The New England Patriots have ruled the AFC for nearly two full decades. In the 17 seasons since Tom Brady took over as the Pats’ full-time starting quarterback in 2001, New England has won a whopping eight AFC championships. On top of that, Bill Belichick’s squad has played in a total of 12 AFC Championship Games. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that the Patriots are sitting alone atop the AFC odds heading into the 2018 NFL season.
New England came in at +260 (a $100 wager would collect $260), which is actually a higher number than they are accustomed to (Tom Brady is 41-years-old after all). And if you take a deep look at the situation, the Pats are actually looking more vulnerable than they have in years. That said, here is a look at the biggest threats to the Patriots in their quest for a ninth AFC title in 2018.
Statistics courtesy of Sportsbook.ag as of August 14, 2018.
Los Angeles Chargers (+900)
On paper, the Chargers easily look like one of the premier teams in the entire NFL. They have a franchise quarterback (Philip Rivers); a dynamic three-down running back (Melvin Gordon III); an elite wide receiver (Keenan Allen); one of the better offensive lines in the league; arguably the premier pass-rush duo in the game (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram); and a secondary that is well above-average despite the loss of Jason Verrett.
If they stay healthy (which is a big if), the Chargers have all of the makings of a Super Bowl contender.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+800)
The Jaguars came dangerously close to beating the Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship Game. With an added year of experience and a couple of nice offseason additions, Jacksonville looks like they will be even better in 2018. Don’t be surprised to see a re-match between the Pats and Jags in the 2018 AFC Championship Game.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+500)
The Steelers have been the biggest threat to the Patriots ever since Peyton Manning retired following Super Bowl 50. Pittsburgh may have the best offense in the league, but to beat New England they will need their defense to mature in a hurry.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.
Other notable teams to watch:
- Houston Texans (+1000)
- Kansas City Chiefs (+1500)
- Denver Broncos (+1800)
- Oakland Raiders (+1800)
- Indianapolis Colts (+2000)
- Baltimore Ravens (+2200)
- Tennessee Titans (+2500)
Follow Jimmie on Twitter: @jimmiekaylor.