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Predictions for Each AFC Division and the Championship Game in the 2020 NFL

NFL AFC Championship Logo, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots Logos

Now that I’ve analyzed the Super Bowl LV winner odds, it’s time to take a closer look at the American Football Conference. Tom Brady is no longer a Patriot, so the battle for the AFC Championship will be quite different in 2020.

First, I’ll show you the latest AFC Championship winner odds. Then, I’ll get through each division and show you my projections along with the division winner odds on each team. It’s not strange that the reigning champs Kansas City Chiefs lead the way, but some other teams are ready to make a strong case in 2020.

AFC Championship Winner Odds

  • Kansas City Chiefs +300
  • Baltimore Ravens +300
  • New England Patriots +900
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +900
  • Buffalo Bills +1000
  • Indianapolis Colts +1200
  • Tennessee Titans +1400
  • Cleveland Browns +1400
  • LA Chargers +1600
  • Las Vegas Raiders +2200
  • Houston Texans +2200
  • Denver Broncos +2500
  • Miami Dolphins +3500
  • New York Jets +3500
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +4500
  • Cincinnati Bengals +5000

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills (+137)
  • New England Patriots (+120)
  • New York Jets (+700)
  • Miami Dolphins (+800)

The New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East for 17 long years. They’ve won 16 division titles in that span, and only the Miami Dolphins have interrupted their streak in 2008. I think the Pats’ dynasty is coming to an end with Tom Brady’s departure, but the bookies still fancy their chances in 2020.

The Buffalo Bills are my fave for a few reasons. Their defense has been outstanding over the last couple of seasons, and there’s no reason for that to be different in 2020. Second, their offense has improved a lot in 2019 and should continue to grow.

Josh Allen tossed for 3089 yards, 20 touchdowns, and nine picks last year, showing some glimpses of quality. Stefon Diggs has arrived from Minnesota and will be the No. 1 WR for the Bills, whose ground game should be a great strength. Finally, head coach Sean McDermott led this team to a couple of playoff appearances in three years.

The Patriots are still a mystery. It’s unknown who will be Tom Brady’s successor. While their defense should be great once again, the Pats certainly need a few skill players to make their offense competitive. Some predict a tough season for the Pats, but I expect Bill Belichick to make this team a strong playoff contender.

The Jets are coming off a 7-9 season full of disappointing injuries. Sam Darnold is still an unreliable option under center, while the Jets’ offensive line was horrible this past season. Without a well-coordinated O-line, Le’Veon Bell is useless, so I expect the Jets to have another mediocre season.

Finally, the Miami Dolphins could make some noise if rookie Tua Tagovailoa finds the right connection with his receivers and their defense does a much better job than it did in 2019. Miami went 5-11 last season, and I’m looking for a similar record in 2020.

AFC North

  • Baltimore Ravens (-200)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (+310)
  • Cleveland Browns (+500)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (+2500)

Let’s get this straight — Baltimore will retain the AFC North. Easily. Of course, all other teams will be ready for the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson, but getting ready is one thing, and stopping Lamar is something completely different.

The Pittsburgh Steelers possess an excellent defensive unit and will bravely battle the Ravens. However, their offense is too weak to compete with Baltimore for 16 weeks, even with Ben Roethlisberger back under center.

Lamar Jackson was completely ridiculous last year. He set the NFL record for the most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback (1206) while tossing for 3127 yards, 36 touchdowns, and six interceptions. Las Vegas sportsbooks set the line for Lamar at 999.5 rushing yards this time, and I can’t wait to watch him hit the over.

I’m not a Ravens fan, but Lamar Jackson is a joy to watch. If he stays healthy and the rest of the squad avoids serious injuries, the Ravens will top the AFC North and win at least 11 games next season. Their ground game is too good, and the defense is just good enough.

The Cleveland Browns are a mystery team in this division. I think Baker Mayfield can only do better than last year, but I’m not sure that would be enough for the AFC North title. Still, it could be enough for 10 wins and the playoff berth.

The Browns possess some serious talent, especially on the offensive end. Nick Chubb ran for 1494 yards last season, but Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. couldn’t find the rhythm as Mayfield was a disaster most of the time.

The chemistry was the Browns’ biggest issue last year, and Kevin Stefanski will have a tall task in his first season in Cleveland following his first full season as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.

I put the Steelers above the Browns, but I’m not sure about that at all. The Steelers’ defense is undoubtedly much better than the Browns’. On the other hand, Cleveland’s offense could be lethal. I expect to see a great battle for the wild card between these two foes.

The Cincinnati Bengals will finish bottom of the NFC North, but they will be fun to watch. Joe Burrow is coming off a tremendous season at LSU, and the No. 1 pick should be excited about his future teammates.

A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, and Auden Tate are all great WRs, but the Bengals’ offensive line will be an issue. Also, Cincinnati’s defense was a joke last year and could be again this season.

AFC South

  • Tennessee Titans (+175)
  • Indianapolis Colts (+160)
  • Houston Texans (+260)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+1000)

The AFC South provided some thrilling battles over the last few years, and I expect to see more of the same in 2020. Last year, the Texans went 10-6 to win back-to-back and had one win more than the Titans, while they had one win more than the Colts back in 2018.

In 2017, the Jaguars won the AFC South one win ahead of the Titans, while the Texans and Titans went 9-7 in 2016 with Houston winning the title. So, what can we expect in 2020?

The Jags will finish bottom of the table. Their defense is not an elite one anymore, and the Jags were surrendering 24.8 points on 375.4 total yards per game. Gardner Minshew had a solid rookie season, tossing for 3271 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six picks, but Leonard Fournette’s poor form makes the Jags’ offense pretty one-dimensional.

The Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for RB David Johnson, the second-rounder, and the fourth-rounder. It was another vague move by the Texans, who still have a solid receiving corps, while they expect Deshaun Watson to build on his excellent 2019 season.

The Colts have a new QB, and I’m not sure if Philip Rivers is the right choice. At least, the Colts’ offensive line is one of the best in the NFL, so Rivers should have a bounce-back season after a nightmare 2019. I fancy the Titans’ chances to win the AFC South, but only if they stay healthy, especially Derrick Henry, who led the NFL with 1540 rushing yards.

All in all, I suggest you stay away from the AFC South.

AFC West

  • Kansas City Chiefs (-450)
  • Las Vegas Raiders (+1000)
  • Denver Broncos (+1000)
  • LA Chargers (+800)

The Kansas City Chiefs shouldn’t have any problem retaining the AFC West. I will put my money on Andy Reid’s team first thing in the morning. Of course, you never know who will get injured, and Patrick Mahomes dodged the bullet in 2019.

If Mahomes stays healthy, the Chiefs are runaway favorites even if some of their other star players struggle with injuries. The rest of the AFC West should struggle to join the playoff race.

I like this Raiders team. They are young and desirous, while Las Vegas could be the special motive for Jon Gruden’s boys. The Raiders went 7-9 last season after losing five of their last six games, and I think they could make a big step forward in 2020.

Josh Jacobs ran for 1150 yards and seven touchdowns last season and should be even better in his second season. The Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs III, who could take the league by storm, and the former Alabama WR seems like a perfect reinforcement.

However, consistency will be the Raiders’ biggest issue along with their defense. It’s a similar story with the Broncos, who moved on from Joe Flacco and will start Drew Lock next season. They drafted a WR in the first round, too, as Jerry Jeudy is a new Bronco.

Denver signed Melvin Gordon, who’ll be a significant improvement in the backfield, but the Broncos’ offensive line will be a key factor if they want to push for honors in 2020.

The Broncos went 7-9 last season, and I don’t expect them to improve a lot this term. Still, winning nine games could be enough for the playoffs in AFC, so the battle in the west division will be a fierce one. Finally, we cannot write off the LA Chargers, who possess a solid defensive unit and a few good offensive playmakers.

The Chargers drafted Justin Herbert with the sixth pick, so I expect him in the starting lineup in Week 1. Herbert spent four years at Oregon and threw for 3471 yards and 32 touchdowns in his final year. The Chargers’ defense will be a key factor, but Anthony Lynn and Ken Whisenhunt will need some time to gel things on the offensive end.

The Broncos and Chargers both disappointed in 2019, while the Raiders played above expectations. It’s tough to say who will finish second behind the Chiefs this term, but I’m backing the young lions from Vegas to have another solid season.

Who Will Win the AFC Championship Game?

I expect to see the Chiefs against the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. Simply, those two teams are terrific offensively and possess tremendous quarterbacks. However, don’t sleep on the Buffalo Bills, whose defense is a game-changer.

Still, from this point of view, I have to take the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs had a lot of problems defending against strong running teams last year, which is the main reason why I’m picking Lamar Jackson and Baltimore over Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.