The 2021 NFL season is still nearly three months away, but savvy bettors are placing wagers now on their favorite futures. One of the most intriguing futures bets is the AFC Winner. Can the Chiefs win the conference three years in a row? Will Buffalo take the next step forward? Can the Ravens finally make a playoff push? Here are the six best bets to win the AFC.
Best Bets to Win the NFC
Odds come from BettingPros Consensus
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It’s difficult to bet against the Chiefs, given that they’ve won the AFC two years in a row and came one offsides penalty against the Patriots away from three straight. Making it to the Super Bowl two consecutive years is a grind, and doing it three times in a row is complete madness. It’s not to say it can’t be done, but there are other teams in the AFC (that I’ll mention below) ascending, and Kansas City’s path to the Super Bowl is going to be rife with challenges. They’re the favorites for a reason, but I’d rather take my chances on another team.
No team took a bigger step forward in 2020 than the Bills, who improved on a solid 10-6 record in 2020 to a 13-3 finish with the AFC East crown. With the emergence of Josh Allen as an upper-echelon quarterback and a strong receiving corps led by Stefon Diggs, Buffalo proved themselves to be Super Bowl contenders.
The defense was middle-of-the-pack, ranking 16th in points allowed and 14th in yards allowed. Improvements on that side of the ball could solidify this team as a true AFC powerhouse, as the offense will return most of its key starters. At +600, I like the Bills significantly more than the Chiefs as the best bet to win the AFC in 2021.
Baltimore has been highly successful in the regular season over the last two years but failed to put it together in the playoffs. Could that change in 2021? Lamar Jackson continues to impress as a passer and runner, while the Ravens boast an elite run game and formidable defense. This team can go toe-to-toe with any team in the league, so this bet boils down to playoff success.
Just like the Bills, Cleveland took a major step forward in 2020 under the leadership of head coach Kevin Stefanski. The Browns rolled to an 11-5 record, marking the team’s most wins since 1994 and the first playoff appearance since 2002. The moribund franchise has been a disgrace for years, but Baker Mayfield and an elite running game were enough to do the trick in 2020. An upgraded defense could push Cleveland over the top in the AFC, which is why these odds are intriguing for the upcoming campaign.
Can Carson Wentz prove to be the tipping point for a team already built for immediate success? Though Wentz’s struggles in Philly were well-publicized last season, there’s reason for optimism in Indy. Not long ago, Wentz was in MVP consideration, and he’s proven through his brief career that when healthy, he’s a stud.
The Colts ranked in the top-10 in points, yards, points allowed, and yards allowed in 2020. The defense should only get better in 2021, and transitioning from Philip Rivers to Wentz should be an upgrade. This team went 11-5 last season. If Wentz can get back to MVP form, the Colts have a realistic path to the AFC crown.
The Julio Jones trade moves the needle for Tennessee, but not by a huge margin. This team was in a good position to succeed already, boasting arguably the league’s best running back, an emerging star wideout in A.J. Brown, and a capable quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. The top-five offense isn’t the problem.
Defense is the issue. The Titans’ secondary was routinely burned throughout the season, surrendering the 28th-most yards to opposing offenses and the 24th-most points. The elite offense covered up some of those deficiencies, but Tennessee has got to get better at stopping opponents before it can have a real shot at an AFC Championship victory.
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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.
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