2021 NFL Division Futures: Best Longshot Picks in AFC

  • BetOnline has updated 2021 NFL Division Futures after the conclusion of preseason play
  • The Chiefs (-250), Bills (-160) and Titans (-130) are favored in their divisions while the Browns (+140) and Ravens (+140) are in a dead heat in the AFC North
  • The NFL season starts on Thursday, September 9th

Every year at this time, football fans think they have everything figured out. We’ve read all the season previews, camp reports and insider tweets and know conclusively which players and teams will be good and which ones will stink up the joint. Then Week 1 happens and reality sets in.

While, yes, the Chiefs and Bills will probably top their respective divisions, consider this article a thought exercise on why they might not. But before we build cases for longshots in each AFC division, here’s where you can find the latest Super Bowl odds and get our tips for betting on NFL football games.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills-160
New England Patriots+340
Miami Dolphins+350
New York Jets+1800

Patriot Games

It’s difficult to tell if New England (+340) is over- or under-valued. On one hand, Bill Belichick is the greatest NFL coach of all time. On the other, their offense was ugly without Tom Brady last season and after dumpster diving for wide receivers in free agency, there’s still a lack of weapons for Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones.

Still, if someone is to dethrone Josh Allen and the Bills (-160) in the AFC East, it’s not going to be the Dolphins (+350). With a dominant offensive line and a defense that will receive a big boost from the return of several COVID opt-outs, the Patriots could grind out their 12th division title in the past 13 years.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens+140
Cleveland Browns+140
Pittsburgh Steelers+425
Cincinnati Bengals+1200

Steelers disrespected?

Given the Ravens (+140) and Browns (+140) are now co-favorites in the AFC North, this exercise dictates that we stump for the Steelers (+425) as only a fool would back Zac Taylor (6-25-1 record over two seasons) and the Bengals (+1200).

While Pittsburgh’s offensive line issues are well documented, they’re not going to be any worse in the trenches than last year when they went 12-4. After replacing bottom-of-the-barrel offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner with Matt Canada, there’s also a chance a healthy and in-shape Ben Roethlisberger will look rejuvenated in 2021. Throw in Mike Tomlin’s sterling track record and what should be a top-five defense and suddenly a Steelers division title doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.

New England Patriotsto win AFC East
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Pittsburgh Steelersto win AFC North
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AFC South

Tennessee Titans-130
Indianapolis Colts+180
Jacksonville Jaguars+600
Houston Texans+2500

Don’t count out the Colts

The Titans (-130) and Colts (+180) were once viewed as co-favorites in the AFC South, but injuries to Carson Wentz and road-grading O-lineman Quinton Nelson shook oddsmakers’ confidence. While the addition of Julio Jones has made Tennessee a popular pick, the subtraction of OC Arthur Smith is worrisome – as is Mike Vrabel’s perennially shaky defense.

Meanwhile, Wentz and Nelson should be ready for Week 1 and Indianapolis has the far better roster. With Jonathan Taylor set for a vintage Adrian Peterson season, the Colts are a sneaky Super Bowl bet at +3500.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs-250
Los Angeles Chargers+500
Denver Broncos+525
Las Vegas Raiders+1400

Charging to a division title

Building a case against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs (-250) isn’t easy – but what if the Buccaneers’ 31-9 Super Bowl destruction provided the league with a blueprint to stop Kansas City. And what if either Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce goes down, removing a Jenga piece from an attack that’s paper thin on talent?

While it’s tempting to bet on Vic Fangio’s Broncos (+525) defense, that same defensive scheme will be run by Brandon Staley’s Chargers (+500). And rather than having Teddy Bridgewater behind center, Los Angeles has sophomore Justin Herbert. Choose the wager with more upside. Choose the Chargers.

Los Angeles Chargersto win NFC West
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Steve Starr

Steve is one of the many Americans who spends Sunday watching football on the couch and gorging on heart-clogging eats. He describes himself as a good father, great dog owner, and mediocre gambler and husband.

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