NFL Betting: AFC Conference Value Pick
The new NFL season might still be a few months away, but that just means more time for fans of NFL betting to get excited and prepared for the games ahead. Coming off the back of the 2021 season, which saw plenty of thrills and spills on the field, as well as some unexpected contenders coming alive in the playoffs back in January and February, the 2022 season looks to be just as exciting with many promising teams on either side of the league.
Over in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Chargers are all looking strong, both for the conference championship and for a shot at the Super Bowl, but they will all have plenty of work to do first.
We get back to business in August, kicking off four weeks of preseason matches before the regular season begins in early September. These first games are sure to spring upon you much quicker than you expect, so consider your options for football betting now, while there are still some juicy value picks to be found here at Bodog,
We’ve been spending quite some time analysing the prospects of teams just outside the top favourites to see who could be a sleeper going into 2022. And we think we’ve found something special.
Bodog’s Value Pick: The Cincinnati Bengals
Ahead of the new season, the Cincinnati Bengals have odds of +1000 to win the AFC conference, tied with the Cleveland Browns and just behind the Denver Broncos on +850. These aren’t terrible AFC conference odds, but a long way from the +350 currently offered on the Bills.
Odds of +1000 could prove a terrific opportunity to score some value, especially if the Bengals can build on what they achieved last year.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ 2021 Performance
The Cincinnati Bengals emerged out of nowhere last season, earning their first playoff appearance since 2015 and first conference championship since 1988.
Having earned a spot in the Super Bowl, the Bengals weren’t letting such an opportunity go without a fight. They powered into the third quarter with a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Rams, but sadly couldn’t maintain their momentum, losing steam in the final 15 minutes and allowing the Rams to pick up seven points to end 23-20 and claim their second Super Bowl.
Few expected the Bengals to get so close to the big game, but they proved they have their muster to go the distance, only falling shy of victory in the dying minutes of the season. It wasn’t just dumb luck, either – they were there on merit.
In the regular season, Cincinnati topped the AFC North with 10 wins to seven losses. Granted, this record would only earn them second place in any of the other AFC divisions, and without much hope in most of the NFC, but they did have the best intra-conference record in their own half of the league.
What’s more, in the playoffs, the Bengals beat the Raiders 26-19 in the wild-card round, the Titans 19-16 in the divisional round, and the Chiefs 27-24 in the AFC Championship game – these were no easy wins, showing Cincinnati can get the job done when the pressure is on.
Had the cards fallen differently during the big game, the Bengals could have walked away with the first Super Bowl win in the franchise’s history.
Cincinnati Bengals Key Performers
Much of the success enjoyed by the Cincinnati Bengals last season can be attributed to its star players; Joe Burrow, in particular, has been a standout since being the first overall pick in the NFL Draft two years ago.
Last season, Burrow was ranked the 12th-best quarterback in the league and had the sixth-highest number of passing yards in the entire NFL. He really stepped up in 2021, building on a solid rookie season in 2020 to play in 16 games over the regular season, during which he made 366 passes from only 520 attempts. Burrow continued a similar level of performance going into the playoffs, completing 97 from 142.
With 34 passing touchdowns to his name, he was the star player at Cincinnati and even made the overall league top ten.
Jammar Chase and Tee Higgins were also crucial to the Bengal’s success in the regular season, with 13 and 6 touchdowns respectively. As, too, was Joe Mixon, the Bengals’ running back. Offering 292 rushing attempts, he was third best in the entire league during the regular season, a performance followed by a further 67 during the playoffs.
Mixon also managed 1,205 rushing yards, another stat placing him in the top three in the whole of the NFL. His 13 touchdowns were also good enough for fourth best and were a career-best for the 25-year-old.
Why the Cincinnati Bengals Could Upset the Odds
It’s worth repeating how few people expected the Bengals to progress in 2021, yet they almost won the Super Bowl – the pinnacle of the sport. They clearly had a winning formula last season and have retained almost all of their key players during the off-season. Not only that, but the team has been on a signing spree, securing contracts with:
- Alex Cappa
- Ted Karras
- La’el Collins
- Trenton Irwin
- Zach Carter
- Cam Taylor-Britt
- Jeff Gunter
These are just to name a few, too. Of course, some deals are focused on the future, but others are aimed at beefing up the Bengals’ defence, which had been distinctly average during the regular season last year.
The AFC North is not the strongest division in the NFL at present. One of their teams hasn’t won the Super Bowl since 2012, and the Bengals were the first to win the AFC Championship in a decade. So, if they can maintain their current performance, Cincinnati looks strong for a spot in the playoffs again.
We know that if they get there, they can perform, so even if a Super Bowl win isn’t on the cards, another AFC Championship certainly could be.
Bet on the Cincinnati Bengals
Could the Cincinnati Bengals win the conference this season? While the NFL betting odds don’t have them as the favourite, that didn’t stop them last year. And at +1000, the Bengals are certainly leaving a lot of value to be snatched up on the table. If you like the look of this opportunity, be sure to get your slips in early at Bodog so you don’t miss out.