We are now just one week away from the new NFL season and punters will be confident of correctly predicting all four divisions this year.
The defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots will be very difficult to beat in the AFC East but the rest of the conference is wide open and it is sure to be another exciting campaign for American football fans.
Arguably weaker than the NFC on paper, the AFC is the more exciting and expansive of the two conferences – some of the best offensive units in the National Football League compete in the AFC.
Read below for my thoughts on this season’s AFC action; including a few tips on a couple of dark horses for the Super Bowl...
The Cleveland Browns are still expected to prop up the AFC North despite plenty of activity in free agency. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are both expected to improve and challenge but they may fall short.
There are serious question marks over the offensive units of both sides and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see these two franchises finish at .500 for the season.
But for me, Pittsburgh are the team to beat. The Steelers signed cornerback Joe Haden this week and he will bring some Pro Bowl experience to Heinz Field. Offensively, Mike Tomlin is blessed with one of the strongest units in the NFL.
With Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh have enough quality to overpower their rivals and the 7/10 available for 11 or more wins is worth a punt.
TIP: Pittsburgh Steelers to win more than 10.5 games @ 7/10
This one is WIDE open. While most fans expect the Denver Broncos to fall short, it would be foolish to write that defensive unit off completely.
Meanwhile, Philip Rivers will head into the new season with a full strength corps of receivers – and that bodes well for the newly located Los Angeles Chargers. If Melvin Gordon can emulate last season’s form, they could feature in the AFC West title race.
Then we have the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. It really is a tossup between the two sides; the Chiefs are more consistent but the Raiders have more upside potential and the 2/1 available for an AFC West victory is a decent bet.
Kansas City have reached the playoffs on a regular basis on recent years but this Oakland side are on an upward trajectory and it may prove prudent to side with the Raiders.
TIP: Oakland Raiders to win the division @ 2/1
Without a doubt, the New England Patriots will clinch the AFC East once again. There’s not much point looking anywhere else in this division – Bill Belichick’s men are 1/10 to finish top of the table. However, there is value in the AFC East.
The Buffalo Bills, still unsure on Tyrod Taylor’s ability to lead the franchise to the postseason, may struggle this season; especially after trading Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams.
Predicting the Bills to end the regular campaign with a losing record is nothing new but 7/10 on Buffalo to win less than seven games is value in itself.
The New York Jets probably won’t put up much resistance but the Miami Dolphins are capable of winning both games against the Bills and they may struggle to hit .500 against a fairly tricky schedule.
TIP: Buffalo Bills to win fewer than 6.5 games @ 7/10
Another intriguing division. This had been the Indianapolis Colts’ division to lose for a good few years but the tide has turned in recent times.
The Houston Texans were victorious for a couple of seasons but it is now time for the Tennessee Titans to take centre stage. With a new-look offense built around Marcus Mariota, the Titans could prosper this year – they are a dark horse for the Super Bowl.
At 8/5 to win the division, Tennessee are an absolute steal. Andrew Luck’s injury has plenty questioning whether the Colts can be trusted whilst Houston are still a quarterback away from challenging at the top of the National Football League.
Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars may have a plethora of young talent on defence but Black Bortles’ struggles under center cast a dark shadow over the franchise – this is Tennessee’s title.
TIP: Tennessee Titans to win the division @ 8/5
*All odds accurate at the time of writing – latest markets available here*