AFC East: Week 5 Preview

With Vince Wilfork out for the season, the New England Patriots face yet another obstacle.

With Vince Wilfork out for the season, the New England Patriots face yet another obstacle.

Week 5 in the AFC East got off to an early start as the Buffalo Bills hosted the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. The matchup, which looked like a stinker on paper, turned into a decent game, much to the chagrin of Thursday Night Football haters everywhere.

The rest of the division will be in action on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, the New England Patriots will look to remain undefeated as they head for the Queen City, while the Miami Dolphins will look to bounce back from a first loss of the season. Then on Monday night, the New York Jets will travel to Atlanta in a bid to procure a winning record.

Read on for the BettingSports.com preview of what’s left of the AFC East schedule in Week 5. We’ll start though with a quick look at Thursday night’s game.

Buffalo Bills 24, Cleveland Browns 37

A late charge from the Cleveland Browns saw off the Buffalo Bills.

A late charge from the Cleveland Browns saw off the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills (2-3) lost an injury-plagued game Thursday night, falling 37-24 to the improving Cleveland Browns (3-2).

Buffalo saw both quarterback E.J. Manuel and receiver Stevie Johnson leave the field of play, while Cleveland had quarterback Brian Hoyer carted off the field in the first quarter. Still, surprising most that tuned in, the two offenses were solid and put together a high-scoring and competitive game, at least until the Browns made a break for it in the fourth.

The Bills are now 0-2 on the road, and look unlikely to curb a trend that has seen the team struggle on the road in recent and not so recent years. The Bills have won just eight road games since the start of the 2009 season.

For the second time this season – and second time in three games – the Bills (3-2-0 ATS) failed to cover the spread. Cleveland (3-2-0 ATS) meanwhile covered for the third straight game, each time in a straight up win.

The total went over for the third time in four Bills games. Buffalo (3-2-0) has favored the over while Cleveland (3-2-0) has favored the under.

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Sun, 1:00 p.m. ET) (matchup)

The return of Rob Gronkowski could take some pressure off Tom Brady.

The return of Rob Gronkowski could take some pressure off Tom Brady.

Despite entering Week 5 undefeated, the New England Patriots (4-0, 2-0 road) are very much a team shrouded in uncertainty. Without the majority of last year’s receiving core, lacking a solid running attack, missing Vince Wilfork (Achilles), questioning when Rob Gronkowski (forearm/back) will return, and trying to put the Aaron Hernandez scandal in the rearview mirror, this is a Patriots side that’s certainly lacking in stability. Yet it continues to win.

New England should get its toughest test of the season so far with Sunday’s trip to the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2, 2-0 home). The Bengals are another team that has raised as many eyebrows as questions. Looking to make the postseason for a third consecutive season, something the franchise has never achieved, the Bengals have spluttered early this year and most of us are waiting for the real side to stand up and be counted. A win over the Patriots would go some way to doing that.

The Patriots continue to be decimated by injury. The team is no closer to knowing when Gronkowski will return. He’s listed as questionable this week but ESPN Boston is reporting that an insider doesn’t expect him to start Sunday. Danny Amendola (groin) is also listed as questionable, but he hopes to play against the Bengals. RB Stevan Ridley is out while his backfield counterparts Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington are questionable. Rookie wide outs Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson are also questionable. Either Bill Belichick’s playing games (likely) or the New England medical staff is on double pay.

Cincinnati (-118) opened as a (very) narrow favorite on the moneyline but many sportsbooks aren’t willing to sell on the underdog Patriots (-102) just yet. New England certainly has history on its side. The Patriots have won four straight against the Bengals and taken seven of the last eight dating back to December 1993. All told, the Patriots lead the head-to-head series 14-8.

The spread opened at 1 in favor of the Bengals, but many bookies have flipped allegiances and now have the Patriots as a 1.5-point favorite. Neither New England (2-2-0 ATS) nor Cincinnati (2-1-1 ATS) has been outstanding against the spread this season.

The total opened at 45. New England (1-3-0) has favored the under while Cincinnati (2-2-0) has split the under/over evenly.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL (Sun, 1:00 p.m. ET) (matchup)

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is in desperate need of some protection.

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is in desperate need of some protection.

Last Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints put a damper on a feel-good start to the season for the Miami Dolphins (3-1, 1-0 home). Now Joe Philbin’s side will look to prove it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors through three weeks.

The Dolphins host the Baltimore Ravens (2-2, 0-2 road) on Sunday afternoon, a team that was surprisingly beaten by Buffalo last week, just seven days after being an upset victor – over the Houston Texans – itself. The Jekyll and Hyde Ravens have yet to win on the road this season, a trend Miami will look to keep in place.

Both teams’ quarterbacks have been in the wars this season, collecting a combined 30 sacks between them. Ryan Tannehill (18 sacks) will hope for better offensive line protection, while Joe Flacco (12 sacks) is hoping the arrival of Eugene Monroe – traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars – will give him a little more time and space.

Playing at home, Miami (-170) opened as favorite over Baltimore (+145) when the moneyline was released earlier this week. The all-time head-to-head is tied at five apiece, but the Ravens have won three straight and four of the last five meetings between the sides.

The spread opened at 3.5 and has narrowly slipped ahead of kickoff. Miami (3-1-0 ATS) failed to cover the spread in last weekend’s loss in New Orleans, but has otherwise fared well against the spread. Baltimore (2-2-0 ATS) failed to cover against the Bills last week.

The total opened at 42.5 and has been slowly on the rise as the week has progressed. The Dolphins (3-1-0) have favored the over while the Ravens (1-3-0) have favored the under.

New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA (Mon, 8:30 p.m. ET) (matchup)

Can Geno Smith lead the Jets to victory on Monday Night Football?

Can Geno Smith lead the Jets to victory on Monday Night Football?

The New York Jets (2-2, 0-2 road) will take to the Georgia Dome field with a superior record to the Atlanta Falcons (1-3, 1-1 home) when the two meet on Monday Night Football. That’s an anomaly few would have predicted before the season.

For the Jets, Monday night’s game will be about damage limitation. Until this weekend’s 38-13 drubbing at the hands of the Tennessee Titans, Rex Ryan’s side had done a good job of keeping games close. They’ll need to do exactly that against the Falcons, a team that can pile on the points even with the long list of injuries affecting the team.

Atlanta has lost two games in a row against AFC East opposition, first losing to Miami in Week 3 before coming up short against New England last Sunday night. The falcons will need to snap that trend if they’re to gain ground on the division-leading Saints.

Atlanta (-410) opened as the favorite on the moneyline over New York (-410). The Jets’ last win over the Falcons came in October 1998. Atlanta has won two straight since that game including a low-scoring 10-7 win the last time the two sides met (Dec. 2009). The Falcons lead the all-time head-to-head 6-4.

The spread opened at 9 and has risen as high as 10. The Jets (3-1-0 ATS) have fared well against the spread this season while the Falcons (1-3-0 ATS) have struggled. It’s worth noting that every game involving the Falcons this season has finished with the teams separated by a touchdown or less.

The total opened at 44 and has dropped slightly. Atlanta (3-1-0) has favored the over while New York (2-2-0) has split the over/under evenly.

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