With the 2016 NFL playoffs set to start on Saturday, the AFC appears to be wide open. The No.1 seed in the conference isn’t favored to reach Super Bowl 50, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the No.6 seed faced the NFC representative in the biggest game of the year.
The regular season ended with a three-way tie between the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals, all of whom went 12-4. With wins over the other two teams, the Broncos were given the No.1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The tiebreaker scenario gave the Patriots the No.2 seed, and it’s New England that has the best odds to reach the 2016 Super Bowl.
New England has been given +200 betting odds to win the AFC. It would be the second straight trip to the Super Bowl for the Patriots, and the seventh in the Brady-Belichick era. New England has +475 odds to win Super Bowl 50, tying them with the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers.
Denver isn’t far behind New England with +210 odds. The Patriots would have been a much bigger favorite a few weeks ago, but they have played poorly down the stretch. New England has lost four of their last six games, including one to the Broncos. But Denver is just 5-4 after a 7-0 start, and the team doesn’t know if Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning will start at quarterback.
Neither Denver quarterback has been particularly good this year. Cincinnati has an unstable quarterback situation as well, giving them just +1000 odds to reach the Super Bowl as the No.3 seed. Andy Dalton finished the regular season with the NFL's second-best passer rating, but AJ McCarron might have to start at least one playoff game in his place because of a thumb injury.
The Bengals aren’t even favored to get past Wild-Card Weekend. They are underdogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have +450 odds to win the AFC. Pittsburgh has wins against Denver and Cincinnati, and they went 8-4 in games that Ben Roethlisberger started at quarterback.
At +650, the Kansas City Chiefs have the fourth-best odds to win the AFC, despite winning 10 games in a row. They are favored to beat the Houston Texans in the first round. Houston is considered to be the biggest Super Bowl longshot of any team in the postseason.
Below is a look at the betting odds each team has been given to win the AFC or the Super Bowl. All odds are courtesy of Bovada.lv.
New England Patriots +200 (+475)
Denver Broncos +210 (+625)
Pittsburgh Steelers +450 (+900)
Kansas City Chiefs +650 (+1400)
Cincinnati Bengals +1000 (+2500)
Houston Texans +2800 (+6600)