Underdog Teams That Can Win Each AFC Division in 2019
With preseason football ready to kick into full gear, we'll finally get a glimpse of all 32 NFL teams as they prepare for the 2019 season.
While many fans will have their eyes glued on some of the buzzy favorites to win each NFL division, there are several under-the-radar teams looking to make a statement this year and shock some prognosticators. With that said, here are four AFC underdogs that can win their respective divisions this season.
1. New York Jets (+650 to Win AFC East)
The path for the New York Jets to win the AFC East is pretty straightforward: take down the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. This will be easier said than done, of course, as the Pats have won the last 10 consecutive AFC East crowns and 16 of the last 18 overall. Still, with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins both projected for down seasons, the Jets arguably have the best shot to dethrone the Pats, and they've made several key offseason moves to fulfill this task. They've made some major additions to the offensive line recently, adding center Ryan Kalil and guard Alex Lewis, which should be music to the ears of Sam Darnold and Le'Veon Bell. On paper, the Jets have plenty of talent to win their first division title since 2002.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (+170 to Win AFC North)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team on a mission this season after missing the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion as their players watched the Baltimore Ravens clinch the AFC North in Week 17. Now, the Steelers are underdogs behind the Cleveland Browns, who are +135 to win the division, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. While Pittsburgh no longer has two of the three "Killer B's" (Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown), the Steelers still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Should the Browns buckle under all the hype this offseason, the Steelers should be there to pick up the pieces, as long as they can also hold off a very motivated Baltimore Ravens' team.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (+440 to Win AFC South)
It may have gone forgotten on some, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are just one full season removed from winning the AFC South with a 10-6 record and falling one game short of the Super Bowl. A lot can change in one year, however, as the Jags finished last season dead last in the division with a 5-11 record. Still, there is plenty of reason for optimism in 2019, as Jacksonville has finally parted ways with Blake Bortles in favor of former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. With a healthy Leonard Fournette, and a star-studded defense that could be in line for a bounce-back season, the Jags could be a solid sleeper in the AFC South, currently sitting behind the Indianapolis Colts (-105) and Houston Texans (+280) in the odds to win the division.
4. Denver Broncos (+1300 to Win AFC West)
Not a lot of people are interested in the Denver Broncos this season, as they plan to start Joe Flacco at quarterback. What many are missing, however, is a team that finished fifth in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) last season, according to Football Outsiders, and will now be entering a second year of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb wreaking havoc on opposing offenses together. Denver should also have a strong running game, with second-year backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in the backfield. If Flacco can do his best to manage the game on offense while allowing the defense and rushing game to run the show, the Broncos could have legitimate sleeper status, as both the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers have their own flaws to poke holes through.
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