AFC division betting odds: Patriots among best values over final 6 weeks
The playoff race is officially heating up in the AFC, as all four divisions are within two games at the top with just six weeks remaining in the regular season. Three of those division leaders are clinging to a one-game lead (or smaller), which makes for some volatile betting opportunities in those markets.
We've got you covered with a breakdown of all four divisions in the AFC, starting with the most curious one of all from a betting perspective:
|New England Patriots||+115|
|New York Jets||+100000|
So, let me get this straight: the Patriots (8-4) have a better record than the Bills (7-4) through 12 weeks, boast a higher point differential, are riding an NFL-best six-game win streak heading into this week's matchup, and yet Buffalo is the favorite to win the division?
It's fine to have faith in the Bills to play like the team we expected to see entering the year - and briefly did see, albeit against lesser competition. At some point, though, you've got to price what you see on the field, and the Patriots have been the better team for nearly two months now. That's before considering the loss of Tre'Davious White, who was arguably Buffalo's best defender before his season-ending injury last week.
Conversely, New England owns the stingiest defense in the league and has averaged 35.2 points per game during its win streak as rookie Mac Jones gets more comfortable within this offense. The Patriots also project to have one of the easier schedules in the league over the next six weeks, while the Bills will finally face the winning teams they've evaded for much of the year. No matter how you slice it, New England ought to be favored.
Value: Patriots +115
|Kansas City Chiefs||-225|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+350|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+1200|
It was only a month ago that the Chiefs appeared dead in the water after two blowout losses in prime time sandwiched around an uninspiring win in Washington. Sure enough, they rose from the ashes and ripped off a four-game win streak, which was enough for oddsmakers to price them as overwhelming favorites to win their sixth consecutive division title.
Are we sure we haven't anointed them too quickly, though? After all, the other teams in this division are just one game back of Kansas City, which faces those three challengers in succession over the next three weeks. The Chiefs' defense appears up for the task, but we're yet to see Patrick Mahomes and Co. show the kind of consistent success that would justify betting such a short price.
Instead, I'm eyeing a long-shot bet on the Broncos, who own the best scoring margin in the division and have held four of their last five opponents to 17 or fewer points. If Teddy Bridgewater can remain competent under center, this physical run game and swarming defense can match up with Kansas City in two meetings and reward bettors with a late-season run.
Value: Broncos +800
It hasn't always looked pretty, but somehow the Ravens keep winning. They became the first team since 2013 to win a game in which their starting quarterback threw four interceptions with Sunday's 15-10 win over the Browns - preserving their slim one-game lead atop the division.
This is essentially a two-team race with the way Cleveland and Pittsburgh have played as of late. Can the Bengals make things interesting? They've quietly posted a better scoring margin (plus-83) than Baltimore (plus-23), though much of that has come against a cupcake schedule to this point. The division will be decided in heavyweight fashion, as four of the five hardest remaining schedules by record belong to these AFC North teams.
That's good news for Baltimore, which is 13-8 straight-up in the last three seasons against teams with a winning record - the best mark by any of these four clubs. The Ravens' experience and dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball should be enough to hold serve in the division and potentially secure the AFC's top seed.
Value: Ravens -175
Let's face it: you aren't betting the Titans at these odds with six weeks to play of this wacky NFL season. So, the better question is whether you think the Colts are worth a shot at 10-1, or if this division is a stay-away altogether.
The answer likely isn't a satisfying one. Truthfully, Indianapolis might be the better team right now, as injuries have piled up for this Tennessee offense that looks like a shell of what it once was. The Colts are barely a week removed from a blowout win over the Bills, which felt like a statement at the time, and they've won six of their last nine with three one-score losses.
That said, Tennessee owns not only a two-game lead but also the head-to-head tiebreaker, and it faces the easiest remaining schedule by opponent record with just one contest against a team with a winning record. The damage is likely already done for Indy's division chances, even if it feels like the "right" play here.
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