7 of the best AFC futures bets to make: Back Bills, Ravens to be division winners
Stefon Diggs and the Bills are the rightful favourites to win the AFC East. Photo by Joshua Bessex/AP.

The AFC is stacked with elite quarterbacks and plenty of teams whose Super Bowl window is open.

While the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs are the top dog, there's no shortage of teams lining up to dethrone Patrick Mahomes and Co. And plenty have a compelling case to win the conference.

In this conference preview, check out our AFC best bets to find out which teams we like plus our favourite picks to win each division.

AFC best bets

With three conference championships in the span of four years, Kansas City is clearly a cut above the rest.

The Chiefs have actually been to each of the last five AFC finals, making it clear that the road to the Super Bowl flows through Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City isn't unbeatable, however, and there are a number of squads looking to throw their best punch at the champs.

Best bet to win the AFC

Best Bet: Buffalo Bills (+475)

Buffalo was cruising last season before Josh Allen's Week 9 elbow injury drastically hampered his efficiency.

Allen was averaging 8.33 yards per attempt in Weeks 1 through 8. From Week 9 onward, he averaged 6.88 yards per attempt. But the dual-threat quarterback should be back to normal after spending the offseason recovering from the ailment and he remains one of the biggest game-changers in the league.

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He's not the only key Bills player returning from injury. Von Miller, recovering from a torn ACL, will rejoin the team at some point this season (though there isn't a clear timetable for his return).

With Leonard Floyd, who has 29 sacks across the last three seasons, joining the defence, Buffalo should be among the top contenders once again with one of the few QBs that can go toe-to-toe with Mahomes.

The Bills matched a franchise-best mark with 13 wins last year, something they've done in two of the last three seasons behind Allen.

Best value bet to win the AFC

Best Bet: Jacksonville Jaguars (+1,300)

It's a little puzzling to see Jacksonville tied for the sixth-best odds to win the conference.

The reason for our befuddlement stems from the fact that the Jaguars are minus-odds favourites (-167) to win the AFC South. Implied probability suggests they have a 62.5% chance of winning the division and hosting a home playoff game.

For reference, they're tied with the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers (+1,300). Miami has -106 odds to make the postseason while Los Angeles has +100 odds.

That puts the Dolphins at a 51.5% implied probability and the Chargers at a 50% implied probability just to make the playoffs, let alone win their division or host a playoff game.

Scheduling plays a major factor and could actually vault Jacksonville higher up the AFC standings than expected. The Jaguars have the fifth-easiest schedule of any AFC team, per Sharp Football.

The other AFC division favourites in the Chiefs (12th), Bills (13th) and Cincinnati Bengals (seventh) all have tougher schedules.

Expect another step forward for Trevor Lawrence in his third season.

Trevor Lawrence led the Jags on a 6-1 run to close the regular season and win the AFC South. He then captained an absurd playoff comeback against the Chargers before losing by only seven points to the Chiefs.

Entering his second year with head coach Doug Pederson plus the addition of Calvin Ridley to the offence, expect Lawrence to take another step forward.

AFC division winner bets

The number of elite teams littered through the AFC makes the division markets enticing for bettors.

There really are more teams in their Super Bowl window than there are playoff spots, which likely means we're going to see at least a couple of shocking results at the top of the standings.

AFC best bets: Top pick to win the East

Best Bet: Buffalo Bills (+120)

The Bills held -230 odds to win the division ahead of last season but that number is significantly longer for 2023.

That largely has to do with Aaron Rodgers joining the Jets and the emergence of the Dolphins. Both teams split the season series with Buffalo last year, proving the gap is shrinking.

But we're happy to take the Bills at plus-money odds with Allen healthy again and both New York and Miami having bigger QB concerns.

The concussion issues Tua Tagovailoa faced last season were severe and it forced him to sit during Miami's playoff game against Buffalo. The Dolphins have a case of being the class of this division when he's healthy, but it's difficult to forecast him playing a whole season.

Aaron Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer but he might just be closer to Canton, Ohio, than the prime of his career. Rodgers posted his worst yards per attempt (6.8) since 2015 and threw nearly as many interceptions (12) as he had in the previous three seasons (13).

Until somebody else wrestles the AFC East from the three-time running champs, we're taking Buffalo.

Best pick to win the AFC North

Best Bet: Baltimore Ravens (+220)

There's too much tantalizing upside with Baltimore to ignore.

The Ravens were 8-4 in games Lamar Jackson appeared in last season and 2-4 when he sat, including a postseason loss to Cincinnati.

Jackson is healthy now and has a new offensive coordinator as well as a revamped receiving core, highlighted by Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman and first-round pick Zay Flowers.

Elsewhere, there are some questions surrounding the health of Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow. Head coach Zac Taylor has been extraordinarily vague on listing a timeline for his return from a calf injury, making it fair to doubt his status for Week 1 and beyond.

The Cleveland Browns have an intriguing bounce-back case if Deshaun Watson is able to regain form, but it's been years since we've seen him playing at an all-pro level.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are typically competitive, but we're doubting their chances of hanging with the upper echelon of this division.

The Ravens have a high floor and a high ceiling. If Jackson is healthy, they have a legitimate chance at taking this division.

Best pick to win the AFC South

Best Bet: Jacksonville Jaguars (-167)

Jacksonville really isn't facing much competition in the AFC South.

The Tennessee Titans are operating as if they're still a contender but their window looks shut to us. Ryan Tannehill only played 12 games last season due to an ankle injury and it seems unlikely he makes it through this year without getting hurt.

The Titans have the worst-graded offensive line in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. It's a unit that's full of underwhelming veterans alongside intriguing rookie Peter Skoronski, who'll have a daunting task as a first-year player.

The Indianapolis Colts drafted quarterback Anthony Richardson, who will be the team's starter. Expecting instant success from the athletic QB seems unlikely considering he only had 393 collegiate pass attempts and an underwhelming 53.8% completion percentage in his final season at Florida.

Then there's the Houston Texans. Houston drafted rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and defensive end Will Anderson Jr. with the second and third picks, respectively, in the NFL draft. Despite the additions, their roster lacks the surrounding talent to compete as evidenced by Houston's projected 6.5-game win total.

That leaves Jacksonville, who we'll pay the vig with to win this division.

Best pick to win the AFC West

Best Bet: Los Angeles Chargers (+325)

Kansas City's -182 odds to win this division are a little too rich for us considering how good the Chargers are.

Los Angeles checks off pretty much every single box when trying to find a team with longer odds to back. Justin Herbert toughed out a rib injury and still guided the Bolts to a playoff berth. He did so with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both missing extensive amounts of time with injury.

Herbert also got the team to the postseason without Pro Bowl offensive lineman Rashawn Slater. The 2021 first-round pick suffered a serious bicep injury which limited him to just three games last year.

The ceiling is high for a Los Angeles Chargers team with a healthy Justin Herbert.

The 25-year-old QB will have a new option at his disposal and a new offensive coordinator calling the shots, too. The Chargers selected wide receiver Quentin Johnson in the first round of the 2023 draft and hired Kellen Moore as their new OC.

We're not knocking the Chiefs, but Travis Kelce is turning 34 this year and all-pro defensive tackle Chris Jones still hasn't reported to training camp. Jones is searching for a new contract as he enters the final year of his current deal.

The Denver Broncos figure to be better with Sean Payton manning the squad, but how much does Russell Wilson have left in the tank? The last two years have shown that he's clearly declining.

And then there's the Las Vegas Raiders, who would shock pretty much everyone if they managed to somehow finish first in the AFC West.

AFC best bets: Our favourite win total pick

Best Bet: Titans under 7.5 wins (-124)

We're really looking to fade the Titans this upcoming season.

While Tennessee's offensive line is a problem, its defence should be an issue as well. The unit has held water in recent years, but an influx of departures headlined by Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham create some significant holes.

The team is already running into injury issues in training camp as second-year wideout Treylon Burks will miss a few weeks with a sprained LCL.

The Titans added DeAndre Hopkins and while he figures to help the offence, it's hard to imagine he completely revamps a group that averaged the fifth-fewest points per game (17.5) a season ago.

Though the division figures to be the easiest in the AFC, Tennessee only managed a split (3-3) against its rivals in 2022.

The Titans won seven games a year ago and we're not expecting improvement this upcoming season.

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