The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC Championship for the past two seasons, and they’re the favorites on the futures board at +175 odds to win the conference title and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for a third-straight season. The Tennessee Titans are the #1 seed but are only +330 odds to win the AFC Championship, sitting slightly ahead of the Buffalo Bills at +350.
The New England Patriots won the AFC Championship five times since 2011, but haven’t finished first in the conference since 2018. The Patriots went 10-7 this season and secured an AFC wild-card berth as the #6 seed. If the Evil Empire expects to return to the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick and his rookie quarterback will have to win three games on the road.
|AFC Conference Futures
- Kansas City Chiefs +175
- Tennessee Titans +330
- Buffalo Bills +350
- Cincinnati Bengals +700
- New England Patriots +1000
- Las Vegas Raiders +2000
- Pittsburgh Steelers +3500
The Las Vegas Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers backdoored themselves into playoff berths thanks to an upset from the Jacksonville Jaguars and overtime heroics from the Raiders in the final game of the season. However, both teams are long shots on the AFC futures board, with the Raiders at +2000 odds and the Steelers at +3500 odds.
The Kansas City Chiefs stumbled out of the gate with a slow start, but they finally looked like their old selves in the second half of the season. Their defense has always been their Achilles heel and they had to outgun and outscore opponents to secure playoff wins. The Chiefs actually have a solid defensive squad that will be tested against some fierce opponents in the later rounds. As the #2 seed, the Chiefs opened as -13 favorites against the #7 seeded Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC wild-card round.
The Tennessee Titans secured the #1 seed in the AFC and earned the only bye in the conference, which is a huge deal because it gives running back Derick Henry an extra week to heal his fractured foot. Henry went down in Week 8 and the Titans still locked up the #1 seed without the NFL’s top rusher. In 2019, the Titans got hot in the postseason and went all the way to the AFC title game before they were knocked out by the Chiefs.
Is this the year that the Buffalo Bills march all the way to the Super Bowl? They got there four times in the 1990s, but all of those runs ended with disappointing losses. The Bills are the #3 seed, but have a tough wild-card matchup against the #6 New England Patriots, an AFC East divisional foe. You want to avoid Belichick in the postseason, but at least the Bills get to host the Patriots in Orchard Park where the Bills Mafia will be out in full force. The Bills lost to the Pats earlier in the season during a monsoon in Week 13. Belichick and the Pats passed only three times and pounded the rock all game in a 14-10 victory. It’s payback time for the Bills, who are +350 odds to win the AFC Championship for the first time since 1993.
The Cincinnati Bengals are the Kings of the North in the AFC’s “smashmouth” division. The Bengals went from a four-win team to a 10-win team that gets to host a home playoff game as the #4 seed. Joe Burrow hooked up with his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase for 13 touchdowns this season. The Rookie of the Year candidate was ranked #3 in receiving touchdowns and fourth in total yards. Along with running back Joe Mixon, the Bengals have enough offensive firepower to go the distance against an offensive juggernaut like the Chiefs. After all, the Bengals surprised the Chiefs in a 34-31 shootout in Week 17. The Bengals could meet the Chiefs again for a rematch in the AFC Championship if both squads survive the first two rounds.