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2018 over/under predictions for the Patriots and the rest of the AFC

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If it’s football season, then it’s also gambling season!

New England Patriots v New York Giants Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Football season is back. You what that means? Gambling season is officially upon us. I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate than by predicting the over/unders for the AFC. I’ll do that in this column, followed by the NFC for my next column. Sounds like a plan, Stan.

(Over/under win totals courtesy of OddsShark.com)

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: 6

Congrats to the Bills on their special season last year, when they went 9-7 and broke their playoff drought of nearly two decades. But the 2018 season won’t be quite so fairy tale-ish. Not only is Tyrod Taylor gone and Buffalo’s quarterback will either be an incredibly raw rookie (Josh Allen) or a former backup who is terrible (Nathan Peterman), but the Bills are playing an absolutely brutal schedule.

For the first half of the season, they are at Baltimore, home against the Chargers, at Minnesota, at Green Bay, home against Tennessee, at Houston, at Indianapolis, at New England. They’ll be incredibly fortunate to come out of that stretch at 3-5, but realistically it’ll be more like 2-6 or 1-7. Good luck, Bills fans.

Final verdict: Under

Miami Dolphins: 6.5

The Dolphins have been buying into Ryan Tannehill since 2012 and they typically get the same thing every season, barring an overachieving playoff appearance in 2016. Not much should be different this year. Miami’s schedule is no cakewalk; they start at home against Tennessee, at the Jets, home against Oakland, at New England. They are probably 1-3 after that stretch, and it doesn’t get much better after that.

To wrap up the season, they are home against New England, at Minnesota, home against Jacksonville, at Buffalo. I just can’t see them winning more than maybe six games.

Final verdict: Under

New England Patriots: 11

It’s been a strange offseason for the Patriots, as they can’t seem to hang on to a wide receiver to save their lives. Brandin Cooks was traded, Julian Edelman was suspended, Danny Amendola left in free agency, Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt, and Malcolm Mitchell were all released, and Eric Decker retired.

New England is depleted at the receiver position, but they still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and therefore it’s hard to imagine them winning less than 11 games. Only about seven of their games seem losable, and since they are the Patriots, they will find a way to win at least three or four of those games. Every year they have something stacked against them, but they always figure it out.

Final verdict: Over

New York Jets: 6

There are few things in life that make me happier than making fun of the Jets, but I can’t shake the feeling that those days will be ending in the near future. They finally have a quarterback – this year’s No. 3 overall draft pick Sam Darnold – who looks like the real deal, and they officially decided that he will be their starter for Week 1.

Is Darnold going to deliver them to the promise land right away? Probably not. But he looks darn good, and he can probably win them a little more than six games. If Darnold has a good season, I could see him getting them to seven or eight wins.

Final verdict: Over

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens: 8

Baltimore’s schedule is of about medium-level toughness, but behind John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco, they are basically just a team fighting to stay above water. They’ll probably be a .500 team for the first portion of the season, but once they hit a middle stretch of games at Tennessee, home against New Orleans, at Carolina, and home against Pittsburgh, things will start to unravel.

We might not be seeing much more of Harbaugh and Flacco together.

Final verdict: Under

Cincinnati Bengals: 6.5

I’ve never been a believer in Andy Dalton. It’s hard to be a believer in Marvin Lewis when he’s never won a playoff game. A.J. Green is pretty good and all, but he’s stuck on an eternally underachieving team.

Cincinnati’s schedule isn’t the scariest thing in the world, but I just don’t think they have the goods to make any real noise. In my opinion, six wins sounds just about right.

Final verdict: Under

Cleveland Browns: 5.5

It’s hard to imagine many people taking the over for the Browns, but honestly, any wins of any kind are good for Cleveland fans right about now. Last year they went 0-16, and they have a head coach in Hue Jackson whose overall record is 1-31. Does it get any more embarrassing than that?

The Browns are building for the future though. In a couple years, they might be relevant. But right now, even with Tyrod Taylor, they are still the bottom feeders of the NFL. On the plus side, though, they’ve got Baker Mayfield to look forward to sooner or later.

Final verdict: Under

Pittsburgh Steelers: 10.5

The Steelers have just about everything you could want. They have one of the more respected coaches in the league (Mike Tomlin). They have one of the better quarterbacks in the league (Ben Roethlisberger). They have one of the best running backs in the league (Le’Veon Bell) and one of the best wide receivers in the league (Antonio Brown).

However, another thing they have is a defense that got absolutely torched by Blake Bortles in the playoffs last season. That’s right … BLAKE BORTLES.

Pittsburgh should win the AFC North with ease, but they have a handful of really tough games scattered throughout their schedule: Kansas City, Atlanta, at Jacksonville, at Oakland, New England, at New Orleans. They’ll win at least one, maybe two, of those games, but they will also lose at least one of them by about 30 points.

Overall, it seems like an 11-5 kind of year for them. They will probably be a top three seed in the AFC, but if they can’t get that defense shored up … yikes.

Final verdict: Over

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: 8.5

This could be a special year for the Texans as long their key players stay healthy, which is what really sank their season last year. J.J. Watt broke his leg, Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice, and the rest was history.

But those guys are back and healthy this year. Houston has a potentially explosive offense with Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, and probably a top five defense in the league. But the AFC South is tough. Luckily Houston’s schedule isn’t overly terrifying, minus a few scary stops along the way. They open the season at New England, at Tennessee, home against the Giants, at Indianapolis – a stretch they can probably come out of at 2-2, or maybe even 3-1.

If that’s the case, they’ll be in good shape to play out the rest of their schedule. I see the Texans finishing somewhere along the lines of 9-7 or 10-6 with a pretty good shot of the making the playoffs.

Final verdict: Over

Indianapolis Colts: 6.5

Sorry, Colts fans. You’ve got Andrew Luck back, but after having not played in almost two years, is he going to be able to carry this team on his back through a tough AFC South division?

Even if the Colts stay afloat in the first half (which will be no small task), their second half schedule has them at home against Jacksonville, home against Tennessee, home against Miami, at Jacksonville, at Houston, home against Dallas, home against the Giants, at Tennessee. That’s a pretty tough back eight.

Looks like 2018 just isn’t Indy’s year to get back into the hunt.

Final verdict: Under

Jacksonville Jaguars: 9

The Jags are getting only nine games, despite having the most dominant defense in the league and coming just minutes short of making the Super Bowl last year. Sure, Blake Bortles will probably lose them a game or two, but they have Leonard Fournette to make up for most of his blunders.

I think Jacksonville is winning at least 10 games this year – if not more – as well as its second straight AFC South title.

Final verdict: Over

Tennessee Titans: 8

Tennessee seems like a solid team; they even won a playoff game last year. But their 2018 schedule isn’t doing them any favors. They start the season in brutal fashion: at Miami, home against Houston, at Jacksonville, home against Philadelphia. They probably come out of those four games at 1-3, possibly 0-4 if they catch a bad break.

The schedule lightens up a bit after that, but once you’re in a hole, it’s hard to dig out. Plus, the Titans still have more games against the Jaguars and Texans, as well as the Cowboys, Patriots, and Jets. The future is bright in Tennessee, but I think they take a step backwards this year and finish somewhere along the lines of 7-9, missing the playoffs.

Final verdict: Under

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: 7

Fed up with quarterbacks like Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch, the Broncos decided to hire Case Keenum to recapture the magic he found in Minnesota last year. Only problem is, Keenum was never really all that special until he happened to catch lightning in a bottle in 2017, leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

Even with Keenum, I can’t see the Broncos doing anything special in 2018. They’ve got multiple games against Kansas City and Oakland, as well as games against the Jets, the Rams, the Steelers, and the Niners. Those games will be tough.

Sorry, Denver.

Final verdict: Under

Kansas City Chiefs: 8.5

I like Patrick Mahomes a lot (he’s the backup QB on my fantasy team). He could be really, really good, even as a first-year starter. And then along with Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins, Kansas City could have a pretty spectacular offense.

They have tough games against the Steelers, Patriots, Jaguars, and Rams, but I think the Chiefs are good enough that they could steal maybe one or two of those games. I see them finishing the season somewhere around 9-7 or 10-6, but 11-5 wouldn’t surprise me either.

Final verdict: Over

Los Angeles Chargers: 9.5

Every single year that I’ve watched the NFL, I’ve never once bought into Philip Rivers and/or the Chargers, and I’m definitely not going to start now. It doesn’t matter if they play in San Diego or Los Angeles. I’ve got them going 7-9 this year.

Final verdict: Under

Oakland Raiders: 8

The Raiders are my 2018 sleeper team. After they went 6-10 and missed the playoffs last year, then fired their coach, absolutely everybody wrote them off. Lots of people think they are going to be terrible.

I’m not sure what my exact feelings are about Jon Gruden, but I think he’s going to make a difference. He’s remodeled the offense to an extent, adding Jordy Nelson go along with Amari Cooper in the receiving core. Then of course, there’s Beast Mode, the hometown hero Marshawn Lynch. This Oakland offense is being completely underrated, in my utmost humble opinion.

The over/under win total is set at eight, but I’m picking them to surprise everybody and go 10-6 or 11-5 to win the AFC West. Am I crazy? Well find out.

(Side note: I initially made this pick before Oakland traded Khalil Mack, so now I have no idea what to expect from this defense. The Raiders are now being even more written off than they already were, which I find fascinating. As tempted as I am to retreat on this pick, I’m going to stick with it. Lord help me.)

Final verdict: Over

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for the NFC over/unders, which will probably be coming your way either Tuesday or Wednesday. Much love.