Cleveland Browns lead the surprise picks for the NFL playoffs
While the likes of the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers remain heavy favourites for a post-season run at the Superbowl, there’s value to be had in backing some of the NFL’s outsiders to reach the playoffs this term.
And with the new campaign just weeks away, now could be the time to have a punt at one of the unsung or often ignored teams in America’s most popular sport.
With each selection offering odds of at least 3/1, backing any one of the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Brown, Miami Dolphins or the Buffalo Bills to reach the playoffs could see you counting the cash.
Let’s have a look at the team-by-team details
Despite a 2-14 record last season the Chiefs head into the new campaign in rude health. With a roster boasting six Pro Bowlers, much will depend on the form of new arrival Alex Smith.
The former 49ers man may have been deemed surplus to requirements at San Francisco but new Chiefs coach Andy Reid has a proven track record for getting the best out of his quarterbacks and will look to work his magic again here.
With plenty of offensive options and an improved defense the Chiefs could give Denver a run for their money in the division and at the very least look good for a Wild Card spot.
It’s been five years since the Dolphins made it to the postseason but there’s a growing sense of optimism around the Sun Life Stadium ahead of the new campaign.
Much of the positive feeling stems from the continued improvement of second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Joe Philbin has worked hard to build a more solid offense and defense around the talented Tannehill and ahead of the start of the season the omens look good with the 25-year-old impressing during a 27-3 thumping of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
If this kind of form continues into the season, the Dolphins could be AFC East contenders.
The first of two outsiders on this list, the Browns merit their place as postseason contenders thanks to a series of changes that have swept though the team.
First and foremost was the dismissal of Pat Shurmur who has been replaced by new coach Rob Chudzinski.
He brings a wealth of experience in developing team offense – something lacking for the Browns last term – and has further reinforced the coaching ranks with the arrival of Norv Turner as offensive-coordinator and Ray Horton as defensive-coordinator.
Their influence was plain to see in pre-season, with second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden putting in a much-improved display during the Browns’ 27-19 victory over the St Louis Rams.
The real outsiders of the NFL, Buffalo haven’t made it to the postseason since 1999 but that could all change this year with the arrival of a new potential franchise quarterback in the form of EJ Manuel.
The 2013 Senior Bowl MVP is a big, strong and unpredictable force and could be just the kind of player to thrive at the Ralph Wilson Stadium this year.
A first round pick in this year’s draft, Buffalo were evidently desperate to land the 23-year-old and if he lives up to the hype the Bills could be back among the big boys of the NFL.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.