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Odds to Win the AFC: Are the Titans Worth a Look After Dominant Week 17 Win?

Following a dominant win and a favorable result elsewhere, the Tennessee Titans are poised to nab a first-round bye in the AFC Playoffs.
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Odds to Win the AFC: Are the Titans Worth a Look After Dominant Week 17 Win?

Coming into Week 17, it appeared as though the path to the Super Bowl in the AFC would once again run through Kansas City. After locking up their sixth straight AFC West Division title last week, the Chiefs entered Sunday with a one-game lead over the Tennessee Titans for the top spot in the conference standings. Given that Kansas City had won eight straight, they were clear NFL betting favorites in the odds to both land the No. 1 seed and win the AFC Championship.

In the span of three hours on Sunday afternoon, the top of the AFC standings changed drastically. The Titans demolished the previously streaking Miami Dolphins by a final margin of 34-3. D’Onta Foreman did his best Derrick Henry impersonation by rumbling for 132 yards and a score on 26 carries. Ryan Tannehill and the passing attack were held in check, but the former Dolphin struck for a pair of TD passes against his former team. The Titans have now won three of four following a brief two-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs coughed up a two-touchdown lead and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite a strong game from Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City simply had no answer for Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase defensively. Combine the Chiefs’ loss with the Titans’ win and it is now Mike Vrabel’s team who controls its own destiny with regards to clinching the No. 1 seed in the AFC. 

Tennessee Titans11-5
Kansas City Chiefs11-5
Cincinnati Bengals10-6
Buffalo Bills10-6
New England Patriots10-6

As seen in the table above, the Titans and Chiefs both emerge from Week 17 play with identical 11-5 records. However, Tennessee owns the tiebreaker thanks to a 27-3 head-to-head victory back in Week 7.

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Breaking Down Why the Titans are Legitimate Contenders in the AFC

While many NFL betting analysts have been fading the Titans for the better part of the season, they continue to be proven wrong. The major area of improvement for Tennesee this season has been on defense. Despite still being vulnerable in the secondary, a retooled pass rush has paid tremendous dividends to the Titans’ ability to contain opposing aerial attacks. 

After being waived by the Houston Texans, linebacker Zach Cunningham was signed by the Titans to further bolster the defense. He is already making an impact as he tied for the team lead in tackles on Sunday. Harold Landry and Denico Autry each recorded another sack as the Titans smothered Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense all afternoon.

In addition to the defense, rumors suggest that Tennessee is set to get a huge boost offensively in time for the postseason. The aforementioned Derrick Henry has a chance to return from a foot injury as early as next week. While it remains to be seen how healthy he is, simply getting their offensive centerpiece back for the playoffs figures to provide a massive morale boost in the Titans’ locker room. Hardly anyone is talking about Henry’s impending return to action, but it is certainly something to consider when handicapping the current odds to win the AFC.

TeamOdds to Win AFC
Kansas City Chiefs+175
Buffalo Bills+350
Indianapolis Colts+650
New England Patriots+700
Tennessee Titans+850
Cincinnati Bengals+1400

The Titans have a very winnable matchup against the Houston Texans in their regular-season finale. Thus, the No. 1 seed in the AFC is Tennessee’s for the taking. In addition to ensuring home field throughout the playoffs, the Titans would earn a bye through to the Divisional Round. An extra week for Henry to get healthy cannot be understated. Of course, all of the other players would certainly benefit from a bye as well.

With all of that being said, it will be fascinating to see how the NFL betting odds to win the AFC and secure the No. 1 seed move in the coming week. Bettors should expect to see the Titans reopen as odds-on favorites with respect to the No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, the Chiefs would likely remain the conference favorites. 

Considering that Tennessee was only the fifth choice to win the AFC prior to Week 17, they could potentially offer tremendous value in the conference futures market. With their best player returning, one of the top coaching staffs in the NFL and an underrated defense, the Titans are capable of playing with anyone in the postseason.


Henry has had a passion for sports that few can match for as long as he can remember. What started out as a five-year-old taking interest in the New York Jets and their green jerseys has since become a full-fledged career as a writer and sports betting analyst. His coverage primarily includes the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, college football, and college basketball. In 2020, he ranked among the top-10 most accurate experts ATS in the BettingPros NFL season contest. You can follow Henry’s sports work on Twitter and other social media platforms @HankTimeSports.


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