2016 NFL Division Winners at BetOnline: AFC Edition
Divisional futures are some of our favorite markets for NFL bettors. We seem to find a lot more value betting divisional futures versus postseason futures, such as which team will win the NFC Championship, AFC Championship, and Super Bowl.
Today, we will take a look the AFC divisional markets with a breakdown of each division and our picks to win, along with some upside plays.
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It’s a pretty tough sell for us to advise putting a bet down on anyone but New England in the AFC East. After all, the Patriots have won the division in each of the last seven seasons.
The Patriots (-250)
New England isn’t too appetizing at -250, as you’re going to have to pay the piper to bet to get a piece of their consistency. There is a chance Jimmy Garoppolo face plants, and the team is looking at 1-3 or 0-4 record before Brady gets back off suspension, but that seems unlikely.
The Jets (+650)
New York was one game away from the postseason last year and returned starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick after contract discussions went on until training camp. Fitzpatrick had a career year last season but isn’t much more than a journeyman. Regression this season makes plenty of sense.
The Jets are a year older as well. Brandon Marshall is coming off a fantastic year, but he’s 32 years old now. Decker is perhaps the best second receiver in the league, but the Jets don’t have much behind him. Darrelle Revis doesn’t qualify as a shutdown cornerback anymore.
New York’s schedule is a lot tougher than it was last year as well. They play the Patriots twice of course, but also face the Steelers and Cardinals on the road and face the rest of the NFC West, including Seattle and St. Louis at home.
The Bills (+600)
If any new team emerges as new champions of the AFC East, we like the Bills. Buffalo has slowly improved each year, and they have one of the best young quarterback and receiving combos in the game in Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins.
Defensively, they’re a stout group and all over the field, especially in the secondary, where many of their AFC East opponents are loaded with talent. Few teams can score against Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It’s one of the toughest environments in the league.
The Dolphins (+850)
Finally, there’s the Miami Dolphins. New head coach Adam Gase was an exceptional hire, and the Dolphins do have some excellent players on both sides of the ball, but it’s hard to see them eclipsing 7 or so wins in this division. Even at +850, there’s not much value to be had here.
AFC East Best Bet(s): It’s hard to argue with plunking down money on New England at -250, but there’s just not a lot of value there for a team that is missing their starting quarterback for the first four games, even with all the past success. The Bills are our favorite play at +600, but it’s not one of our favorites on the board.
The AFC North is always one of the toughest divisions in football. Known for a grind it out, low scoring affairs, we’ve seen a lot of offense in recent years, especially from Pittsburgh. Only the Browns don’t have a realistic shot at the division crown.
The Steelers (+110)
Pittsburgh is the favorite, and their offense is one of the league’s most potent, if not the best, but they still do have plenty of question marks. The loss of wide receiver Martavis Bryant is one that few are talking about, but it’s a big loss to the entire offense.
The Steelers will need to score a lot because their defense is suspect. Their pass rush improved last year but is being led by a now 38-year old James Harrison. The secondary has all sorts of questions marks, and the Steelers have a tough schedule.
Some might see the +110 as super attractive for a team with as much talent as Pittsburgh, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see this team have a few hiccups this season.
The Bengals (+175)
Cincinnati at +175 seems to be one of the best bets around. You’re getting near 2/1 on a team that won their division last year with a 12-4 record. They haven’t lost much regarding personnel either.
Wide receiver Marvin Jones bolted to Detroit in free agency, but the Bengals signed Brandon LaFell and drafted Taylor Boyd to replace him. They boast one of the best offensive lines in the league and have a legion of excellent skill players to surround Andy Dalton, including All-Pro receiver A.J. Green.
On defense, there aren’t a lot of weaknesses either. The unit is ranked in the upper half in nearly every defensive category.
The Ravens (+350)
Baltimore seems far removed from their Super Bowl title in 2012. Since that time, they’ve had just one winning season and are coming off a 5-11 record last season. Baltimore has plenty of questions on both sides of the ball.
Their offensive line is still one of the strongest areas but has a few question marks coming into the season. The receivers are about as boom or bust as any unit in the league. The defense has major issues in all areas.
Even at +350, the Ravens don’t seem like real contenders in a division with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
The Browns (+2000)
Cleveland is the worst team in the NFL by just about every measure. It feels like they’re slightly underrated nationally because their offense does have some impressive skill players and their secondary could be above average, but they have almost no chance of winning the AFC North. +2000 isn’t enough for us to bite.
AFC North Best Bet(s): We don’t love the Steelers from a value perspective, but we can’t fault you for placing a wager at +110. The Bengals are perhaps the best bet available in AFC divisional markets. It can easily be argued they are the best team in the division. Their lack of postseason success isn’t relevant for us and may be driving their price down.
The AFC South is one of the more wide-open divisions in football. Aside from the Titans, who do have some promising young players, but have been plagued by mismanagement, just about everyone else has a shot at the title.
The Colts (+140)
After an 8-8 season last year, the Indianapolis are the favorites in the eyes of the oddsmakers. Andrew Luck was plagued with injury issues last year, one of the main reasons they had such a poor record. Luck is fully healthy and has plenty of weapons around him, but Indianapolis still has issues in other areas.
For one, their defense might be one of the worst in the league. They’ve already lost their best cornerback in Vontae Davis for at least a few weeks, but it could be much longer. It’s a huge downgrade to their entire defense.
The Colts, like the Steelers, will need to score a lot of points due to potentially awful defenses. Last year, they struggled mightily running the ball, which is critical to keeping the defense off the field. Luck also had major issues with turnovers.
Indianapolis is certainly a team that will improve on their win total from last season, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be division winners. +140 is an enticing price for a team with so much on paper talent offensively, but one that we’re still not eager to jump on.
The Texans (+200)
Houston capitalized on Luck’s health and Indy’s miscues and took down the division last season. The Texans are as talented as anyone and made several splashes in free agency, signing quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller.
There are a lot of questions concerning Osweiler’s ability as a starter, but he has shined so far in preseason and has already developed an excellent connection with first round pick, Will Fuller.
J.J. Watt is a little banged up, but he should be on the field for Week 1 or at worst the first month of the season. Jadeveon Clowney is also finally healthy heading into the season. The Texans are loaded all over defensively, even past the front seven. Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson are one of the more underrated cornerback tandems in the league.
The Texans are in prime position to repeat last year’s division title. Osweiler is a huge upgrade over Brian Hoyer, and they’ve improved in many other areas. At +200, they seem like a bargain.
The Jaguars (+300)
Jacksonville always seems to be on the cusp of making the playoffs, but it never seems to work out. Their offensive talent is pretty amazing when it comes to skill players, like receivers Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Julius Thomas. They signed Chris Ivory to pair with second-year back T.J. Yeldon.
Bortles improved last season, but that was against a much easier schedule than they will have this year and his play fell off tremendously towards the end of the year. Inaccurate and turnover prone, Bortles could very well be the guy holding this offense back.
The Jaguars have consistently had a strong run defense but have struggled in pass coverage. They drafted cornerback Jalen Ramsey and signed Price Amukamara from the Giants to address this need. Their defense should be better this year, but it’s still a work in progress.
The Jaguars haven’t won more than eight games since 2007, and they may be waiting a little longer to break that trend. +300 might seem like a good price with a team getting all this hype, but we’re not sure it’s warranted.
The Titans (+1000)
Tennessee goes through what seems like an endless cycle of regime change because they can’t make the right hires. They fired Ken Whisenhunt last season and decided to go with Mike Mularkey. It was another uninspiring hire, to say the least. Mularkey has a winning percentage of just over 30 in his career as a head coach.
The Titans have a better roster than most give them credit for and an exciting young quarterback in Mariota, but there’s not a lot to like with the coaching staff or the front office.
AFC South Best Bet(s): If you believe in Andrew Luck’s talent and think if he’s healthy he can guide the Colts to a division title, it’s an easy wager for you. We’re skeptical on that and Indianapolis as a whole. The Texans offer a ton of value at +200, and we think they have the most complete team in the division.
The AFC West is home to the defending champion Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, which don’t look too much different aside Peyton Manning being gone. Of course, his backup, Brock Osweiler, also bolted for Houston. The West is shaping up to be one of the most competitive divisions in the AFC.
The Chiefs (+175)
Coming off an 11-5 season, Andy Reid’s Kansas City team fizzled out in the playoffs once again. The Chiefs deserve to be favorites in this division, as they look to have gotten better this offseason.
Alex Smith is a solid, but certainly unspectacular starter, but he’s got plenty of weapons and a strong running game. Tight end Travis Kelce signed a long-term deal this offseason and Jeremy Maclin was fantastic in his first year in Kansas City last season.
Kansas City’s defense should rank right up there with the best in the league. However, linebacker Justin Houston, their best pass rusher and perhaps best defensive player may be out all season. It’s a huge hit to the defense that has relied on pressure to force turnovers the past few years.
At +175, there’s some value with them as the rest of the division has their issues as well.
The Broncos (+220)
It’s rare when the defending champs are not favorites in their division, but that’s what happens when your quarterback battle was Mark Sanchez versus Trevor Siemian. Siemian won the job, but neither looked for good at all in the preseason.
Denver’s offense may have issues scoring, but their defense still one of the better units in the league, especially in the secondary. They did lose Malik Jackson to the Jaguars, which will hurt the defensive line, but the Broncos still have the best defense in the league, by a large margin.
It’s hard to know what to make of this team as a whole, however. The pressure is off of them to repeat after Manning has left town, which may help things. If Siemian hits the ground running and plays well from the start, Denver may find themselves in the driver’s seat for a division title come December.
The Raiders (+250)
While Denver isn’t a bad bet at +220, the Raiders at +250 are a lot more attractive. The Raiders are young and will be contenders for years to come. Derek Carr is already in the discussion as a top ten quarterback, and Amari Cooper is fully healthy coming into his second year.
The Raiders also made massive upgrades this offseason. They beefed up their already dominant offensive line and have one of the best defensive fronts in the league led by linebacker Khalil Mack. They signed former cornerback Sean Smith from the Chiefs to improve their secondary.
Some might lump Oakland in with teams like Jacksonville that are just about to turn the corner but never seem to do so, but it’s not fair to put them in that bunch. This team is loaded, and they’re may be the best team in the division. Load up on them at +250.
San Diego added a bit this offseason in the form of Travis Benjamin to shore up their pass-catching corps, but this team is full of problems. Phillip Rivers’ play has declined the past few years, and their offensive line is the worst in the league. The middling secondary isn’t going to be helped by a front seven that is arguably the worst in the league.
At +650, we still can’t bite.
AFC West Best Bet(s): This division is the wide open, but it’s impossible to ignore a team as talented as the Raiders at +250. Our gut says take the Raiders, but it’s still probably the Chiefs’ division to lose. Our money is still going to be on Oakland, however.