AFC East Division Winners: Can Anyone Challenge the Bills’ Supremacy?


Thanks to one of the most eventful NFL offseasons of all time, the bridge between last year’s Super Bowl and next year’s opening kickoff has felt a little shorter than usual.

Still, to fans, summer’s arrival means our desire to consume all things football grows to nearly uncontainable levels. Talk shows, podcasts and Twitter timelines are zeroing in on the upcoming NFL season. Fantasy drafts and competitions are popping up left and right. Sportsbooks are taking bets on futures like division, conference and Super Bowl champions.


Throughout June and July, I’m going to attempt to feed your hunger for NFL content by previewing every division. I’ll cover key division storylines, provide a breakdown for each team and give out my pick to win each division.

(Check out the division previews so far: NFC East | NFC NorthNFC SouthNFC WestAFC NorthAFC South | AFC West)

AFC East Preview

The Bills will circle the wagons and look to secure their third straight AFC East title in 2022. The last team to three-peat in the AFC East other than the New England Patriots? The Buffalo Bills … all the way back in ’91, the same year the World Wide Web went public. It’s been a while. 

It won’t be easy, though. The Patriots almost stole the division back from Buffalo last season, and the Miami Dolphins made a blockbuster move this offseason to help out their young quarterback. The New York Jets almost certainly won’t compete for a division title, but they received an infusion of young talent through the draft and figure to be improved from last season.

1. Buffalo Bills

(FanDuel Sportsbook division title odds: -180) 

The two-time defending AFC East champs will enter 2022 as one of the biggest divisional favorites in the NFL. In fact, the Bills have the best odds to win the Super Bowl at FanDuel at +650. If Buffalo wants to live up to the hype, it’ll have to do so without Brian Daboll, its former offensive coordinator who played a big role in Josh Allen’s ascension into the elite tier of quarterbacks.

Josh Allen 2022 AFC East Division Preview

Allen, the odds-on favorite to win the NFL MVP, is the biggest reason why the Bills are projected to run through the AFC East again with relative ease. His dual-threat nature has bolstered an otherwise average running game over the past two years, and his rocket arm has made Buffalo’s passing attack one of the most explosive in the NFL.

The Bills also made it a point to keep Allen surrounded with talent this offseason. They extended Stefon Diggs, signed Jamison Crowder and drafted versatile Georgia running back James Cook. In addition to providing Allen with ample playmakers, Buffalo patched up its offensive line by adding veteran guard Roger Saffold.

The real headline, however, was made on the defensive side when the Bills signed two-time Super Bowl champ Von Miller to a massive contract. Miller should more than replace a couple pass-rushing pieces that Buffalo lost in free agency, and he’ll bring championship experience to a team that has failed to get over the hump up to this point. 

If the Bills stay healthy, Allen should have no issue carving up opposing defenses with the likes of Diggs, Crowder, Dawson Knox and Divisional Round darling Gabriel Davis on the outside. The Bills also bring back the core of a top-10 defense along with the addition of Miller. Buffalo likely has its sight set on the Super Bowl, not just the AFC East. 


2. Miami Dolphins

(FanDuel odds: +400)

All the debate about Tua Tagovailoa should be put to rest this season after the Dolphins traded for Tyreek Hill. The former Chiefs wideout will play alongside fellow speedster Jaylen Waddle and make up perhaps the most electric receiving duo in the NFL. If Tua can’t get the job done with those two, tight end Mike Gesicki and a stable of solid running backs, his time in Miami may be limited.

Last season, the Dolphins crawled out of the gate, beginning the season with a putrid 1-7 record, including a loss to the then-winless Jaguars. In Week 9, they flipped a switch – and benefitted from a weak schedule – to finish the season 9-8. If they can build on that momentum and effectively incorporate Hill into the offense, the ‘Fins should fare a lot better than they did during the first half of last season.

Miami also brings back the majority of its top-10 defense, including cornerback Xavien Howard, who was rumored to want out. If the Dolphins want any shot at challenging the Bills, they’ll need another solid year from the defense and substantial development from Tua.

Outside of the quarterback position, the Dolphins have a super-talented roster. That’s not to say Tua isn’t talented, but the ceiling of this team firmly depends on the quarterback play, similar to the 49ers with Trey Lance

3. New England Patriots

(FanDuel odds: +400)

The Patriots reign of terror over the AFC East was over the second Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay, but now it’s really official. There was serious hope last season after the Pats defeated the Bills in Buffalo and extended their division lead, but they ultimately let it slip. Then, for good measure, the Bills absolutely smashed the Patriots in the Wild Card Round, 47-17.

Mac Jones 2022 AFC East Division Preview

Now, Mac Jones and company will look to retool and get back to New England’s winning ways. The Pats didn’t make any big waves in free agency, but they added complementary pieces like wide receiver DeVante Parker and defensive back Jabrill Peppers. That may not, however, be enough to make up for the departures of J.C. Jackson, Shaq Mason, Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy.

Simply put, the Patriots don’t have the talent to compete with Buffalo over a full season, and Bill Belichick’s black magic won’t be enough to bridge the gap. The Patriots have always been good in the trenches, and they project to have a top tier offensive line again, but the defensive line figures to be subpar according to our own Brenden Deeg

Call me a hater, but I don’t think Mac Jones can do enough to overcome some of New England’s deficiencies. If he levels up to be a Pro Bowl quarterback with the likes of Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor on the outside, I’ll happily eat my words. The running game will be great, and the defense will be fine, so the Patriots can certainly finish ahead of Miami, but they lack the firepower to keep up with the Bills. 


4. New York Jets

(FanDuel odds: +2000) 

If you’re a Jets fan and you’re reading this, bravo. In fact, you probably knew you could open the link and scroll directly to the bottom of the page to read about 250 words on why your favorite team will disappoint you again. That kind of die-hard fandom is what makes sports so great.

Anyway, yes, the Jets are longshots to win the AFC East and most likely won’t challenge for the division title. With that being said, the Jets did make serious strides this offseason, at least on paper. 

Second-year QB Zach Wilson is the franchise’s most important asset and New York made moves to help him. They selected star Ohio State wideout Garrett Wilson with one of their three first-round picks in April’s NFL Draft, and they took unanimous All-American running back Breece Hall in the second round. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Hall will pair well with Michael Carter, the compact and twitchy second-year back out of North Carolina who averaged just about as many yards per reception as Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler.

Those weapons, plus returning impact players Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Carter, should help Wilson develop and showcase his ability to be the franchise’s quarterback of the future. On top of building out the skill positions around their quarterback, the Jets solidified their offensive line. 

Defensively, New York struggled to stop just about anyone last season. On the ground, through the air, didn’t matter. Again, though, there is a silver lining. To shore up the secondary, the Jets took cornerback Sauce Gardner with the fourth overall pick in the draft, signed safety Jordan Whitehead and added cornerback D.J. Reed

If Zach Wilson improves and the Jets’ plethora of young talent develops together in 2022, fans will enter the following season with the most optimism they’ve had in years.

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