NFL Betting Trends: Five AFC Teams Most Affected By No Expanded Playoffs

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 6:39 PM GMT

The NFL has decided to stick with its current 12-team playoff format for the 2015 season instead of adding two wild cards. Here, in no particular order, are the five teams in the AFC that decision could hurt the most and their futures odds.

Buffalo Bills
Buffalo finished 9-7 last season, its first winning record since 2004, but the NFL's longest playoff drought continued. Despite that success, Coach Doug Marrone isn't back, but that was his own decision to leave as the team wasn't going to fire him. Marrone gambled on himself with an opt-out clause and lost because he didn't get another head-coaching job. Frankly, the Bills upgraded at coach with Rex Ryan. The Bills should have one of the NFL's top defenses again, with the main question at quarterback. Matt Cassel will battle E.J. Manuel for the starting job unless a mystery man emerges. Ryan will be running the ball all day with new addition LeSean McCoy. The Bills have playoff-caliber talent just about everywhere but at quarterback. You have to assume the Patriots will win the AFC East again so no expanded playoffs means one less wild-card option for the Bills.

Current AFC title odds: +2500.

 

Miami Dolphins
Miami finished 8-8 for the second straight season in 2014, also totally choking down the stretch for the second year in a row when the team's playoff fate was in its own hands. Yet Joe Philbin is still the team's head coach and in fact got an extension through 2016. That's a story for another day (and it will be). The Fins are in the same boat as Buffalo as they are pretty much blocked from winning the AFC East because the Patriots aren't going anywhere as long as Tom Brady is healthy. Thus it's wild card or bust. Miami does appear to be one of the big winners of free agency in signing former Lion Ndamukong Suh, the best defensive tackle in the NFL. The Dolphins also stole away tight end Cameron Jordan from Cleveland and perhaps had addition by subtraction in dumping receiver Mike Wallace.

Current AFC title odds: +1800.

 

Cincinnati Bengals
I am listing the Bengals on this list because I'm projecting Pittsburgh to repeat as the AFC North champion. Cincinnati finished 10-5-1 last year and earned the top AFC wild-card spot, the franchise's record fourth straight season in the playoffs. And for the fourth year in a row, the Bengals flopped in the wild-card game, this time a 16-point loss at Indianapolis. Yet Coach Marvin Lewis kept his job. Maybe the Bengals should replace him in the postseason only. The Bengals focused on defense in free agency, adding linebacker A.J. Hawk from Green Bay and defensive end Michael Johnson, the former Bengal, from Tampa Bay. It's still all on Andy Dalton when you make your NFL picks.

Current AFC title odds: +1800.

 

Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore is in the same boat as Cincinnati in that I expect the Steelers to win the AFC North and thus the wild-card route is the only way to the playoffs for the Ravens. That's what they were last year, finishing 10-6 in the regular season before upsetting the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the wild-card round and nearly shocking the Patriots in New England in the divisional round. No AFC North team lost more talent this offseason, with defensive tackle  Haloti Ngata traded to Detroit, linebacker/end Pernell McPhee signing with Chicago, receiver Torrey Smith heading to San Francisco and tight end Owen Daniels signing with Denver. Of course the Ravens always lose free agents yet continue to post winning regular seasons, which helps their NFL odds.

Current AFC title odds: +1500.

 

Kansas City Chiefs
I'm putting Kansas City on this list over San Diego among AFC West teams, assuming Denver wins the division again and thus leaves only a wild-card spot for a route to the playoffs. I didn't include any AFC South teams because the Colts will win that division and I don't think Houston is ready to compete for a wild-card spot quite yet. While the Chargers lost their top running back in Ryan Mathews, the Chiefs were able to keep NFL sack leader Justin Houston in town with the franchise tag, and they upgraded massively at receiver by cutting Dwayne Bowe and signing former Philadelphia Eagle Jeremy Maclin. Kansas City might actually have a receiver catch a TD pass this season!

Current AFC title odds: +1800.