It’s a new season, but the same expectations in the AFC. The New England Patriots will begin the season as the favorites on the AFC championship odds.
The latest AFC championship odds have New England listed as the favorite at +290. New England has won back-to-back AFC titles and three of the last four. In fact the only two teams to win the AFC in the last five years are the Patriots and the Denver Broncos.
Who are the Favorites for the AFC Championship Odds?
Do the Patriots have another AFC title in them? Playing in the incredibly weak AFC East where a division title looks all but guaranteed will definitely help. It will be up to Tom Brady to carry New England to another conference championship. If he can do it, it will be with arguably the weakest supporting cast he’s had on offense during his tenure in New England.
Aside from Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, who’s coming off a knee injury and will be suspended for the first four games, Brady lacks any reliable options. With the trade, release and departure of the likes of Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Jordan Matthews, Kenny Britt and now Eric Decker, it will be interesting to see how Brady spreads the ball around. But still, with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick around, the Patriots will be at or near the top of these AFC odds, as well as the Super Bowl odds for this season.
Following New England on the AFC futures are the Pittsburgh Steelers at +450. The Los Angeles Chargers are next at at +800, then the Jacksonville Jaguars at +850.
The Steelers last won the AFC title back in 2010. Ben Roethlisberger put aside retirement rumors to return to lead a strong offense that includes Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster.
Who are the Contenders for the AFC Championship Odds?
The Chargers are an interesting option at +800, considering they didn’t even make the playoffs last season. Philip Rivers will try to get the Chargers back in the AFC title game for the first time since 2007 and their first conference title since 1994. The difference maker for San Diego could be their defense. Despite being ranked third in scoring last year, the Chargers were 15th overall in total defense.
The Jaguars fell one win short last season after falling to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Blake Bortles returns at quarterback despite rumors Jacksonville was looking for an upgrade. He has a reliable power back in Leonard Fournette, while the receiving corps will need someone to step up in place of Marquise Lee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.
The wild cards for bettors in the AFC this season could be the Houston Texans at +1000, or the Kansas City Chiefs at +1400.
Houston welcomes back quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was having a breakout season last year before a knee injury sidelined him. Houston was 3-4 with Watson last season, compared to 1-8 without him. Watson is a dynamic presence on offense and has two solid targets in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The real key could be the Houston defense if JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney can get healthy and perform.
The Chiefs have a ton of weapons on offense, including Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce. The question mark is quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Is he ready to step out of Alex Smith’s shadow and lead the Chiefs’ offense?