With only four weeks remaining in the 2020 NFL regular season, now is a perfect time to take a look at the crowded AFC playoff picture so you can start getting ready to make your bets against their AFC odds.
NFL Betting Analysis – Updated AFC Playoffs Picture
Will Kansas City or Pittsburgh win the conference crown? Are the Buffalo Bills locks to win the AFC East to automatically qualify for a spot in the playoffs? Will identical nine-win Buffalo or Cleveland challenge for the conference championship – and which one of three eight-win teams (Miami, Tennessee and Indianapolis) could rise up to contend for the conference title? With a whopping 10 teams all looking to give their playoff hopes a boost over the next four weeks, let’s find out what the AFC playoff picture looks like right now.
The Steelers suffered their first loss of the season by losing to Washington 23-17 on Monday. Still, the Steelers are elite on both sides of the ball in ranking seventh in scoring (27.8 ppg) and first in points allowed (17.6 ppg). After visiting Buffalo on Sunday, the Steelers finish up with wins at Cincinnati, at home against Indianapolis (I think) and at Cleveland, to finish at 14-2 and tied with Kansas City for the most wins in the conference.
Kansas City (11-1)
The Chiefs are on a red-hot roll, having win seven straight games heading into Week 14 at Miami. Kansas City has scored 33 points or more in six of its last 10 games and ranks second in scoring (30.8 ppg) and a surprising sixth in points allowed (21.2 ppg). The Chiefs finish up at New Orleans, the at home against the Falcons and Chargers. It’s possible Patrick Mahomes falls to either Miami or New Orleans the next two weeks, although I think the likely scenario is that Kansas City goes 3-1 over its last four to finish at 14-2.
The Bills has won two straight and five of its last six. More importantly, Buffalo took care of business by getting past San Francisco 34-24 on Monday night to improve to 9-3 and into a tie with Cleveland for third place in the AFC. The Bills rank an encouraging 10th in scoring (27.2 ppg) but allow 25.6 points per game defensively (19th). With three difficult matchups against Pittsburgh, New England and Miami, I’ve got the Bills going 2-2 over their final four to finish at 11-5 and atop the AFC East standings.
The Browns have won four straight and five of its last six games, but only one of those wins came against a team that currently owns a winning record. Still, Cleveland’s stunning 41-35 road win at Tennessee was pretty stunning and now the Browns have a pair winnable matchups against both New York teams in weeks 15 and 16, although I have the Browns falling to the Ravens and Steelers to finish at 11-5 and in the playoffs.
The Titans are a modest 3-3 over their last six games and suffered a perplexing 4134 home loss against Cleveland on Sunday to fall back into a tie for first place in the AFC South with an Indianapolis Colts team they split regular season games with. While the Titans rank fifth in rushing and third in scoring (29.9 ppg), Tennessee also allowing a generous 27.7 points per game defensively (25th). Still, with three winnable matchups against Jacksonville, Detroit and Houston remaining, I’ve got the Titans finishing at either 11-5 or possibly 10-6 if they get upset by either Detroit or Houston.
The Fins have won two straight and an impressive seven of its last eight games overall. While Miami ranks a modest 16th in scoring (25.3 ppg), the Dolphins also have a stout defense that ranks a stupendous second in points allowed (17.7 ppg). The bad news is that Miami has a quartet of difficult matchups left at home against Kansas City in Week 14, followed by another home date against the Patriots and then a pair of road dates at Las Vegas and Buffalo. The best Miami can hope for is a 2-2 run over their last four to finish at 10-6 and possibly in the Playoffs.
The Colts have won three of its last four games and four of six overall including their hard-fought 26-20 win over Houston on Sunday. Indy ranks an encouraging ninth in scoring (27.3 ppg) and 10th in points allowed (228 ppg). The Colts have put an identical 26 points on the board in two straight while scoring an identical 34 points in each of their previous two matchups. Philip Rivers and company have a huge road matchup against Vegas on Sunday before finishing up at home against Houston, at Pittsburgh and at home against Jacksonville. I’ve got the Colts splitting their lat four to finish at 10-6.
Las Vegas (7-5)
The Raiders needed a miracle to get past the unbeaten Jets 31-28 on the game’s final play on Sunday, but they’ve also won four of their last six games while scoring at least 31 points in four of their last five. Derek Carr and company are averaging a healthy 26.9 points per game (11th), but give up a whopping 28.9 points per contest defensively (28th). Vegas has a huge Week 14 matchup at home against Indianapolis followed by home dates against the Chargers and Dolphins before wrapping up their 2020 campaign at Denver. I’ve got LA going 2-2 over their final four to finish at 9-7.
The Ravens have dropped three straight at the worst time, not to mention, they’ll be taking to the field in Week 14 after dealing with a bunch of COVID-19 issues including a positive result from quarterback Lamar Jackson. While Baltimore ranks a modest 14th in scoring this season, the Ravens still have an elite defense that ranks a fantastic third in points allowed (19.5 ppg). Baltimore hosts Dallas on Tuesday night before their huge road date at AFC North rival Cleveland on Sunday. The Ravens then finish up with three very winnable games against the Jaguars, Giants and Bengals. I’m going with Baltimore to win out from here on to finish at 11-5 -and in the playoffs.
New England (6-6)
New England has won two straight and four of five to keep its faint playoff hopes alive. Cam Newton and company played their best game of the season in Sunday’s stunning 45-0 blowout over the LA Chargers and have a defense that ranks an encouraging seventh in points allowed (21.3 ppg). Could the Pats sneak into the playoffs this season if someone falters? With games against the Rams, Dolphins and Bills the next three weeks, I don’t see it happening. New England finishes at 8-8 at best and that won’t be good enough. Still, the Patriots are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record.