- Sporting a perfect 11-0 SU record, the Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged s -200 favorites to win the top seed in the AFC
- With a favorable December schedule awaiting them, the Kansas City Chiefs closely trail Pittsburgh as attractive +140 second favorites
- Read on for all the odds and trends as the NFL season enters its final month
The Pittsburgh Steelers continued their march towards a perfect season with Wednesday’s narrow 19-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Now sporting an unblemished 11-0 SU record, the Steelers have emerged as strong -200 favorites in the NFL futures to claim the top seed in the AFC. But can they stay a step ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs, who ride a six-game SU win streak into December as a +140 bet to finish atop the conference standings for the second time in three years?
We’ve got you covered with a breakdown of what lies ahead of these two AFC powerhouses.
Odds to be No. 1 Seed in the AFC
|Kansas City Chiefs||+140|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+20000|
*Odds taken at DraftKings December 5, 2020
Big Ben, Steel Curtain Powering Pittsburgh’s Resurgence
Buoyed by the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who missed most of last season due to injury, Pittsburgh has exceeded expectations this season. In addition to having “Big Ben” back under center, the Steelers have exploited a favorable schedule during their fastest start in franchise history. Nine of the squad’s first 11 outings have come against opponents currently outside the playoff picture, including seven opponents that have posted four or fewer SU wins.
The Steelers are a perfect 11-0!
Will they finish the regular season 16-0? ?
> vs. Washington Football Team
> @ Bills
> @ Bengals
> vs. Colts
> @ Browns pic.twitter.com/QcZCLhxGMd
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 3, 2020
Now sporting a comfortable three-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the AFC North standings, the Steelers are positioned to clinch their first division title since 2017, possibly as early as next weekend. However, with four of their final five opponents currently in thick of the playoff hunt, and with a playoff spot all but assured, the Steelers face a massive challenge to maintain momentum.
Tough December Schedule Awaits Steelers
Pittsburgh cannot afford to look past Washington, whom they face on just four days rest on Monday afternoon. Washington looks to have turned the corner during a 3-2 SU that has lifted them into contention in the NFC East. The Football Team have limited opponents to an average of just 9.3 points over their three recent wins, while their three most recent losses have come by combined margin of just seven points.
The @WashingtonNFL defense has been on a mission! ?
?: #WASvsPIT — Monday 5pm ET on FOX
?: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app pic.twitter.com/nTg46AYZMJ
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2020
The Steelers must also overcome stingy defenses in upcoming road dates with Buffalo and the Browns, as well as a home clash with the resurgent Indianapolis Colts. And while they have historically dominated in meetings with each of those teams, running the table against these AFC rivals is a big ask. Indeed, a loss in any of those games puts the Steelers at risk of losing the edge over Kansas City in a conference record tiebreaker.
Chiefs Poised to Feast on December Opponents
Sports bettors have been frustrated by the Chiefs’ current three-game losing streak against the spread, including slim victories over Carolina and Las Vegas while pegged as big favorites. However, with the toughest part of their schedule largely behind them, the Chiefs remain securely perched as favorites in the AFC conference championship odds, sporting short +129 average odds.
2020 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ENTIRE SCHEDULE ? #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/VYSFeulv28
— CHIEFS HIGHLIGHTS (@ChiefsHighlight) May 7, 2020
SU winners in 19 of 20 overall contests, Kansas City should benefit from matchups with AFC opponents well out of contention in three of their final five outings, including Denver, Atlanta, and the Los Angeles Chargers. Of the Chiefs’ other two remaining dates, it is the team’s’ Week 15 visit to New Orleans that is likely most crucial to their bid to claim the AFC’s top seed.
Winners of eight straight, the Saints have rocketed to the top of the NFC standings despite the absence of injured passer Drew Brees. However, like Pittsburgh, the Saints have also been blessed by favorable scheduling. The only team with a winning record among those the Saints have vanquished on their current 8-0 SU run is Tampa Bay.
Scheduling, Potential Tiebreakers Bolster Chiefs’ Betting Value
Both the Chiefs and Steelers are well positioned to enjoy a strong finish to the season. But with Pittsburgh facing a tougher schedule featuring matchups with playoff-bound AFC opponents, the Chiefs are well positioned to close the gap in the standings. More importantly, any slip by Pittsburgh likely to give Kansas City the upper hand in a tiebreaker based on conference record, boosting the Chiefs’ already substantial value they offer as a +140 to claim top seeding in the AFC.
The Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (+140)