The New England Patriots were virtually unstoppable last year, rolling to a Super Bowl victory with a 17-2 straight up and 16-3 against the spread record on the season. The Patriots are favored to win the AFC again this year and make their fourth trip to the Super Bowl in the last seven years.
New England is a +190 favorite to win the AFC at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. It's a steep price to pay, but an understandable one given the current makeup of the team.
The Patriots added an elite cornerback in Stephon Gilmore, who alongside Malcolm Butler will make up one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. And on offense, New England traded for speedy wideout Brandin Cooks and will get tight end Rob Gronkowski back from injury. This team is built to repeat.
The rest of the AFC won't go down without a fight, however. The Pittsburgh Steelers (+700 to win the AFC) and Oakland Raiders (+700) figure to be New England's biggest obstacles, while the Denver Broncos (+900) and Houston Texans (+900) could also get into the mix.
Pittsburgh surged into the conference final against New England last season on a 9-0 SU and 7-1-1 ATS run. But for the second straight year, the Steelers fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion. Whether Pittsburgh can bridge the gap this season remains to be seen, but this is one of the best teams in the NFL with an elite offense capable of shooting out with anyone.
Oakland, a contender at +1200 on the odds to win Super Bowl 52, also has the look of a team that can shoot out with anyone as long as quarterback Derek Carr is healthy. Before Carr's season-ending injury, the Raiders were 12-3 SU and 10-5 ATS and looked poised to be a legitimate threat to New England. The addition of Marshawn Lynch gives a physical element to the run game that makes Oakland even more dangerous.
Houston and Denver had the two top defenses in the AFC last season and both units figure to be dominant again in 2017. With more consistent production on offense, either of these teams could be a threat.
AFC Conference Champion Odds (see the complete list at OddsShark)
New England Patriots +190
Pittsburgh Steelers +700
Oakland Raiders +700
Denver Broncos +900
Houston Texans +900
Kansas City Chiefs +1200
Indianapolis Colts +1400
Baltimore Ravens +2000
Tennessee Titans +2000