Following 13 weeks of exciting regular-season action on the gridiron, there are some drastic changes in the NFL Championship odds at SI Sportsbook since the initial Preseason release.
In the AFC, Kansas City, the preseason favorite by oddsmakers, continues to hold the top spot thanks to their current five-game winning streak. However, New England listed at healthy +3000 odds back in August, are now the second overall betting choice at +333.
Over in the NFC, two of the strong preseason contenders Tampa Bay and Green Bay continue to hold their spots as the top betting choices thanks to the stellar play of star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The surprise so far from the oddsmakers preseason power rankings involves Kyler Murray and Arizona who were +1500 over the summer, but have since been sliced to +333 as they sit in first place in the NFC West with the best record in the NFL at 10-2.
As we know, the NFL postseason changed its format for the first time in 30 years last season, to include an expanded lineup. The league increased the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams - allocating seven spots per conference. The two No. 1 seeds in each conference will earn first-round byes and home-field advantage.
Let’s dive in and see where the value lies with only five weeks remaining in the regular season!
Kansas City (+260)
(8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) - 1st AFC West
Just when everyone was ready to write off the Chiefs in their quest for a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, Kansas City goes on a five-game winning streak. Patrick Mahomes and the offense have struggled, luckily for them, their defense has stepped up to a Championship level and held opponents to 20 points or less during this hot streak. Kansas City, despite being on the road for three of its final five games of the regular season, is favored in every game the rest of the way. I am not convinced that the Chiefs can earn the No. 1 seed, but a first-round bye can never be dismissed when Patrick Mahomes is under center.
New England (+333)
(9-4 SU, 9-4 ATS) - 1st AFC East
After Monday night’s 14-10 win, the Patriots have taken a firm two-game lead over the Bills for the AFC East crown. Mac Jones is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year honors but it's New England's ground game and a strong defense that has Bill Belichick’s squad listed as one of the favorites for the top overall seed in the conference. The Patriots will come out of their bye in Week 15 with matchups against the Colts and a rematch with the Bills before wrapping up the regular season with Jacksonville and Miami.
(7-5 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) - 2nd AFC East
The Bills, despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Josh Allen and one of the best pass defenses, have lost four of their last seven games. Things will not get any easier in Week 14 when Buffalo heads to Tampa Bay to take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. After this week’s potential Super Bowl LVI preview, the Bills will be favored in three of their final four games of the regular season. The one game that will find them as underdogs will be on the road against New England. After Monday night’s loss, Bill Belichick improved to 36-7 (.837) against Buffalo since becoming head coach of the Patriots in 2000.
(8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) - 1st AFC South
The Titans fall to the “Wild Card” grouping simply because this team will need star running back Derrick Henry (foot) to return in time for the playoffs if they are to have any chance to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI. There have been reports that Henry could return to the field this month, but my Vegas sources indicate a return in January is more likely the outcome. Henry’s Jones fracture is not the only injury Tennessee is dealing with as both starting wideouts AJ Brown (chest) and Julio Jones (hamstring) have both missed games over the past month. If the Titans can have their big three back for the postseason, then their healthy odds of +900 offers solid value.
(7-6 SU, 8-5 ATS) - 2nd AFC South
The other team to fill out the “Wild Card” group is Indianapolis, simply because of the notion that a strong running game and a solid defense can lead to a deep championship run. Well, the Colts possess arguably the strongest rushing attack in the NFL thanks to the league’s leading rusher Johnathan Taylor. The phenomenal second-year back is not only likely carrying fantasy managers to league titles, but his production makes Indianapolis the best double-digit (+1600) value on the board in AFC Championship Futures. Taylor needs to average 163 rushing yards over the final four games to attain the 2,000 yard desired goal of every running back. That exclusive list consists of only eight players in NFL history: O.J. Simpson (2,003; 1973), Eric Dickerson (2,105, 1984), Barry Sanders (2,053; 1997), Terrell Davis (2,008; 1998), Jamal Lewis (2,066; 2003), Chris Johnson (2,006; 2009), Adrian Peterson (2,097; 2012), Derrick Henry (2,027, 2020). The Colts will come off their bye in Week 15 with back-to-back tough matchups against the Patriots and Cardinals before closing the regular season with games against the Raiders and Jaguars.
Tampa Bay (+250)
(9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS) - 1st NFC South
Are you willing to bet against the G.O.A.T? Tom Brady has simply been sensational in his 20th season in the NFL. The Buccaneers boast the top-ranked passing offense (311.1 yards per game) and the No. 1 scoring offense (31.4 points per game). Running back Leonard Fournette, who has five touchdowns in his last two games, affords Brady the opportunity to exploit opposing defenses down the field with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski in the passing game. The defending Super Bowl Champions are worthy of the top perch in NFC Futures’ wagering.
Green Bay (+330)
(9-3 SU, 10-2 ATS) - 1st NFC North
The Packers have been the best team for bettors to invest in this season owning a league-best 10-2 ATS mark on the season. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are one the best quarterback and wide receiver combinations in the NFL and when healthy Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon form a solid duo on the ground. Green Bay will be heavily favored in each of their final three regular-season games against Cleveland, Minnesota and Detroit and thanks to the schedule makers will have one of the strongest chances to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.
(10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) - 1st NFC West
The Cardinals impressively won two-of-three games without starting quarterback Kyler Murray (ankle) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring). With both star players now back from injury, Arizona now has one of the strongest offensive units with James Conner in the backfield as well as AJ Green and Christian Kirk joining Hopkins on the outside. Arizona, despite having the best record in the league are not the front runner for the No. 1 seed due to their difficult schedule down the stretch. The Cardinals have tough matchups with the Rams, Colts and Cowboys in three of their final five matchups.
(8-4 SU, 9-3 ATS) - 1st NFC East
The Cowboys land in the ‘Wild Card” grouping in the NFC due to injuries and inconsistent play over the last month. Ezekiel Elliott (knee) is clearly not at full strength and Dallas has been hit hard with COVID-19 issues, which has led to losses to Kansas City and Las Vegas in two of the last three weeks. It has become abundantly clear that the Cowboys need to get Tony Pollard more touches going forward to help keep the offense more balanced. That would enable Dak Prescott to push the ball down the field to Cee Dee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz. Dallas will be favored in all four of their remaining NFC East games, with a matchup against Arizona in Week 17 likely having strong playoff seeding implications.
LA Rams (+500)
(8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) - 2nd NFC West
Los Angeles lands as the longest shot of the top choices in the NFC but could easily become the biggest threat if Odell Beckham Jr. can continue to find the endzone. Any club with the lethal combination of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp will offer value in January. In addition, the Rams possess a formidable defensive unit thanks to the presence of Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Los Angeles has the hardest remaining schedule of any of the top contenders with road matchups against Arizona, Minnesota and Baltimore.
Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.