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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Baltimore Ravens should keep Cincinnati and Cleveland in check

Indianapolis Colts look doomed in AFC South

Odell Beckham runs in a touchdown against Baltimore
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The reason New England are favourites for the Super Bowl is probably not because they are the best team.

The Patriots looked jaded in last year's showdown against Philadelphia and the end of quarterback Tom Brady's incredible career cannot be far away.

However, they are fancied because of their absolute dominance of the AFC East, which they have topped for 14 of the last 15 years.

It seems pretty inconceivable that they will not be able to do so again at a hefty odds-on price as it is difficult to have much faith in Buffalo, Miami or the New York Jets.

Two of those teams will field inexperienced quarterbacks while the Dolphins welcome back Ryan Tannehill after a long injury layoff, so the division is best left alone for betting purposes.

There are bets to be had elsewhere in the AFC, though. Pittsburgh look worthy favourites in the North and it is worth supporting Baltimore to again become their strongest challengers.

If under-pressure quarterback Joe Flacco can link up well with a new set of talented wide receivers, they have the defensive quality to keep Cincinnati and Cleveland in check.

The Browns should improve significantly on last year's winless season but it may be too early to see them lay down a big challenge to the Steelers over the course of a whole season.

The AFC South looks to be one of the toughest divisions in the game and it is questionable whether Indianapolis will be able to last the course even if quarterback Andrew Luck bounces back from injury.

Luck did not throw a ball last season due to a shoulder problem and his presence would be a huge lift for the Colts.

However, the team were well down the rankings on both sides of the ball last season and there looks to be much more scope for improvement from Houston, who also finished 4-12 last season. The Texans should be a lot stronger with quarterback Deshaun Watson and star defensive end JJ Watt back in the frame.

The Los Angeles Chargers lost their opening four games last season but still finished with a winning record and there could be more to come.

With an excellent passing game directed by veteran QB Philip Rivers and a strong defence, they can hold their AFC West rivals at bay as Oakland adjust to life under new coach Jon Gruden, who is back on the sidelines after ten years out of the game as a TV summariser.

There is a lot of excitement in Kansas City about the potential of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and he should produce some spectacular plays, but he could have a difficult season against some of the league's best pass defences.

Recommendations
Baltimore to finish second in AFC North
2pts 19-10 Betway
Indianapolis to finish fourth in AFC South
2pts Evs Coral, Ladbrokes
LA Chargers to win AFC West
2pts 13-8 BoyleSports


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The Texans should be a lot stronger with quarterback Deshaun Watson and star defensive end JJ Watt back in the frame
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