The CFL is back, which means that NFL training camps and preseason action are not far behind. As we move toward the summer months, let’s take a look at the updated futures to see who is favored in each AFC division.
It should come as no surprise that New England is favored (-650). The Patriots are coming off a tough Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia and it feels like their dynasty is slowly coming to an end. There’s talk of Tom Brady’s retirement and a Rob Gronkowski trade, and the team has lost a number of key pieces on offense. However, this team is still the class of the division. The Jets (+1100) and Bills (+1100) just drafted quarterbacks in the top 10 of the 2018 NFL draft and the Miami Dolphins (+1000) are a work-in-progress. Even if the Patriots stumble, there doesn’t appear to be anyone ready to take their spot.
Pittsburgh (-280) is favored in the AFC North because it’s a Super Bowl contender and the other teams are borderline playoff caliber. The most interesting team might be the Browns (+1200), who had an extreme makeover in the offseason. They drafted Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick and acquired Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor and Carlos Hyde. The Bengals (+1000) and the Ravens (+400) did not do a whole lot during the offseason. The Ravens defense is strong but they need to sort out their offense if they’re to contend.
The South could be the most interesting division as a whole in the AFC this season. Jacksonville is favored at +180, just ahead of Houston at +185. Tennessee comes in at +333 and Indianapolis is not far behind at +500. Jacksonville rode a tough defense, Leonard Fournette and limited mistakes by Blake Bortles to the AFC title game last year. The Texans looked great until Deshaun Watson got hurt but he and J.J. Watt are both healthy now. Is this a playoff team? The Titans made the postseason last year but fired head coach Mike Mularkey and made some changes. And don’t forget about the Colts, who at one time were the class of the division when Andrew Luck was healthy. This could be the toughest division in football.
The Los Angeles Chargers are the favorites in the West at +175 while Oakland and Kansas City are next at +275. Denver comes in at +400. Philip Rivers still leads the Chargers but he’s in the twilight of his career. The Bolts have the talent to make a playoff run but they’re far too often shooting themselves in the foot, like missing easy game-winning field goals. Bringing back Jon Gruden as head coach was the big news of the offseason in Oakland but is he still in touch with the game? It seems like Oakland has loaded up on veterans but maybe the game has changed too much from when Gruden was in his prime. The Chiefs made big changes too as they traded Alex Smith and gave the reins to Patrick Mahomes. Andy Reid has a way of making teams competitive, so maybe this squad won’t see a huge drop-off. Lastly, the Broncos are giving Case Keenum a shot at quarterback after his success in Minnesota. The logic has been that the Broncos still have an elite defense and were merely missing a quarterback on offense, but their struggles last season could indicate that this team has far more holes than just that.