MaximBet’s AFC Odds Tighten After Deshaun Watson & Matt Ryan Trades
An already stacked AFC becomes even stronger with the addition of franchise quarterbacks to the Browns and Colts.
Let me just say, as a Los Angeles Rams fan banking on the team making a return trip to the Super Bowl, I’m thrilled to see every good quarterback go to the AFC and turn that conference into a woodchipper.
Over a matter of days, an already ridiculously formidable AFC became significantly stronger, with former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson joining the Cleveland Browns in a blockbuster trade and the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan heading to the Indianapolis Colts.
As part of the Watson deal, the Texans receive Cleveland’s 2022, 2023 and 2024 first round draft picks, a 2023 third round pick and 2022 and 2024 fourth rounders.
Houston sends Watson to Cleveland with a 2024 sixth round draft selection and, of course, all the off-the-field baggage that’s been filling up your Twitter timeline.
As a guy not paid to write legal analysis on such things, I’ve been able to dodge pretty much every unsavory aspect of the Deshaun Watson situation since he first closed off his Instagram DMs.
But it does feel like everyone has to toss in their moral take and here’s mine — If I was innocent and had a $230 million guaranteed contract headed my way, I’d easily spend $100 million of it to fight every step of the way and get all that shit off my name. If I was guilty of any of it, I’d spend some of that money to make it all go away as fast as possible.
So, we’ll see what happens.
As for the Colts, they don’t have to deal with anything like that at all with Ryan, who has been a model citizen from what I can tell. He also cost only a 2022 third rounder, which I would pay for a guy like Ryan every time. He’s not as talented as Watson and certainly at a different point of his career, but both guys are unquestionably franchise quarterbacks.
And the NFL does not have enough of those to go around.
I’ve written this many times and it remains just as true today — there are 32 franchises in the NFL. There are not 32 NFL franchise quarterbacks on the planet. The Rams proved last season definitively what adding a franchise guy to a packed roster can get you. No team has any excuse to sit around with a Baker Mayfield dragging your team down for half a decade when you could be hoisting a Lombardi.
Cleveland Browns Are Now An AFC Favorite
As of this writing with Watson on board, the Cleveland Browns are +1200 to win the AFC according to the odds at MaximBet, tied with the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
That puts Cleveland at sixth in the odds behind the Buffalo Bills (+350), the Kansas City Chiefs (+500), the Denver Broncos (+800), the Los Angeles Chargers (+800) and the Baltimore Ravens (+1000).
Are they a good bet there? If you’re a Browns fan, you have to make that wager. That’s the rule. If you’re not, then I’m pumping the brakes. If, in my moralistic take scenario above, Watson pays to make most if not all his 22 civil cases go away, he’s looking at a suspension. My guess is eight games.
That means Cleveland will be going to battle with Jacoby Brissett for half the season and by the time Watson steps on to the field in November, it will be nearly two calendar years since he last played in a professional football game.
Watson could get it all together by the end of the season, but, again as mentioned above, the AFC is now a grindhouse and the only way a team in that conference can guarantee a playoff spot is to win their division. If Watson misses half a season, the Browns will not compete for the AFC North.
Indianapolis Colts Cannot Be Ignored
While the spotlight has been on the Browns and Watson, Ryan’s addition to the Colts makes them not only a playoff contender, but gives them a puncher’s chance at the AFC South title.
Last year, with Carson Wentz, Indianapolis took its playoff hopes down to the wire and wasn’t out of the AFC South championship race until the final month of the season. The South remains a garbage gyre, with only the Tennessee Titans a serious threat. I would argue that Ryan is a better QB than Ryan Tannehill and the Colts match up with the Titans across the board pretty well.
At MaximBet, Indianapolis is +1400 to win the AFC. I don’t see that happening, but they are tied with the Titans at +125 to win the AFC South. I like that bet a lot and Ryan could find rejuvenated life in a new market with a run heavy and defensive team around him.
I mean, just not having to face Tom Brady twice a year should be worth something.
Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.
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