Finding value in the AFC divisions market means futures bettors need to look beyond Kansas City and Buffalo, both formidable but offered at below-even odds. Here are three division-winner plays at plus money, with their BettingPros consensus prices.
Check out our consensus futures odds for division winners >>
Tennessee Titans (+110)
Tennessee is essentially co-favored with Indianapolis in the South, as neither Jacksonville nor Houston appears ready to compete in this battle of haves and have-nots. Yet the Titans, who edged Indy in a tie-breaker last year when both teams went 11-5, are primed to win it more comfortably after trading for Julio Jones to pair with A.J. Brown, giving quarterback Ryan Tannehill a dynamic receiving duo.
The move elevates an offense that was already among the NFL’s best, potentially helping Tennessee challenge the Chiefs for the conference crown. With Derrick Henry, the league’s leading rusher for two straight years, heading the running game, the Titans feature a balanced attack.
After posting winning records in each of coach Mike Vrabel’s three seasons, Tennessee can be even stronger in 2021 if it improves on defense. Personnel moves include bringing in free-agent pass rusher Bud Dupree and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Special emphasis will be placed on fixing the unit’s third-down performance, its Achilles’ heel, in 2020. At minicamp, new coordinator Shane Bowen and veteran coach Jim Schwartz, who came aboard as a special assistant, made it clear that is Job One.
Cleveland Browns (+145)
The North was the toughest AFC division last year, with three teams winning 11 or more games. It’s shaping up similarly with Baltimore narrowly favored over Cleveland in early wagering and the always-dangerous Steelers, who stumbled late but hung on for the title in 2020, looming as the third choice.
The Browns boast one of the NFL’s deepest rosters and, with the benefit of long-overdue continuity, may be poised for their turn at the top. Cleveland won’t catch anyone by surprise after Kevin Stefanski, in his initial season, snagged coach-of-the-year honors guiding the squad to its best year since rebooting.
But the Browns can take another step forward with a fortified secondary and continued improvement from unfairly maligned quarterback Baker Mayfield, relegating the franchise’s “Factory of Sadness” days further to the past. Mayfield threw 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season, guiding the team to a 6-2 record in the second half and its first playoff victory in decades. A more normal off-season may help him gel better with deep target Odell Beckham Jr., who returns from injury.
Miami Dolphins (+325)
In another rugged division, Miami appears stuck between a rock (the defending champ Bills, with ascending QB Josh Allen) and a hard place (the Patriots, whose mastermind Bill Belichick went on an uncharacteristic free-agency shopping spree after his first losing season since 2000). The Dolphins, after narrowly missing the postseason at 10-6 last season, can seize the East regardless in coach Brian Flores’s third year if they make strides on offense and limit regression on defense.
New receivers Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle, the No. 6 overall draft pick, and holdover DeVante Parker will need to click with QB Tua Tagovailoa on enough big plays. The young offensive line, with three second-year starters, also must show improvement.
Tagovailoa got a late start last season between pandemic-related restrictions, recovery from a hip injury sustained in November 2019, and his acknowledged unfamiliarity with the playbook. The former University of Alabama star is healthier and prepping hard for his second year.
Miami’s defense lost several starters to free agency after ranking sixth in the NFL in points allowed and first in forced turnovers. But Flores and coordinator Josh Boyer, tabbed by Pro Football Focus as one of the league’s best play-callers in 2020, can regroup. One not-so-secret weapon is the team’s other first-round draft choice, the versatile pass-rushing linebacker Jaelan Phillips.
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