NFL Season Schedule Changes and Updates
As the most popular pro sport in America, the NFL is relevant 365 days a year. For the first time since 1978, when the slate went from 14 to 16 games, the NFL lengthened the regular season again this year. The 2021 NFL schedule was released on May 12 and all 32 teams will play 17 games during the 18-week season.
Week 1 opens with Dallas visiting defending NFL champion Tampa Bay on September 9. The week ends with Las Vegas hosting Baltimore in the Monday Night Football fight. Regular season action concludes with Seattle visiting Arizona on Jan. 9, 2022. Wild Card Weekend, Divisional Round playoffs, and Conference Championship Sunday follow. The season ends with Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Cali.
AFC East Division Futures Odds
Will Buffalo repeat as division champions? Or will New England bounce back and reclaim their throne? Can Miami build on their best season since 2016 and will the Jets snap a 10-season playoff drought?
Those are key questions sports bettors will ponder when considering the 2021 AFC East Division championship odds and team win totals. While prices are subject to change, as NFL Kickoff Thursday draws closer, here is a look at the early odds on AFC East futures betting options.
For the first time since 2009, a team other than New England claimed the AFC East Division regular-season title. After knocking on the door with a 10–6 record in 2019, Buffalo kicked the door down as they won the division with a 13–3 record. Beginning to move forward, during a franchise rebuild, Miami finished second with a 10–6 record. Cementing his GOAT status, QB Tom Brady joined Tampa Bay, culminating with his seventh Super Bowl victory. His former team, the Patriots, finished third with just seven wins. The Jets continued to be, well, the Jets. Gang Green lost 13 straight games before finishing last overall with a 2–14 record.
Always the case, AFC East teams will play each other twice during the regular season. The four AFC South squads, two contests against AFC North and AFC West teams, plus five games against NFC clubs, round out the AFC East schedule. Buffalo dominated the division last season (6-0) and the teams around them all made significant personal moves during the offseason. While it’s a “chalky” selection, it’s difficult to see anyone surpassing a stacked Buffalo squad. I'll be backing the Bills to repeat as AFC East champs.
AFC East Champion Prediction: Buffalo Bills (-155) moneyline
AFC East Division Futures Hedging
If bettors trust the Dolphins or Patriots, their underdog odds present a possible late-season hedge opportunity. If either team is close, or leading the division, a bet on the other contender may set up a guaranteed profit. Hedge betting is a personal choice and opinions vary across the betting community. Recreational bettors should always be on the lookout for hedge opportunities. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
We track our preseason picks and publish hedge betting advice during the regular season when warranted. SI premium subscribers receive betting plays, updates, and articles as soon as they are published.
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AFC East Win Total Futures - Buffalo Bills
Continuing his path to stardom, QB Josh Allen led Buffalo to a 7–3 record before the Bills closed the regular season with six straight wins. The addition of stud receiver Stefon Diggs helped Buffalo finish second in scoring as they averaged 31.3 points per game. That was just a shade behind the 31.8 ppg posted by Green Bay.
Following a slow start, the Bills' defense surged late in the season as they allowed 18.3 ppg over the final six contests. In the playoffs, Buffalo defeated Indianapolis (27–24), and Baltimore (17-3), prior to losing 38–24 to Kansas City in the AFC Conference championship game.
- Key Players Resigned: OT Daryl Williams, OT Daryl Williams, LB Matt Milano
- Key Additions: WR Emmanuel Sanders, TE Jacob Hollister, QB Mitch Trubisky
- Key 2021 NFL Draft Picks: DE Gregory Rousseau, DE Carlos Basham Jr.
- Key Departures: WR John Brown, TE Tyler Kroft, DT Quinton Jefferson
Bills Win Total Prediction: Buffalo Bills OVER 11 (-110) wins
AFC East Win Total Futures - Miami Dolphins
After posting a combined 18–30 record during the previous three seasons, Miami made a statement in 2020. The Dolphins finished second in the AFC East standings with a 10–6 record.
The 2019 “Tank For Tua” campaign was fruitful as Miami ended up drafting Alabama Crimson Tide QB Tua Tagovailoa as the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Miami was 3–3 when Tagovailoa passed Ryan Fitzpatrick on the depth chart, and the Dolphins went 7–3 the rest of the way. Miami was one-win behind the Colts in the race for the final AFC playoff spot. I expect a one-win drop-off in 2021.
- Key Players Resigned: LB Vince Biegel, LB Elandon Roberts, WR Mack Hollins
- Key Additions: WR Will Fuller, CB Justin Coleman, DT Adam Butler,
- Key 2021 NFL Draft Picks: WR Jaylen Waddle, DE Jaelan Phillips
- Key Departures: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, DT Davon Godchaux, EDGE Kyle Van Noy
Dolphins Win Total Prediction: Miami Dolphins UNDER 9.5 (-135) wins
AFC East Win Total Futures - New England Patriots
The reigning AFC East champions over 11 straight seasons, New England hit a wall last year. The Patriots finished with a 7–9 mark and recorded their first losing record since 2000.
The 2020 NFL season confirmed that QB Tom Brady was the key cog in the Pats' championship engine. New England scored just 326 total points (20.3 ppg) on offense. It’s the first time the Patriots scored less than 410 points since the 2008 season. Hailed as a preseason-saver, QB Cam Newton lacked a supporting cast and ranked 24th overall with just 2,657 total passing yards. A 10–7 record feels about right this season.
- Key Players Resigned: C David Andrews, DT Lawrence Guy, PK Nick Folk
- Key Additions: WR Nelson Agholor, WR Kendrick Bourne, TE Hunter Henry
- Key 2021 NFL Draft Picks: QB Mac Jones, RB Rhamondre Stevenson
- Key Departures: OT Marcus Cannon, DT Adam Butler, S Patrick Chung
Patriots Win Total Prediction: New England Patriots OVER 9 (-120) wins
AFC East Win Total Futures - New York Jets
AFC East cellar-dwellers, for the fifth time over seven seasons, New York finished with a 2–14 record last year. From QB Sam Darnold not improving, to the offense posting an NFL low 15.2 points per game, and the defense giving up 28.6 ppg, it was a long season.
Hope springs eternal (again) for Gang Green fans as New York selected QB Zach Wilson with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The hope is that he doesn’t turn out to be yet another long-term disappointment after years of Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Sam Darnold, and many others. Personally, I will be tempering my expectations. A total team rebuild is still not complete for the Jets.
- Key Players Resigned: FS Marcus Maye, RB Josh Adams
- Key Additions: WR Corey Davis, WR Keelan Cole, RB Tevin Coleman
- Key 2021 NFL Draft Picks: QB Zach Wilson, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker
- Key Departures: QB Sam Darnold, QB Joe Flacco, RB Frank Gore
Jets Win Total Prediction: New York Jets UNDER 6 (-105) wins
More NFL Betting from Sports Illustrated
- 2021 NFC East Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook
- 2021 AFC North Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook
- 2021 NFC North Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook
- 2021 AFC South Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook
- 2021 NFC South Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook
- 2021 AFC West Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook
- 2021 NFC West Team Futures - Division Winner and Win Totals Outlook