Which Reigning Division Champions Are Vulnerable? Houston, For One

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Doug Upstone

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 4:20 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017 4:20 PM GMT

Among the futures bets you can make in the NFL is who is going to win each division. Easy right? New England always win the AFC East and all the good teams are right there competing every year.

On the surface the above statement makes sense, but here is the deal: It is not true. If look back at 10 years of division winners, only 41.2 percent actually repeat as champions (33 of 80). That means if you are making NFL picks, on average, the turnover annually is at least half the four divisions.

Backed with this knowledge, that when looking at the NFL odds at 5Dimes, Bookmaker or whatever sportsbook you use, you better know look for vulnerable teams, because they are likely to fail. We can also take this one step further. The Patriots have thoroughly dominated their division, as in the last decade the only time they did not win it was when Tom Brady blew out his knee in Week 1 of 2008. If you discount the Pats, that means the turnover in the other seven divisions rises to 65.2 percent.

 

What Divisions Could Have New Champs?

In the last 11 years, these are the teams that have not won a division crown.

Buffalo

New York Jets

Oakland

Cleveland

Jacksonville

Detroit

St. Louis/L.A. Rams

Technically, the Raiders were tied with Kansas City last year at 12-4 but did lose the tiebreaker and were the wild card team. This season, Oakland is actually the favorite to win the AFC West with very likely an even stronger offense thanks to additions. The Raiders still do have unanswered questions at linebacker and in the secondary; nevertheless, the Chiefs essentially stood pat, did nothing of note to improve themselves and could definitely be overtaken by Oakland.

Houston is the two-time defending champ in the AFC South, but had the same 9-7 record a year ago and might be ready to pass them by. In breaking down the two clubs, the Texans are the better defensive group and the Titans have more ways to score offensively. We hear all the time about quarterback play and its importance. With that in mind, would you rather have Marcus Mariota or Tom Savage?

Since the NFC South was formed in 2002, Carolina is the only team to repeat in that division (2013-15). Everyone is going to assume Atlanta is a lock since it went to the Super Bowl and honestly should have won it. Yet that is what everyone said about New Orleans after the Saints beat Indianapolis in February 2010, and they were a wild card the next season. The Falcons lost their offensive coordinator so the game plan and play-calling will be somewhat different and opponents had the whole offseason to study their tendencies. With Tampa Bay on the rise and Carolina expected to bounce back, picking the Dirty Birds comes with risks.

Seattle, Green Bay and Pittsburgh should be solid choices in their respective division, yet injuries could change everything.

The one other team that might be vulnerable is Dallas. Ezekiel Elliott continues to be distraction, the secondary is riddled with question marks and if Dak Prescott slides back a bit, he would not be the first player to have a sophomore slump. The New York Giants won 11 times last year, still have a strong defense and should be improved on offense. Stranger things have happened!

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