The NFL postseason begins on Saturday with Wild Card Weekend. DraftKings updated its NFL futures board, and the Kansas City Chiefs are the betting favorite to win the AFC Championship at +170 odds, putting them slightly ahead of the Buffalo Bills at +200 odds.
If you follow the money, the market suggests the Chiefs and Bills are the top two favorites on the board, and the top two seeds in the AFC. Both teams are on opposite sides of the NFL playoffs bracket, with the Chiefs securing the #1 seed and a first-round bye, and the Bills getting the #2 seed.
|Team||AFC Championship Odds
|Kansas City Chiefs||+170|
There’s a prevailing sentiment that the top-heavy AFC has the three best teams in the NFL, including the #1 Chiefs, #2 Bills, and #3 Bengals. If the Bills and Bengals win their first-round matchups, they’ll meet in the AFC Divisional Round, with the winner potentially playing the top-seeded Chiefs in the AFC Championship.
Kansas City Chiefs +170
- AFC Playoff Seed: #1
- Record: 14-3
- Super Bowl LVII Odds: +350
The Chefs appeared in the AFC Championship game in four consecutive postseasons. They were AFC Champions in 2019 and 2020, advancing to the Super Bowl. They lost to the New England Patriots in 2018 and lost to the Bengals in 2021.
The Chiefs have the benefit of the only bye in the AFC. They’ll play the winner of the #5 LA Chargers vs. #4 Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round.
The Bills were the consensus favorite to win the Super Bowl for most of the season. The Chiefs were the outright favorite or cofavorite at the end of Week 11, Week 12, and Week 18. They enter the postseason as the betting favorite to win the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl LVII. Despite all the great teams over the last few seasons, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid only won one Super Bowl together.
Buffalo Bills +200
- AFC Playoff Seed: #2
- Record: 13-3
- Super Bowl LVII Odds:+400
The Bills seemed like a team of destiny before Damar Hamlin collapsed on Monday Night Football in Week 17. They now have extra incentive to run the table in the playoffs and finally win their first Super Bowl. Head coach Sean McDermott doesn’t want the Bills to get too far ahead of themselves. They need to focus on one game and one opponent at a time.
The #2 Bills square off against the #7 Miami Dolphins in the first round. The two AFC East foes split their season series. The Dolphins won a Week 3 matchup at home by just two points. The Bills failed to score on their final possession of the game when the clock ran out. The Bills won the rematch by only three points in Week 15 in Buffalo. Although snow was predicted all game, it didn’t begin falling until the fourth quarter. The Bills rallied back to win on a Tyler Bass field goal as time expired.
The Bills are a -9 favorite in the rubber match on Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals +450
- AFC Playoff Seed: #3
- Record: 12-4
- Super Bowl LVII Odds: +850
The Cincinnati Bengals are the reigning AFC champions after they upset the Chiefs last year. The Bengals are +450 odds to win the AFC Championship in back-to-back postseasons.
The Bengals won the AFC North and locked up the #3 seed. They advanced to the Super Bowl last season as a wild-card team that won all their games on the road. This year, they’re a division winner and get to host at least one home game in the first round. The Bengals face a divisional rival when the #6 Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Bengals are -7 favorites.
The Ravens and Bengals played twice this season, and the home team won each game. The Ravens edged out the Bengals by two points in Week 5, and the Bengals defeated the Ravens by nine points in Week 18. With the victory, the Bengals head into the postseason as the hottest team in the AFC, boasting an eight-game winning streak.
LA Chargers +1000
- AFC Playoff Seed: #5
- Record: 10-7
- Super Bowl LVII Odds: +2000
The Los Angeles Chargers won 10 games this season even though quarterback Justin Herbert played most of the season with a painful rib cartilage injury. The Chargers head into the postseason with three injured starters, including edge rusher Nick Bosa and wide receiver Mike Williams. Both starters are expected to play on Saturday when the #4 Jacksonville Jaguars host the #5 Chargers.
The Chargers are a slight road favorite at -1, but you can find them at -2 at DraftKings. They’re the only road team that’s a betting favorite among AFC teams during Wild Card Weekend.
The Chargers are seeking to avenge a Week 3 loss against the Jaguars. They were crushed 38-10 in the first game that Herbert played after the painful injury to his ribs. He struggled and the offense suffered with only 10 points. Herbert is healthy heading into the postseason. But the Jaguars are playing their best ball of the season by winning six out of their last seven games.
Baltimore Ravens +1800
- AFC Playoff Seed: #6
- Record: 10-7
- Super Bowl LVII Odds: +3500
The Ravens saw their Super Bowl aspirations dashed in Week 13 when quarterback Lamar Jackson exited a game against the Denver Broncos with a knee injury. Jackson had a hot start to the season and was an early betting favorite to win the MVP. He missed the last five games with his knee injury and his future looks grim.
Early reports out of Baltimore suggest that Jackson is a long shot to suit up on Sunday night. Ian Rapoport from the NFL Network said it’s “not looking good” that Jackson will play against the Bengals. Even if Jackson plays, how effective can he be in his first game back from a serious knee injury?
Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley went 2-3 as a starter in the last five games to end the season, and the Ravens dropped three out of their last four games. Their offense struggled with Huntley under center, and the Ravens averaged only 13 points per game since Jackson’s injury.
The Ravens still qualified for the postseason as the #6 seed, but it will be tough to beat the Bengals without Jackson in the lineup.
Jacksonville Jaguars +2000
- AFC Playoff Seed: #4
- Record: 9-8
- Super Bowl LVII Odds: +5000
What a difference a season and competent coach can make for a young, up-and-coming squad. Last season, the Jaguars were one of the worst teams in the NFL after they made a horrible decision to hire Urban Meyer as their head coach. After the season, owner Shad Khan fired Meyer and made a wise decision to hire Doug Pederson.
Pederson is a former NFL quarterback who led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl victory as a head coach a couple of seasons ago. Pederson was an ideal head coach to help mentor Trevor Lawrence, the #1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, who looked utterly lost and ineffective under Meyer.
The Jaguars overcame a slow start and finished the season on a strong note. They head into the postseason with a five-game winning streak. You can make a valid argument that they’ve been in playoff mode over the last couple of weeks by facing must-win situations to keep their postseason hopes alive. The Jaguars defeated the Tennessee Titans in Week 18 to win the AFC South and secure an automatic berth to the postseason, which included a home game in the first round.
The Jaguars beat the Chargers earlier in the season. But they know they had the good fortune of playing them with a banged-up Herbert. The Herbert vs. Lawrence matchup features two of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, so everyone is excited to see two future stars slug it out in the postseason.
The Jaguars are a slight home dog at +1, but you can back them at +2 at DraftKings. It’s a miracle that the Jaguars are even in the playoffs, considering how awful they looked last season. Pederson and the Jaguars would love to replicate the Bengals’ magical run last season when they went from one of the worst teams in the NFL to the AFC Champion.
The Jaguars are one of the long shots on the futures board at +2000 odds to win the AFC Championship.
Miami Dolphins +3000
- AFC Playoff Seed: #7
- Record: 9-8
- Super Bowl LVII Odds: +6000
“Who will start at quarterback for the Miami Dolphins this weekend?” is the big question everyone in South Florida is wondering.
Starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is still in concussion protocol and the Dolphins haven’t confirmed whether or not he’s shut down for the entire postseason. It seems unlikely that he plays after suffering three concussions this season.
Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater sustained a dislocated pinkie injury in Week 17. He struggled to grip and throw the football with his injured finger, so the Dolphins started third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson in the final game of the season. Thompson, as a rookie, won a must-win game for the Dolphins, who locked up the #7 seed and final AFC wild-card spot.
If Bridgewater can play, he’ll start against the Bills on Sunday. If he still can’t grip the football properly, then Thompson will start in consecutive weeks. The Dolphins are the biggest underdog on the board in the Wild Card Weekend at +9. They opened at +11, but the line moved two points over the last couple of days.
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