The hierarchy of the eight NFL divisions is beginning to shake out.
The Buccaneers, for instance, are -20000 to win the NFC South. It wouldn’t be wise to throw some money on the Saints to make a run and take the division crown considering the chokehold Tampa Bay has on the division.
But there are still a few divisions where there’s still an ongoing battle for the top spot, particularly in the AFC. Our writers discussed which current non-division leader they would bet to make a run in the final month of the season and take the title.
SI Fantasy’s Craig Ellenport: Bills -125 To Win AFC East
While Monday night's bizarre game is still fresh in everyone's mind and the Patriots are being crowned AFC champs, I'm going to get on the bandwagon that everyone else is jumping off of: Buffalo. The Patriots have a tougher schedule -- they come off the bye with a game at Indy, then the Bills will seek their revenge one day after Christmas. As good as New England has been playing, I can see them losing those two games. Which means that if the Bills go 3-1 down the stretch, the Patriots will need to win their regular-season finale in Miami just to tie for first. But the Bills would win the tiebreaker.
SI Betting’s Frankie Taddeo: Not Worth The Risk
Only the Colts or Bengals have 'longshot' potential but neither are being offered at enough value to invest in. All bettors who place wagers in these adjusted odds are at the mercy of the oddsmakers, while at the same time tying up funds for five weeks. I am holding just one Division Future on the Titans to win the AFC South at +105 placed back in early August. To put my previous words in perspective, highlighting the significant loss of value, Tennessee is now -1613 to win the division. The Colts have Jonathan Taylor but Indianapolis does not have enough games left to close the gap. Meanwhile, if any bettors are considering making an investment in support of the Bengals overtaking the Ravens for the AFC North, look no further than the fact Cincinnati has lost to the Jets this season! Instead of placing a wager in these markets, which fail to offer "true odds", focus on spots where you can exploit an edge and reinvest daily.
SI Betting’s Bill Enright: Colts +700 to Win AFC South
Not only would I bet this, but already have and locked in what would be a great payout at +700. The Colts are coming on strong with four wins in their last five games. Meanwhile, the Titans have lost their last two games and thanks to a series of injuries to key players, are trending in the wrong direction. Tennessee has a one-game lead in the AFC South and Indy has two tough matchups in Week 14 and 15 against the Patriots and Cardinals. But the Frank Reich coached squad finishes with the Raiders and Jaguars while the Titans play the Jaguars, Steelers, 49ers, and Dolphins. How do the Colts manage to get ahead while trailing by a game with only four games left? They would need to go 3-1 and the Titans go 1-3 in the final month of the season. Wishful thinking? Absolutely! But hey it’s the Holiday Season and who wouldn’t want to root for a Christmas Miracle.
SI Betting’s Matt Ehalt: Bengals +250 To Win AFC North
I see two teams with viable shots: the Colts and Bengals. I don't trust the Bengals, and don't believe they are that good, but I see a clearer path to the division than the Colts, who have lost both games to the Titans. The Bengals (7-5) already beat the division-leading Ravens (8-4) on the road, and will welcome Baltimore on Dec. 26. The Ravens are dealing with so many injuries, and still have to play the Rams and Packers. There's a door open for the Bengals at +250 odds.
SI Betting’s Kyle Wood: Chargers +200 to Win AFC West
I’m going to do something that’s proven foolish time and time again and bet against the Chiefs. The Chargers at +200 to win the AFC West aren’t as good a value as the Colts at +700. However, there’s a few factors working in L.A.’s favor. The Chargers already have a win over Kansas City this season in Arrowhead Stadium. They play again Week 15 in Los Angeles. Beyond that, the Chargers have the 27th-easiest remaining schedule in the NFL, according to Tankathon.com. The Chiefs have the 10th-most difficult slate, including three of their final five games on the road. K.C. has momentum right now, but the Chargers can weather the storm, sweep the Chiefs and win the division for the first time since 2009.
MMQB's Gary Gramling: Browns + 650 to win AFC North
In general, don’t bet the Browns, they’re the Zippy Chippy of NFL teams. But, in this case… maybe bet the Browns. A couple things about Cleveland’s season so far: They’ve been moderately unlucky. They rank near the bottom of the league in opponent kicker “defense” (“defense” being in quotes because opponent kicker performance is almost entirely luck) and they’re one of the least efficient red-zone teams on both sides of the ball, though red-zone efficiency tends to be a fickle stat due to small sample size. What they have going forward is a defensive front four that can dominate, and a really good offensive line (even without Jack Conklin) and run game. Baker Mayfield is banged up and clearly not the QB he was this time last year, but he had a chance to heal up with the bye week. They get the Ravens at home this week with a chance to pull to within a game of the division lead, and the Bengals at home in the regular-season finale—winning those two games would likely clinch any head-to-head tiebreaker over those two teams. They still have to go to Green Bay, but otherwise have winnable games at Pittsburgh and vs. Vegas. Basically, they have a chance to get to 10–7—and clinch tiebreakers against the division’s top two teams. A likely scenario? No. But a scenario that has better than a 13% chance of happening? Most definitely.
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