NFL 2017 AFC: Comprehensive ante post betting guide to every division in the AFC

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NFL nut Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available on the AFC ante post markets.

Oakland to Raid the West

We start with the most competitive division in the AFC. Not sure I could argue against any bet amongst these four. Oakland is favourited on the back of a highly encouraging .if ultimately disappointing 2016 season.

The moment Derek Carr broke his leg on Christmas Eve effectively ended any chance the Raiders had of finally making it back to the biggest game of all. Marshawn Lynch is very interesting. Can he overcome a year off and apathy for the game?

The Oakland native will be limited in the amount of action he sees. It’s still all on Carr. A contender for sure.

Denver Broncos had the top ranked defence in both 2015 and 2016. I see no reason for that not continue. Von Miller is taking them up. He thinks he can get 30 sacks this year. 30. The record is 22.5. Miller is nothing if not confident.

The offensive line has been improved in the draft and free agency but it’s still Trevor Sieman under centre. Post season beckons but hard to see a deep run. Too many good offences in this league.

Kansas opens their season against New England next Thursday. What we can draw from that is the Chiefs will start 0-1!

There is as always a lot to like about the Chiefs. There are few better defences but they do still have Alex Smith as the quarterback. Tyreek Hill is interesting. He seems to have more positions than Alex Oxlade Chamberlain although he has actually produced something on occasions which is a clear difference between the two.

The season ending injury suffered by Spencer Ware is huge. I had them down as a huge threat to Oakland but no longer. I’m going to say 10-6 with no great confidence.

I can’t get used to saying the Los Angeles Chargers. They’re San Diego. Not that it matters. They have been followed up the coast by the injury curse that has plagued them the last few years. Philip Rivers deserves a bit of luck.

They could spring a few surprises defensively and are not to be underestimated on either side of the ball. They lost a lot of very close games in 2016. I’m baffled and intrigued by them, to be honest. Could be a 5-11 football team could go 10-6. Not a clue.

Houston to humble the South off the back of a tragedy

Houston has been in the news a bit this week, hasn’t it? This is so reminiscent of New Orleans after Katrina. I can’t quite see Houston winning a Super Bowl on the back of this particular tragedy but the team will be highly motivated. The brilliant JJ Watt has been busy fundraising millions of dollars this week.

His return from injury is massive and he is one of the most influential players in football. Everybody loves JJ, don’t they? The Texans have high hopes rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson will challenge incumbent Tom Savage.

This will come as no shock to anyone. Tennesee is everyone’s tip for this division and I have to agree. Marcos Mariotta could have a huge season. I like the addition of Eric Decker.

Logan Ryan was a smart call for the Secondary. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry are a huge backfield threat. I like them to win 9 at least. Enough to win the division? Should be.

Jacksonville Jaguars. Hmm. Hard to know what to say about them. It should be working. It isn’t. They have a stacked defence. Managed to get Leonard Fournette the LSU running back with the fourth pick of this year’s draft and finally fired Gus Bradley. It should all be positive in Florida but it’s not. The main reason is probably under centre. Blake Bortles is a problem.

He’s been a disaster this pre season after a 4-12 record in 2016 and playing back up is the ancient Chad Henne. They may somehow avoid being the worst team in this division.

That honour could well go to the Colts. Although to be honest they’d have to be pretty bad to finish below Jacksonville. Not a lot positive going on in Indy right now. Chuck Pagano could easily be the first coach out. I’m amazed he’s lasted this long, to be honest.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said the injury problems that could well delay the start to Andrew Luck’s season are ‘in his head’. That doesn’t sound like a very together organisation to me and that’s normally fatal in the NFL. If Luck does see some game time in September he might not last long behind a very weak offensive line. A long season and a high 2018 draft pick are in store.

Keep your peepers on Pittsburgh in the North

The biggest threat, if there is one, to New England. Pittsburgh could just challenge Atlanta for the most potent offence in football. That’s if they can keep Roethlisberger upright. Bell, Brown, Big Ben and now the returning Martavis Bryant.

These guys could destroy anyone and draft JJ’s little brother on defence was a smart move. TJ could easily follow in big bro’s footsteps. A very deep playoff run. A risky bet only because of how vulnerable the big man is.

Cincinnati should once again provide the biggest threat if Pittsburgh stumble. If Joe Mixon can stay out of jail he could be in for a big rookie season. Vontaze Burfict misses another five games courtesy of being an idiot. That lack of discipline has been a hallmark of the Marv Lewis era.

A surprise in some ways as he’s such a gentle man. You would expect his players to have a little more respect. Talent will win this team plenty of games. That familiar ability to control themselves will ensure they lose plenty.

John Harburgh is treading water in Baltimore. They’ve stood still for a good number of years. Losing Elvis Dumervill to San Francisco was silly.

Thinking this team goes anywhere under Joe Flacco is plain stupid. You and I can see that but you can almost guarantee Flacco will be going 9-7 or 8-8 for years to come. Danny Woodhead is a good addition actually.

He’ll be a weapon in the short passing game and the ball of energy they’ve been missing since Ray Rice was rightfully booted out of football. Unless you’re a fan, there is nothing attractive about this team.

Cleveland Browns. You got to love a team that wins one game in a season, hires the dreadful Brock Osweiller from Houston and then cuts him before the season starts having paid him $16m to do little more than learning a few plays. It’s beyond belief.

And yet I have a feeling that they’ll do a whole lot better than last year. I don’t know why. It’s probably not logical but I see them winning 5 maybe 6 games. I like their running backs, I like the offensive line, I like the rookie quarterback. Please, Cleveland.

Please don’t make me look like an idiot.

New England is notoriously reliable

After starting with the most competitive division it seems fitting to end with the least. New England has won 14 of the last 16 titles and surely nobody can think anything other than 15 of 17.

They will overcome the injury to Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks could just be the best receiver Brady has had since Randy. A tough schedule looks like stopping any attempt at 19-0, the last 6 are very tough but they’re going all the way again.

I’m looking forward to a meeting with Pittsburgh at Gillette in the Championship Game.

The only credible threat surely lies in Miami but I use the word credible in the loosest sense. Miami could well finish second some five or six games back. It’s not close especially with my old ‘favourite’ Jay Cutler coming out of his three-week retirement to rejoin Adam Gase in Florida.

Jay Ajayi is very good if extremely inconsistent running back. He broke 200 yards three times last season but on eight other occasions failed to gain more than 52. You need a lot more than that knowing the Pats will win a minimum of 12.

Sean McDermott has a job on his hands in Buffalo. I’m not even sure it’s possible to get more than 8 wins out of a Tyrod Taylor lead team. It’s even harder to do so as a running team in what is now primarily a passing league. Sammy Watkins is a loss kind of. Jordan Matthews is a replacement. Kind of. The Bills have the toughest schedule of any team in 2017.

Sammy Watkins is a loss kind of. Jordan Matthews is a replacement. Kind of. The Bills have the toughest schedule of any team in 2017.

If you were the rookie head coach you would take 8-8 right now. The Bills haven’t seen January football since 1999. That’s unlikely to change.

Let’s finish on a low. The low that is the New York Jets. I have absolutely nothing positive to say. Josh McCown is the starting quarterback, they’ve tried long, hard and unsuccessfully to trade Matt Forte. Decker and Marshall have disappeared.

Todd Bowles is left with possibly the worst receiving corps in the history of the NFL. Welcome to the first draft pick of 2018. I don’t see where they win a game.

Best Bets

NFL 2017/18 – New York Jets to go 0-16  (25/1 Coral)

NFL 2017/18 – Miami Dolphins to finish 2nd in AFC East (10/11 Coral)

NFL 2017/18 – Tennesee Titans-Houston Texans straight forecast (23/4 Sportingbet )

NFL 2017/18 – David Johnson most rushing yards, Drew Brees most passing yards, Antonio Brown most receiving yards (80/1 Paddy Power

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I have been interested in betting since a stint managing a bookmakers 20 years ago. I now work in the travel industry but spend 90% of my day thinking (and talking)about sport. Rarely missing an Arsenal home game, I still find time for my 25 year obsession with the NFL and the Chicago Bears in particular. I'm still stuck in the 80's and can't find anything better to listen to than The Jam or The Smiths. I am a stats junkie where the NFL is concerned and there is no sport in the world where they matter more. My mission is to convert you all to a wonderful sport. Oh and win a few quid along the way.

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