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NFL futures: AFC champion

In the beginning of the season, Vegas had three teams that were supposedly the top teams in the National Football League’s AFC. The New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos were the three favorites to reach Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., likely to face either the Green Bay Packers or Seattle Seahawks.

As it turns out, Vegas was pretty close to being correct. New England is seen as the favorite following 12 weeks of action to be in the Super Bowl for a second straight season, looking at +125 odds to get there, according to BOVADA. Meanwhile, Denver is sitting with the second-best line at +325, despite the upheaval at quarterback with Brock Osweiler playing the hurt/benched Peyton Manning.

The big swing-and-miss to this point has been the Colts. Most believed that Indianapolis was ready to take the next step with quarterback Andrew Luck after the team fell in the AFC Championship game last year. Yet, the Colts are only 6-5 and just 2-5 with Luck under center. With Luck out for at least the next few weeks with a kidney issue, Matt Hasselbeck is running the operation.

With all that has gone wrong for the lackluster Colts, Vegas is only giving them the sixth-best odds in the conference at +1600. Indianapolis is currently the fourth seed in the AFC but is barely hanging onto a playoff spot as it is tied with the Houston Texans atop the AFC South. In addition, the Colts have to play at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football and still have a rematch with the Texans down the line.

One team that has risen up the betting boards are the Kansas City Chiefs. Absolutely left for dead after six games with a miserable 1-5 record, the Chiefs have reeled off five consecutive wins and have the best defense in the league over that stretch. Kansas City also has the easiest schedule remaining in the NFL, facing the Oakland Raiders twice, along with the San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

All told, the Chiefs are in the books at +1200, sitting behind the Patriots, Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is getting plenty of love considering it is not in the playoff picture at the moment. However, it is understandable to give it a good line, with Ben Roethslisberger at the helm and a Super Bowl-winning head coach in Mike Tomlin roaming the sidelines.

The worst odds in the AFC belong to the San Diego Chargers, who are +40000. Most would not have guessed that San Diego would be with only three wins through the first 12 weeks of the campaign, but a healthy Philip Rivers has not been enough to stabilize this brutal team. The Cleveland Browns are no longer on the board, devastatingly bad at 2-9 and on their third starting quarterback of the season.

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