With the winners of the AFC Wild Card games still up in the air, the race for conference championships is still wide open, meaning the NFL odds to win the 2016 AFC Championship are a bit jumbled-up right now. Still, going by the field at hand and the abundance of NFL betting trends and team updates we have, there is more than enough information for us to scratch on the surface and have our early say about the team that is likely to win the AFC Championship game.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 9, 2016
Analyzing and Predicting NFL Odds to Win the 2016 AFC Championship
BEST OF THE BEST
New England Patriots: Despite having several injury concerns and also not clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the No. 2 seeded Patriots are still placed as the odds-on favorite to become AFC Champs. In main, this has got to do with the fact that the Patriots have arguably the best quarterback in the AFC in Tom Brady, a player who already has four Super Bowl titles and three Super Bowl MVP awards in his cabinet. And even though he had to work with an injury-laden squad for most of the season, he still managed pass the 4,000 passing yards mark for the fourth straight season and threw just seven interceptions all season long. Added to the venerated leadership of coach Bill Belichick and the availability of some solid weapons in Brady offense (including Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola), the Patriots definitely have sufficient reasons to go the distance and win the AFC crown for the second year in a row.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Yeah, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers still have a mountain to climb in the wild card games, a matchup against bitter rivals Cincinnati, which could easily end up in a Pittsburgh loss. Even so, the Steelers have been firing on all Cylinders when Big Ben is around, along with a steady output of big aerial numbers and touchdowns from Roethlisberger’s favorite target WR Antonio Brown. On the season, Big Ben started just started 12 games, yet he still passed for an astounding 3,938 passing yards (better than Aaron Rodgers’ 3,821 yards in 16 starts) and 21 scores (good for 17th in the NFL this season). Meanwhile, the unstoppable Brown led the league in receptions and went on to finish with 1,834 yards (second-best in the NFL) and 10 touchdowns, in spite of Roethlisberger not starting four games. It is based on such gaudy numbers, along with an improving Pittsburgh defense, that many believe the Steelers could take it all in the AFC this season. And to imagine that Big Ben’s playoff resume is just as impressive (3,484 passing yards and 21 TDs in 15 career postseason games) is just insane, if not scary for Pittsburgh’s potential opponents, starting with the Bengals in their AFC Wild Card game.
Denver Broncos: It still remains to be seen who will be Denver’s starting QB in the playoff, but what remains clear is that both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler will have some role to play. A number of injury concerns are also yet to be addressed, much like the Patriots. The good news, however, is that Denver owns the best defense in the nation, so if the offense can combine for a couple of TDs, their hard-nosed defense that has carried them to a No. 1 AFC seed (and homefield advantage in the AFC Championship game) should enable them to take care of business once again. Keeping that in mind, Denver should—and must–be considered as a serious contender for the AFC Championship.
BEST OF THE REST
Kansas City Chiefs: Entering the postseason on a franchise-best and 2015-16 NFL-high 10-game winning streak, the Chiefs have certainly showed grit and character, things that could see them go far in this year’s NFL playoffs. There are of course some concerns about QB Alex Smith and the fact that his production has been less than stellar, but just like the Texans, Andy Reid’s team has found its defensive identity, which could prove very pivotal for the team in the playoffs, especially if they can take care of Houston this Saturday.
Houston Texans: Brian Hoyer is not great, but he is a good QB who is able to make required plays. Along with a strong support from the quarterback-eating monster J.J. Watt and the Houston defense, you’d be a fool to write off the Texans from the AFC Championship equation.