The NFL playoffs are upon us, and we're digging in to the full slate with a betting lens here at Yardbarker. In case you missed it, we broke down the NFC betting preview and now turn our attention to the AFC.
If you're interested in placing futures bets on a team to win the conference or the Super Bowl, now is the time to do so. As the field shrinks, teams' odds tend to get worse.
In case you're unfamiliar with the NFL playoff format, there is one team that gets a bye, and that team faces off against the lowest seed left in the divisional round.
It's important to plan for that when mapping out a team's path through the playoffs. Neither the Chiefs or Bills can play the Titans in the divisional round, and if the Steelers win they guarantee themselves a date with Tennessee as the seventh seed.
If Kansas City wins on wild-card weekend, it will host a divisional round game. These are the types of factors we want you to be aware off when looking at futures bets in the AFC.
#7 Pittsburgh Steelers vs #2 Kansas City Chiefs
#6 New England Patriots vs #3 Buffalo Bills
#5 Las Vegas Raiders vs #4 Cincinnati Bengals
Bye: #1 Tennessee Titans
To Win AFC
Tennessee offers some very intriguing betting value to win the AFC for the sheer reason it has one less game to do so. The Titans haven't got much respect from sportsbooks all year despite being the top seed in the AFC, and with Derrick Henry rumored to return for the playoff run, one has to like +310 for the No. 1 seed.
Kansas City is the favorite to win the AFC for the third-straight year and certainly has the experience you covet in a playoff team. One negative draw is that Kansas City will face a tougher team in the divisional round, should it get there.
The most likely opponent for the Chiefs would be the Bills or Bengals, two teams they've lost to this year. With that consideration, I don't like the +175 value for Kansas City at all.
To Win Super Bowl
#2 Kansas City over #7 Pittsburgh
I'm not going to overthink this one. It's a great story that Ben Roethlisberger has a playoff game in his final season with the Steelers, but the run is going to end on Sunday.
This Pittsburgh defense has been an issue all season. Patrick Mahomes and this offense are going to have their way against the Steelers. Kansas City's sixth-ranked pass-blocking unit (according to PFF) should be able to mitigate the impact of T.J. Watt.
This is the largest spread of the weekend (Kansas City -12.5), and I don't expect it to be close.
#3 Buffalo over #6 New England
This is the third-straight playoff appearance for Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, and after reaching the AFC Championship last year, I expect them to continue their postseason success.
These AFC East rivals have split their games this season. New England won the first in a game it threw the ball just three times, while Buffalo handled business in the rematch, winning 33-21.
Bill Belichick back in the playoffs is noteworthy, especially with a rookie quarterback, but Buffalo is the superior team with the far better QB.
The Bills have the top defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA rankings, and I'll give the edge to the home team.
The Patriots have done a good job running the football this year, but I'm less-than-enthused about their passing abilities in this one. Considering the Bills rank first in opponent's yards per pass attempt, Mac Jones figures to struggle to move the ball without a top receiver at his disposal.
#4 Cincinnati over #5 Las Vegas
What a story the Bengals are! A year after drafting Joe Burrow with the top pick in the draft, they find themselves the AFC North champions, hosting a game on wild-card weekend.
The Bengals sport an explosive offense, with a loaded group of receivers led by likely Rookie of the Year Ja'Marr Chase.
DVOA grades the Raiders' pass defense 21st in the league, which should allow Burrow to operate downfield.
The Bengals defense isn't overtly menacing either, so this has shootout potential to get our wild-card games started on Saturday.
Ultimately, I'm riding the momentum of Cincy into the divisional round.
#1 Tennessee over #4 Cincinnati
The Titans are back in the playoffs for the third straight year under Mike Vrabel, having reached the AFC Championship Game in 2020 and losing in the wild-card round last year.
Tennessee is 7-2 at home this year and 6-3 against the spread, so to secure home-field advantage is extremely important when you project the AFC playoff race.
The return of Henry cannot be understated. As an NFL fan, there is no doubt you are aware of the impact the 2020 Offensive Player of the Year has on this offense.
Henry broke his foot two months ago and is still ninth in the NFL in rushing yards.
Let that sink in for a moment.
In just eight games, Henry ranks inside the top 10 of total rushing yardage. His return would be a massive jolt to this offense.
With A.J. Brown healthy, Ryan Tannehill looking sharp of late and at home, I think the Titans offer bettors strong value in these playoffs.
I'll take the experienced team getting healthier to take down the Bengals or whomever the Titans face in the divisional round.
#3 Buffalo over #2 Kansas City
If we get chalk in the wild-card round we'll be rewarded with a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game, a game that wasn't very close.
Allen and Mahomes are two of the best young QBs in the league, a matchup we will hopefully enjoy for the next decade in the AFC playoffs.
I'll give Allen the nod here in the budding rivalry. I think Buffalo has stronger depth on offense and a better defense. The Bills have also been running very well led by Devin Singletary.
The Chiefs rank 31st in opponent's yards per rush attempt, and Football Outsiders grades their run defense as a bottom-15 unit.
Tennessee +330 on DraftKings
If the AFC playoffs fold out like I predicted, we'd get a rematch of a great Week 6 game, a game that saw Tennessee come from behind to beat Buffalo 34-31.
Henry had three touchdowns and 143 yards in that one while Allen spread the ball throughout the offense, throwing for 353 yards and three scores.
The Titans and Bills are two of my favorites to win the AFC this year and make the Super Bowl, and both offer solid betting value.
From a betting perspective, the nod has to go to Tennessee. One less game and playing at home are massive edges when placing a futures bet.
I think Buffalo would win this game if it gets here, but with one more game, against Belichick no less, it's not as practical.
With its best player set to return and a first-round bye, I'm enamored by the value Tennessee offers.
Stay tuned throughout the week for more NFL playoffs betting coverage, including our favorite game picks and prop bets.