Huge Changes to AFC Conference and Division Favorites
On the eve of the first game for Week 4 of the NFL season, the AFC conference has an entirely different look and feel than what was predicted in the preseason. In fact, when looking over the current betting odds for the AFC Conference and Division favorites, there are several significant changes that could provide solid opportunities for bettors to win some money on.
AFC Conference Betting Odds
The following AFC betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
- Kansas City Chiefs +375
- New England Patriots +400
- Jacksonville Jaguars +500
- Pittsburgh Steelers +600
- Baltimore Ravens +1200
- Los Angeles Chargers +1200
- Cincinnati Bengals +2000
- Miami Dolphins +2000
- Tennessee Titans +2500
- Denver Broncos +2800
- Cleveland Browns +3300
- Houston Texans +3300
- Indianapolis Colts +3300
- New York Jets +8000
- Oakland Raiders +8000
- Buffalo Bills +10000
The AFC Betting Favorites
The following NFL teams are odds on favorites to win the AFC Championship:
Kansas City Chiefs (+375)
After three weeks, the Kansas City Chiefs look like the conference’s best team based on their high powered offense is. In three games, the Chiefs are averaging 39.3 ppg and have racked up 398.3 total ypg. QB Patrick Mahomes is tearing up the record books as he’s already thrown 13 TD passes so far.
Prior to the start of the season, Kansas City was listed as +1000 odds. They went from 6th to 1st and appear unstoppable. With reports of the Chiefs trading for Earl Thomas from the Seahawks, KC might just have solidified their shaky defense. If so, this is now the team to beat.
New England Patriots (+400)
It should come as no surprise that the Patriots were the odds on favorite to win the AFC at the start of the season. Unfortunately, poor play, injuries and suspensions have hurt this team. But, I would like to caution all of those fans and critics saying the Patriots are done. This team has come out sluggish the last few years and then usually rail off 10 or 12 straight wins to cement themselves as the best team in the conference.
New England just placed Rex Burkhead on IR due to an injury, but do have some good news with Edelman only missing one more game to a suspension and newly acquired receiver Josh Gordon most likely playing this weekend. The Patriots (1-2) have a big divisional game this weekend against the Dolphins (3-0), who lead the AFC East.
Currently, New England has dropped from a preseason line of +300 to +400.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+500)
The Jaguars were the 4th odds on favorite to win the AFC at the start of the season. After 3 weeks, they’re now 3rd. The Jags went from a line of +900 to the current line of +500. Jacksonville stomped the Patriots two weeks ago, but followed that up with an abysmal loss to the Titans. However, this team still has the best defense in the AFC and when Fournette returns from his injury, they will pull away in the AFC South.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+600)
Pittsburgh currently sits as the 4th odds on favorite to win the AFC. With a record of 1-1-1, Pittsburgh dropped from the 2nd spot (+550) in the preseason and looks very beatable this year. In fact, Cleveland tied the Steelers in Week 1 of the season. The Chiefs beat up a terrible Steelers defense and the Bucs almost came back and beat the Steelers on MNF.
Pittsburgh is still without Le’Veon Bell who remains in a contractual stalemate with the Steelers. Unfortunately for Bell, it appears that Pittsburgh is now open to trading him instead of giving into his demands. However, don’t confuse Pittsburgh’s slow start to the absence of Bell. James Conner has done a great job as the new starting running back. The problem for Pittsburgh is their porous defense and an inconsistent Big Ben.
Best AFC Betting Value
The Los Angeles Chargers offer fantastic betting value as they’ve dropped from a preseason line of +900 down +1200 due to their leaky defense. However, the Chargers defense has been playing without their best d-linemen in Bosa, which really changes the dynamic of this unit. I believe this team is going to be even scarier when the defense improves. Let’s also not overlook the fact that the Chargers (1-2) did lose to the two best teams in the league: Kansas City and the Rams. The Bolts will make a run starting this weekend and I expect them to compete for a Wild Card this year. Once in the playoffs, anything can happen.
Top AFC Longshot
The top longshot right now is the Houston Texans at +3300. I’m not ready to write them off yet. I still believe they have too much talent to keep losing. The Texans need to turn their season around this weekend or they are in real trouble. But, when you look at the other teams with the same odds or higher, the Texans clearly have the most talent. Houston started off as the 3rd odds on favorite with a +900 betting line. After starting the year at 0-3, the Texans are now closer to the bottom of the conference than the top.
AFC Divisional Betting Odds
We’ve looked at the conference odds, now let’s look at the divisional odds courtesy of BetOnline:
AFC East Betting Odds
- New England Patriots -300
- Miami Dolphins +275
- New York Jets +1600
- Buffalo Bills +4000
Although the Dolphins currently lead the AFC East by two games, most sportsbooks have the Patriots as the favorite to win the division. However, the odds have drastically changed from the preseason. At the start of the regular season, Patriots were -600 to win the division. As you can see, they’re now -300. Miami was +800 and now +275. The Jets were ranked last in the division at the start of the season with +1400 odds. However, even though their line has moved to +1600, they are ranked 3rd. Buffalo was a +1200 line at the start of 2018 season, but with their 1-2 start, oddsmakers have them as the last team in the division (+4000) and the conference (+10000).
Despite the Patriots’ slow start, and the Dolphins undefeated beginning to the season, this is still New England’s division to lose. I say hop on these odds right now because once New England starts winning, they will just go back up.
AFC West Betting Odds
- Kansas City Chiefs -225
- Los Angeles Chargers +350
- Denver Broncos +500
- Oakland Raiders +5000
Coming into the season, the Chargers were the clear favorite to win the AFC West at +135. Unfortunately, a 1-2 start, in addition to KC’s 3-0 start, has changed the landscape of this division. The Chiefs are now the favorites as they have already defeated the Chargers this year. In Week 4, they will head to Denver for a big AFC West game against the Broncos. If they win that game, then KC will have already put a big lead on their divisional rivals just ¼ of the way through the season.
Denver has surprised some pundits with their 2-1 start. Prior to the beginning of the season, Denver was picked to finish last with a line of +525. Although their line has only improved slightly to +500, they look like a team that can finish with a winning record this year. They also look like a team that the Chiefs and the Chargers can’t sleep on.
Speaking of sleeping on, the Raiders look like they’re sleepwalking through the season. They start off each game competitive in the first half, only to lose the game in the second half. Gruden has put his players in positions to succeed, but they have let him and the Raiders Nation down. At +5000, I wouldn’t even take a flier on this team because they look incapable of winning more than 3 games all year.
At the beginning of the year, KC was +250 and picked to finish 2nd in the West. However, this offense has proven to be the best in the conference and this is the Chiefs’ division to lose. Just watch out for a healthy Bosa and Chargers team later in the year.
AFC North Betting Odds
- Pittsburgh Steelers +150
- Baltimore Ravens +225
- Cincinnati Bengals +300
- Cleveland Browns +600
Out of the 4 AFC divisions, this is the one that remains the closest according to online sportsbooks. In fact, the Steelers are the only divisional favorite to still offer a + betting line. At the beginning of the season, Pittsburgh was a -250 favorite. Now, they’re a +150 favorite after 3 weeks of “Jekyll and Hyde” football. The Ravens were +450 at the beginning of the year, but have improved to a +225 team after going 2-1 so far.
The Bengals have surprised many fans and oddsmakers with a 2-1 start. They beat a gritty Colts team and handled the Ravens on a short week. Their betting odds improved from +800 to +300. Lastly, the Browns have seen a big bump as they’ve gone from +1000 to +600 after tying with Pittsburgh the first week and then beating the Jets in Week 3 for their first win since late 2016.
Despite all of the craziness in this division, I still think the Steelers will end up winning it. However, I do like the Bengals betting odds. I think Cincy is a solid football team and when Joe Mixon returns, they will be even better. The Bengals provide value and might be worth a flier.
AFC South Betting Odds
- Jacksonville Jaguars -190
- Tennessee Titans +400
- Indianapolis Colts +600
- Houston Texans +800
Here’s a division that most of us got wrong. A large contingency of fans and pundits believed that Houston was going to win this division. They had more talent on the offensive side of the ball than the Jaguars, and almost as much on defense. The return of QB Watson was supposed to signal a playoff run on Houston. Unfortunately, it’s about as bad as it can be for the Texans as they’re 0-3 and looking abysmal. I still believe the Texans, which were +200 at the beginning of the season, can turn things around and make a run at the Wild Card. However, their chances of winning the division are pretty much over.
The Titans at +400 fell from a preseason line of +300 and look inept on offense. Despite this lack of offensive firepower (only 49 points over 3 games), the Titans are 2-1 and lead the AFC South as they just beat the Jags last weekend.
The Colts fell from +550 to +600, but are showing improvement on both sides of the ball. They’re basically a few possessions away from being 3-0 on the season. I like the grit that this team has and they could sneak up on other teams in the division starting this weekend.
With all of that said, the Jaguars appear to be the best team despite how poor Blake Bortles looked last weekend against the Titans. When Fournette returns, the Jaguars will get the power running game going again and they will be able to start pulling away in this division. At the start of the season, Jacksonville was +175. Based on how all 4 teams have done over 3 weeks, the Jags are a big favorite at -190.
I’m going with Jacksonville to take this division and to be one of the top seeds in the AFC playoffs.
Who Will Win the AFC Conference in 2018-19?
I’ve said it once already and I will say it again, until someone dethrones the Patriots, New England will win the AFC. Just wait until they get all of their pieces back and working together. Edeleman’s return in 2 games will be huge. So will the addition of Josh Gordon. Even without Burkhead, Michel and White will produce out of the backfield. Let’s also not forget the defense always improves as the season goes on.
At the beginning of the year, I picked: Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, and Texans to win the divisions and for the Bills and Jaguars to win the Wild Cards.
After three games, I’m sticking with the Patriots and Steelers to win their divisions. However, I’m going with the Chiefs and Jaguars to win the West and South divisions. As for Wild Cards, I like the Chargers and Bengals. However, I do think the Texans have a shot at getting one of those WC spots if they can turn things around.
As for the AFC Conference Champion in 2018-19, I’m going with New England at +400. As my cohost always says on our Odds on Favorites videocast, “never bet against Tom Brady.”
AFC Betting Recap
- AFC Winner: New England Patriots +400
- AFC Betting Value: Los Angeles Chargers +1200
- AFC Longshot: Houston Texans +3300
- AFC East Winner: New England Patriots -300
- AFC West Winner: Kansas City Chiefs -225
- AFC North Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers +150