning of the season to the end.
In the Sean McDermott/Josh Allen era, this has been one of the more consistent teams year to year. And I suspect going into the 2023 season the market will look at them that way again.
They didn’t really have any significant losses this offseason and as we’ll talk about in a moment, I think they’re going to have a hell of a time in this division, they’re still one of the best teams going into 2023.
Odds (All odds according to the Westgate Superbook in Nevada)
Super Bowl/Conference: +800/+500
Make/Miss Playoffs: -250/+200
Win Total: 10.5, O/U -130/+110
Because Buffalo is my highest rated team, I show valuable bets across the board here.
However, it’s very unlikely I will be making any right now.
While I project Buffalo as an 11.5 win team this year, I will admit this probably comes with a higher degree of variance than the average team because of the competitiveness of their division.
I have Miami, the Jets, and New England all rated higher going into this season than they were coming out of last year - and in the Jets’ case significantly higher.
Not only is Buffalo in a more competitive division this year, but they also slightly over-performed last year according to their Pythagorean win total projections (Proj. Wins - 12, Actual Wins - 13).
Not a huge difference, but combined with the likely strength of this division this year, I can’t bet Buffalo over their win total, and I don’t see any value anywhere else on the board right now either.
2nd Place - New York Jets
Thanks to the addition of my former QB, Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are projected to make a big leap forward this year and finish second in the division based on win totals.
It’s anyone's guess how Rodgers is going to perform on a brand new team at this point in his career, but I think it’s safe to say that as long as he stays healthy, the Jets are worthy of a significant upgrade over the team we saw last year lead by Zach Wilson and Mike White.
The defense is really good, and they added a few of Rodgers buddies to bolster the skill positions. If the offensive line can hold up, they will be a contender. Let’s look at their odds.
Super Bowl/Conference: +1200/+700
Make/Miss Playoffs: -155/+135
Win Total: 9.5, O/U -145/+125
I have the Jets sitting 8th in my power ratings currently, but only have them projected to win 8.6 games - 13th most among my ratings. Which just again speaks to the volatility in a competitive division like this.
On top of that, they also have games against the Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, and Cowboys. So the Jets have a lot of what we could consider toss-up games this year, and it’s really hard to bet an over on a win total in that situation on a team where you’ve never seen this coach-QB tandem before.
Which is why I feel like there may be value in playing an under here - maybe in an alternate win total market when those open where you can get a big +200 or better.
One thing keeping me off an under right now is the Jets were near the bottom of the league last year in turnover differential, at -7.
The thing with turnovers is they tend to vary a lot from one year to the next because they are so random. Sure you have certain QBs who will throw more interceptions than others, but for the most part, TOs are a stat that more often than not tends to regress toward the middle.
So chances are - especially now with a QB not known for turning the ball over - the Jets TO margin will improve this year, and possibly even swing to the positive - which, usually, increases their likelihood of winning more games.
I have a 20/1 ticket on the Jets to win the Super Bowl from when the Aaron Rodgers trade rumors first started, so I’m content with that for the time being. At 12/1 in a very competitive AFC, I would not make that bet now, however.
3rd Place - Miami Dolphins
I just know this is a team that is going to flummox me all year.
I love Mike McDaniel. I like what this team has done in the offseason. But I’ve seen nothing to convince me that Tua can propel his team above the likes of Buffalo and NY right now.
Miami has a lot of talent on offense. But with few exceptions, nothing works great in the NFL for long. So I have questions about the effectiveness of Miami’s offense with a full season of tape, and a QB who I frankly just need to see more from in terms of being in the discussion with the other great AFC QBs.
There’s also the issue of the multiple concussions Tua suffered last year, and the very real possibility he’s one more away from his career being over.
So I have to factor that in when looking at my season-long projections. Let’s look at some odds…
Super Bowl/Conference: +2500/+1350
Make/Miss Playoffs: -110/-110
Win Total: 9.5, O/U -110/-110
I have Miami projected for the same amount of wins as the Jets - 8.6. So I lean towards the under here. But as is the theme of this division, I think the distribution of outcomes is too large to find any valuable bets right now.
And much like the Jets, Miami suffered from poor turnover luck last year; also carrying a -7 TO differential. With some upgrades on defense, and Tua likely starting more games, they’re due for a positive regression as well.
4th Place - New England Patriots
The projected worst team in this division has arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time - in case we need any other reminders how nuts the AFC East could be this year.
The thing that intrigues me about New England is that last year they won 8 games, but their Pythagorean win totals had them playing like a 9-win team. So in other words, they slightly underperformed.
And that was while also running probably the worst experiment ever in Matt Patricia calling plays.
Now they have an actual offensive play-calling coach in Bill O’Brien running their offensive - novel concept I know - and the quotes coming out from Mac Jones are really positive.
Combine that with their offseason moves, which I really can’t find a reason to downgrade them for, and I think this is the one team in this division with the most potential to over-perform expectations.
Super Bowl/Conference: +10000/+6000
Make/Miss Playoffs: +240/-300
Win Total: 7.5, O/U -110/-110
I have the Patriots projected for 8.1 wins - slightly above what the market does. But based on what I mentioned above, I could make a case for the over.
One thing keeping me off it right now, however, is New England was tied for the 4th best TO differential in the league last year at +7. So with some potential negative regression coming here, that gives me pause.
The only other bet that intrigues me here is Christian Gonzalez to win Defensive Rookie of the Year at 10/1. New England has the reputation recently for pumping out really good CBs and many considered Gonzalez one of the top CB talents in this year's draft.
This is a bet I’m still pondering, but it’s on my radar.
AFC East Bets:
Jets 20/1 to win the Super Bowl from early March. Would not bet at current numbers.
AFC East Bets I’m Still Considering:
Jets Alternate Season Win Total Under - markets not open yet.
Miami Win Total Under 9.5, and Alternate Season Win Total Under.
New England Win Total Over 7.5.
Christian Gonzalez Defensive Rookie of the Year 10/1 or better.
Are there any valuable bets you see in this division? Let me know in the comments.
Stay tuned for our next issue later this week when we preview the NFC East!