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With the Denver Broncos’ defense powering them to a win over the Carolina Panthers at Super Bowl 50, the AFC has now produced the last two Super Bowl champions. Will those trends continue next season? Here’s a closer look at the favourites and sleepers in the AFC.


The Favourites

The New England Patriots (+300) are the AFC favourites. They have registered double-digit wins in 13 straight seasons while hitting the 12-win mark in nine of those years. As long as they can survive Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, they’re sure to be in the mix.

The Pittsburgh Steelers (+500) are next in line to win the AFC, but they’ll be dealing with some notable absences of their own. Star running back Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first three games for missing multiple drug tests. Martavis Bryant is suspended for the year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The good news is Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are still around, so the league’s fourth-highest scoring offense from a year ago (26.4 PPG) should still be explosive.

There are only three more teams inside of 10/1 to win the AFC: The Cincinnati Bengals (+700), the Indianapolis Colts (+750) and the Denver Broncos (+800). The defending Super Bowl champs are still figuring out their quarterback situation due to the retirement of Peyton Manning and the exit of Brock Osweiler, but their defense is intact, including Super Bowl MVP Von Miller.

Meanwhile, the Bengals are very talented on both sides of the ball, but they've lost in the Wild Card round in the last five seasons. Can Andy Dalton (who missed last season's loss to Pittsburgh due to injury) finally lead this team past the first round? If he doesn't, there are going to be some questions to answer in Cincinnati.


The Sleepers

Kansas City (+1000) is a sleeper, but they might have a better chance than the aforementioned Bengals. They still have a very good defense, running back Jamaal Charles should be back and healthy, and remember that they narrowly lost to the Patriots in the Divisional Round last season. Head coach Andy Reid has this team in the running every year.

Beset by injuries in 2015, the Baltimore Ravens struggled, winning just five games. But keep in mind they’ve made the playoffs in six of their last eight seasons. Joe Flacco is back from a torn ACL, and the team is still full of vets that no one wants to face late in the season.

Many experts have been talking up the Texans (+1800) as a team that’s worth a bet. They won the AFC South last season with the likes of Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Weeden throwing the ball. They signed Osweiler to a big contract and added young running back Lamar Miller, so they’re expecting big things from their backfield, which was a major weakness last season. We already know that their JJ Watt-led defense is stellar, so if the offense improves, they could surprise a lot of teams.


*Odds as of August 26, 2016