2018 AFC Championship - Odds to Win
Updated: January 2019
|New England Patriots +275
Pittsburgh Steelers +500
Jacksonville Jaguars +750
Houston Texans +900
Los Angeles Chargers +900
Denver Broncos +1400
Oakland Raiders +1400
Kansas City Chiefs +1600
Baltimore Ravens +1800
BetOnline odds Updated: January 2019
FAVORITES TO WIN THE AFC IN 2018
Until the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady marriage fails to exist, the perennial favorite in the AFC will remain the New England Patriots. Consider what Belichick and Brady have done since 2001. The Patriots have won the AFC East Division 15 times, and have won eight AFC titles. They lay claim to five Super Bowl championships and New England has played in the last seven straight AFC title games. What’s to stop them from returning in 2018?
Not much. Brady returns after leading the NFL in passing yards (4,577) at the age of 40. Surprisingly, Brady has shown no signs of slowing down and will lead a Patriots’ offense that will have to deal with the four-game suspension of WR Julian Edelman at the outset of the season. Still, TE Rob Gronkowski returns as do a number of ultra-efficient offensive weapons like WR Chris Hogan. The Patriots drafted well snagging former Georgia RB Sony Michel in the first round. They also landed wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency. As they do every season, Belichick and the Patriots will find a way to remain a contender.
Waiting for another chance to beat the Patriots is Pittsburgh, which lost to New England in a controversial regular season game. The Steelers won the AFC North for the second straight season but lost in the Divisional Round to Jacksonville. Pittsburgh has faced New England in three AFC championship games since 2001. The Steelers have lost all three.
Pittsburgh returns its “Killer Bs” in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown. They are three of the best at their respective positions. Roethlisberger was fifth in the NFL in passing yards (4,251) and Bell third in rushing yards (1,291). Brown led the league in receiving yards (1,533) for the second time in his career. The 2017 season was also his fifth straight with over 1,000 yards receiving.
Where the Steelers may have an advantage over New England is on defense. The Steelers were fifth in both passing defense and total defense and they were seventh in points allowed per game (19.3). Most of that defense returns though head coach Mike Tomlin must find a replacement for LB Ryan Shazier who suffered a spinal injury last year in a game against Cincinnati.
Other contenders in the AFC include Jacksonville, which surprised everyone by winning the AFC South and nearly defeating the Patriots in the AFC championship. While Pittsburgh’s defense is good, the Jags’ unit is even better. Jacksonville was second in both total defense (286.1) and points allowed (16.8) per game. Veteran DE Calais Campbell finished second in the league in sacks with 14.5 and Yannick Ngakoue was eighth with 12. Both return in 2018.
Houston, which was just 4-12 last season, could challenge the Jags in the AFC South if they can stay healthy. They lost DE J.J. Watt, LB Whitney Mercilus, and QB Deshaun Watson to injuries last year. The Chargers went 6-1 in their final seven games last year to finish 9-7. They failed to make the playoffs but proved that they could make some noise in the 2018 AFC title race.
NFL Team Breakdown by Division
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