The NFL just closed the book on Week 6 of the regular season and for the most part the division races have gone according to script. As with every season there are a couple of early surprises and unexpected twist and turns that have the potential to provide a sizable return on investment for anyone who put a timely wager on certain teams to win their division. This week will take a close look at the AFC to see how the preseason odds have held up in all four division races.
New England opened as the odds-on-favorite to win this year’s Super Bowl so it is no surprise it opened as a prohibitive favorite to win the AFC East at -155. The Patriots have held true to form with a 5-1 start while firmly establishing themselves as the team to beat in the conference. Buffalo has been the shocker with a 4-2 start that suddenly added quite a bit of value to its +2200 odds to win the East. The other shocker has been the floundering Jets who pounded-out a 24-6 win over Miami this past Monday night just to get back to .500 at 3-3. With one loss already to New England, all the value has been squeezed out of the Jets +155 odds to win the division. Miami opened at +800 and after a 0-5 start is more concerned with its odds for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
There has been a flip-flop in the AFC North with Baltimore grabbing the early advantage over 4-2 Pittsburgh with a 4-1 record of its own and an opening-day win over the Steelers. Pittsburgh was opened as the favorite to once again win the North at -105 and still has plenty of time to close the gap, but right now the Ravens appear to be the better team and a much better value if you were able to lock them in at +115. Cleveland was third at +900 and Cincinnati was fourth at +1600. While it is still too early to officially declare them out of the race, the reality is they are out of the race.
Peyton Manning single-handedly changed the complexion of the AFC South with his neck injury as Indianapolis went from being the +105 favorite to 0-6 and battling the Dolphins for the first pick in the draft. Houston was the second-favorite at +180, but is suddenly fighting for its life at 3-3 after a promising 2-0 start. If the Texans can get healthy in a hurry, they should be able to find their way back to the top of the heap. If Houston continues to falter, a surprising Tennessee at 3-2 would be in line to claim the top spot in the division. At +600, the Titans have the best shot at providing the biggest pay day for anyone brave enough to have wagered on them back in August. Jacksonville was the fourth-favorite at +700 and drained any potential value out of those odds when it got rid of its starting quarterback just days before the regular season started.
The most intriguing race in the AFC is in the West where San Diego’s 4-1 start has it holding-up its end of the deal as a prohibitive -240 favorite to reclaim the division title. The reality is that the Chargers have not looked overly impressive in compiling this record and still appear very vulnerable to keeping this race tight until the end. Kansas City was the second-favorite at +425 to repeats as division champions and despite a dreadful 0-3 start, the Chiefs have won two in-a-row to crawl back into the picture. The real contender to offer another big pay day at +550 is Oakland at 4-2. The recent addition of Carson Palmer could either seal the deal for the Raiders to overtake San Diego, or keep them at arm’s length for second-straight season. Denver (+1200) at 1-4 has also tossed its hat in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, unless Tim Tebow starts playing like he is back at Florida and leading the Gators to a national championship.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.