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Beast of the East: Can Patriots Keep Up With Bills?

Buffalo has won the last two AFC East crowns, and is heavily favored for a third in 2022.

Once upon a time in the era of Brady, the New England Patriots ruled the AFC East like a ruthless dictator. Four teams played, but in reality it was a one-team division.

From 2009-19 the Patriots of Bill Belichick-Tom Brady won 11 consecutive division championships and sprinkled in three Super Bowl titles. After Brady's arrival in Foxboro in 2000, New England won the AFC East an almost unfathomable 17 times in 20 seasons.

But in 2020 the iconic quarterback left, and took New England's stranglehold with him. With his departure and the rise of Josh Allen in western New York, the AFC East now belongs to the Buffalo Bills.

While the Patriots haven't won a playoff game since Brady left, the Bills have captured the last two division titles and are heavy favorites to win again in 2022 while also being a trendy Super Bowl pick out of the AFC.

If the changing of the guard was in question, last January's 47-17 dominating playoff victory over the Patriots in Orchard Park answered it ... with a resounding exclamation point. The Bills set an NFL playoff record by scoring a touchdown on all seven possessions and sent New England into a long, cold offseason of reflection about a second-year quarterback without enough weapons and a defense that completely ran out of gas after December.

Las Vegas oddsmakers predict more of the same in 2022.

While the Patriots will be underdogs in a season opener for the first time in six years when they visit the Dolphins Sept. 11, they are favored in Week 2 at the Steelers and in Week 3 at home against the Ravens.

Ultimately, however, they are picked to finish behind Miami in the final standings.

If oddsmakers are correct, the Patriots will go 0-2 against the Bills, 1-1 against the Dolphins and 2-0 against the Jets. New England is an 8-to-1 longshot to sweep Buffalo.

A look at this season's AFC East betting projections:

Patriots vs. Bills

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Buffalo Win 2-0 -130

Series Tied 1-1 +150

Patriots Win 2-0 +800

Patriots vs. Dolphins

Series Tied 1-1 -110

Dolphins Win 2-0 +260

Patriots Win 2-0 +260

Patriots vs. Jets

Patriots Win 2-0 +120

Series Tied 1-1 +120

Jets Win 2-0 +500