NFL 2023: Predicting the Winners of Each Division in the AFC
Has it really been half of the NFL season already? Feels like just a blink of an eye since the mighty Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning champs, kicked off the 2023 season with a bang, facing off and losing to the Detroit Lions at the Arrowhead Stadium back in September.
As we gear up for week ten of the campaign, the goalpost is getting closer to the season's midpoint. It's about time we take a breather and evaluate which team is on the fast track to divisional glory. Let's size up the competition and see who's making the most strides towards greatness.
AFC East - Buffalo Bills
We're all aware and trust us, we know it. Josh Allen and his Buffalo Bills have been quite disappointing this season. They've managed to lose four games already and get this, that's the same number of losses they had throughout the entire previous season. And to add insult to injury, two of those losses came from the supposedly weak New York Jets and New England Patriots.
Whether you're willing to accept it or not, the Highmark Stadium outfit seems to have the Miami Dolphins' number. They're the direct competition in the AFC East and even though the Floridians are currently leading the standings, the Bills have already given them a sound thrashing this season, winning by a score of 48-20.
On the last day of the season, the duo will reunite for an epic battle. Our bet? Allen and his crew will storm Hard Rock Stadium and snatch the victory. NFL bets currently make them the +225 outsiders for the AFC East this season - with the Dolphins being the -210 favorites - which provides plenty of value to punters should you fancy their chances like us.
AFC West - Kansas City Chiefs
Are there even any other teams brave enough to challenge the almighty Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West? This division is like a featherweight in the league, and Patrick Mahomes' crew is on a whole different level compared to the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Denver Broncos. All three of these sides will be overjoyed if they finish the year with a victorious record, never mind a divisional triumph.
The Chiefs are on a quest for greatness and are aiming much higher than just topping the AFC West. Though they stumbled in a surprising loss to the Detroit Lions on opening day, they quickly recovered. Mahomes - whose magical touch has already seen him rack up a PPR of 7.3 - has led his team to six straight wins, reasserting themselves as true Lombardi contenders.
We admit that thus far, they haven't gone up against any of the top teams in the league, but brace yourselves because, in the second half of the season, they'll be facing some real heavyweights like the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, and their old nemesis, the Cincinnati Bengals.
After making it to the AFC Championship game for five consecutive seasons, with three of those turning into Super Bowl appearances – and winning two of them – it's safe to say that the Chiefs are a force to be reckoned with. You can bet your bottom dollar that they'll be in the mix again next February.
AFC North - Baltimore Ravens
The AFC West might not be the most fearsome division in the NFL, but hey, the AFC North sure is a force to be reckoned with. All four teams have made quite the impression this season. The Baltimore Ravens are leading the pack with seven wins and two losses. Right on their heels, we've got the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, just two wins behind and ready to strike.
When it comes to the always competitive division, it's quite a sight to see the Bengals languishing at the bottom of the standings. It's a head-scratcher considering they made it to the Conference Championship game in both of the past two seasons. But they too are hitting form and a victory on the road against the Bills has catapulted them back into contention.
At the start of the season, it would have been Joe Burrow and Co. that we tipped to win the division for the third consecutive season. With the 2019 Heisman winner at quarterback as well as Ja'Marr Chase - who has and Tee Higgins out wide, they have one of the strongest rosters in the entire league. Many expected them to mount yet another charge at a maiden Lombardi this season however, a stumbling start has left them with work to do.
While we expect Cincy to challenge once more, it will be the Baltimore Ravens that top the division. Their impressive start to the season may have pushed them ahead just enough for them to secure divisional honors.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson is on fire, showing that MVP-winning form from 2019. He's already rushed for a whopping 440 yards, leaving some of the league's top running backs in the dust. And when it comes to throwing, he's not holding back either, with 1,954 yards under his belt.
AFC South - Jacksonville Jaguars
Before the season kicked off, the Houston Texans were major underdogs in the race for Super Bowl glory this year. But the arrival of the new franchise quarterback, C.J. Stroud, has been an absolute game-changer. He's been throwing bombs left and right, racking up a mighty 2,270 yards. His recent mind-blowing performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the best ever by a rookie, racking up 470 yards and five touchdowns. As such, the Texans have managed to secure a 4-4 record so far with impressive wins over the Jaguars, Steelers, and New Orleans Saints certainly turning heads.
But it's the Jaguars who are clearly ahead in their development. Despite the shocking 37-17 loss at home to their AFC South rivals, Trevor Lawrence leads a well-oiled machine. His team gave the Chiefs a run for their money in the playoffs last season, and with a solid 5-2 record this year, we anticipate another deep postseason run.