MetroBet profiles three of the AFC’s top contenders and determines whether to bet or fade them in the Super Bowl futures market.
Los Angeles Chargers (9-3)
Week 1 odds: 15-1
Current odds: 12-1
Philip Rivers engineering a 16-point comeback against the Steelers under the lights at Heinz Field (without Melvin Gordon) stamped L.A. as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
The Chargers don’t “wow” in any one particular area, but they must be respected because they can beat opponents in a multitude of ways. The return of Joey Bosa makes L.A.’s eighth-ranked defense significantly better in terms of stopping the run and bringing down the quarterback. Rivers is having one his best statistical seasons to date and has made his offense one of the most dangerous in the game (fifth by yards per game).
L.A. is just one game behind Kansas City and control their own destiny in that regard, as they’ll play them on Dec. 13.
The verdict: Bet.
Houston Texans (9-3)
Week 1 odds: 12-1
Current odds: 25-1
Houston has cobbled together one of the least-inspiring nine-game winning streaks in recent memory, beating only two teams with a winning record (Dallas and Washington) by a grand total of five points. Deshaun Watson and company are starting to put more distance between themselves and their opponents, beating Tennessee and Cleveland by multiple scores in consecutive weeks, but oddsmakers are dangling the Texans at 25-1 for a reason.
They are essentially a poor man’s version of the Chargers. J.J. Watt and company can keep their team in almost every game, while the Texans’ 12th-ranked offense hits-and-misses depending on matchups. Houston’s remaining schedule is soft (Colts, Jets, Eagles and Jaguars), but there are no soft matchups in the postseason.
The verdict: Fade.
Kansas City Chiefs (10-2)
Week 1 odds: 20-1
Current odds: 9-2
The Chiefs, and particularly MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes, have been one of the NFL’s most captivating stories. But when running back Kareem Hunt was dismissed after video surfaced of him knocking down and kicking a woman, their odds quickly rose from 7-2 to 9-2.
Kansas City didn’t look particularly sharp when they beat the Raiders on Sunday, and their defense (417 yards per game allowed, second-worst in the league) has been a liability all season long. The Chiefs can’t be trusted to stop any competent offense, and their lousy playoff history as a franchise (one win in their last 11 games) makes them an uninspiring wager.
Their remaining schedule is treacherous, as the Ravens and Chargers will visit Arrowhead in consecutive weeks before the Chiefs head to Seattle. They may not be able to rest their starters in Week 17 against the Raiders, and they may even have to play in the first round if they’re not careful, as New England and Houston have much easier paths to January.
The verdict: Fade.