• Enda Smith

Enda's Bets: Easy money picking AFC division losers

All of August, pundits described the NFC as super competitive with only a couple of teams not in the playoff race. On the other hand, they wrote the AFC is top heavy with a terrible bottom. Yet no one put two and two together and found the price of a double on the Bengals and Dolphins to finish bottom of their respective divisions.

But that's what we're here for. It's 2/1 and likely the easiest money of the year. Let's see what else we have in the AFC. (Check out our NFC Betting Preview here.)

AFC South

Where do you even begin with this division? Andrew Luck? I suppose that is as apt a place.

I really feel for the man. He stood out to me as one of the genuine good guys in the league that had the talent to go with it. Bad O-Lines and injuries plagued what was on trajectory for a Hall of Fame career. I hope he is healthy and has a happy retirement. I can see him being a good coach someday, even though he's tipped to go into lecturing.

That said, Luck's announcement derailed (and destroyed) some bets I had already made and tipped. I really fancied the Colts to take this division. Now, one man doesn’t make an army and the Colts still have an extremely good roster and head coach. Yet the betting odds flipped on their heads and the Indianapolis is favourite to finish last in this division.

I just can’t have that.

I think it has been lost on some people that the Colts are still a good team and will be competitive, even though quarterback Jacoby Brissett isn’t Luck. But the last time Brissett filled in wasn’t a fair reflection on his ability either. He went 4-11 in 15 starts behind a line that prompted the beginning of the end for Luck. That's no longer there.

I would say my most confident pick is for the Titans to finish bottom of the division. I just think Mariota has been through the ringer in Tennessee, with constant rotation at head coach and coordinator positions since he was drafted. It has led to a lack of consistency and an inability to build season-on-season.

I believe three other teams are built to win in a better capacity. Tennessee has the fourth most difficult schedule in the NFL and everything here just screams that this year will be a disaster for them, especially missing left tackle Taylor Lewan to start the season.

That leaves the Texans and Jaguars to take the division, and I’m going Jags. I was very high on the Jags before Blake Bortles.. played like Blake Bortles. With that amended - Nick Foles is at least competent - I expect the offense to improve, and signs point towards that ferocious defence hitting form after a down year.

I think they are fantastic value here. The O-Line will be better, the QB play will be better and Fournette looks healthy and motivated.

VERDICT: Winner-Jacksonville Jaguars @ 13/5 (B365/William Hill/BetVictor)

4th place-Tennessee Titans @ 21/10 (Coral/Ladbrokes)

AFC East

This is the one division prediction that will likely get me called every name under the sun come the end of the season.

I’ll start with the LOCK; the Dolphins are coming last in this division. I don’t see anyway around it. They are having a fire sale at the moment. It seems fairly obvious that they are tanking for the season and that will be that.

Now onto the interesting bit. I know the Patriots have the easiest passing schedule in the league and head coach Bill Belichick will likely eat the opposing QBs alive. But at their current price, they are no value.

I am so high on the Bills however. They have a strong, talented defence, a young second year QB who showed so much promise at the back end of last year and one very good schedule to aim at.

The Bills start with the Jets, Giants, Bengals, Patriots, Titans and Dolphins in their first six games. They could easily be 4-2 here, and at that stage they won’t be 12/1 to win this division. You could easily make profit by laying your bet off on the exchange for a risk-free profit opportunity if they go on a run early in the season.

I think the Jets will improve this season adding talent in most areas too. But I just have a gut feeling with the Bills. I could be way off; but at 12/1, it’s worth a small stake.

VERDICT: Winner- Buffalo Bills @ 12/1 (BetVictor)

4th place-Miami Dolphins @ 3/5 (Coral/Ladbrokes)

AFC West

This a two-horse race featuring two of last year's premier teams: the Chiefs and the Chargers.

The Chiefs boast an offensive powerhouse with extraordinary talent at all levels, led by the quarterback/ head coach duo of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. There is no hotter name in the NFL than Mahomes at the moment. And there shouldn’t be. He has everything and more to be the face of the league for years to come.

My issue with the Chiefs is their defense. I know they have safety Tyrann Matthieu who I’m a massive fan of and have been since his days at LSU, but his addition doesn't bring this defense up from below par.

The Chargers on the other side are one of the teams I really like in the NFL this year. They are built to win, and if it wasn't for Kansas City being in the division, they'd be super hot coming off a superb campaign last year. Their defense is something to behold, they have such talent at each level that they are primed to be a tough matchup every week no matter who they face.

The injury situation with safety Derwin James is far from ideal but hopefully he’ll return sooner rather than later. But they're still filled with studs like cornerback Desmond King in the secondary.

The offence is also stacked on paper. The contract situation with running back Melvin Gordon is a worry and looks unlikely to resolve itself this season. That will lead to Gordon missing some, if not all their games this year. Still I think the Chargers have the playmakers on offence and defense to lead them to a division title. There should be two teams from this division in the playoffs this year.

Just a quick note on the other two teams, I think the Broncos will see some improvement under head coach Vic Fangio and a defensive resurgence this year, whereas I think the Raiders are talented, but it seems more like a Circus act in Oakland than an NFL franchise.

VERDICT: Winner-L.A. Chargers @ 19/10 (B365)

AFC North

This a tough one. It's a super competitive division with any of three teams able to win it.

We can start by removing the obvious. The Bengals will be finishing last in this division. I will eat my hat if they’re not, it would honestly take a miracle. They are behind three talented teams, and while the odds are short at 4/9, if you can find a bank that will give you an interest rate of 44.44% for 17 weeks saving, please give me a shout!

Onto the division winner. I feel like this could go the way of any of the three other franchises. My gut tells me the Browns, my head says the Ravens, and a lingering emotion tells me that Mike Tomlin and the Steelers will find a way to win after being written off.

I think the Browns are young, talented, hungry and have an excellent atmosphere in the locker room. Couple that with one of the easier schedules in the NFL and it leads to a good season. I think this year could be defensive end Myles Garrett's break out year. He is poised to wreak havoc with a good surrounding cast on the D-Line taking away some of the attention.

So yeah; I am buying into the hype. I think the Browns could really do it this season and at least win the division. We’ll just have to wait and see but one thing is for sure, they’ll be exciting to watch.

VERDICT: Winner-Cleveland Browns @ 6/4 (Betfair/Skybet)

4th place-Cincinnati Bengals @4/9 (William Hill)