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2018

AFC West

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Odds to Win

No one knows what to do with the AFC West and that’s seen in the odds. The Chargers are favored after finishing 9-7 last year, while last year’s favorite, the Raiders, aren’t far off from having the worst odds to win the division. Needless to say, the division is a toss up again.

 

Odds to win AFC West 

Courtesy of 5dimes (mid August)

Los Angeles Chargers +150 (field wins -170)

Kansas City Chiefs +260

Oakland Raiders +390

Denver Broncos +435

The Los Angeles Chargers (over/under 9.5) have the best quarterback in the division and that’s the main reason they’re such large favorites. Philip Rivers is getting older, but he continues to produce and that’s all that matters. Melvin Gordon broke out last season and he’s set for another solid year with new center Mike Pouncey helping on the line. Outside of the loss of Hunter Henry (torn ACL) the receiving core is mostly the same led by Keenan Allen. The defense has kept the Chargers competitive no matter the opponent the last couple seasons and they could be better. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are still around up front, while adding safety Derwin James could prove helpful. They’ll need someone to step up at corner after Jason Verrett tore his Achilles in training camp. 

Surprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs (over/under 8.5) have the next best odds even with a first-year starting quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is set to lead the way and any range of outcomes can be expected. Of course, he still has tons of talent around him with Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. The addition of Sammy Watkins to the receiving corps doesn’t hurt, either. To have a chance at the division, the defense must improve after finishing 30th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. They added guys like Anthony Hitchens and Kendall Fuller, but also lost Derrick Johnson and Marcus Peters. The hope is that Eric Berry returns to full strength and Justin Houston is still a beast up front. If that happens, they should at least be an average defense. 

The Oakland Raiders (over/under 8) are next under new head coach Jon Gruden. This team may have the most questions of any in the division mainly because of Gruden. Derek Carr can be a good quarterback, but he fell off last year and that correlated with wide receiver Amari Cooper. The addition of Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant could help, but Gruden may turn to the ground more often than not with Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin. At the least, the Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Their defense was an equally big problem last year as they couldn’t stop anyone. A ton of new guys will fight for time, but outside of Khalil Mack, the high-end playmakers are missing. Newcomers Tahir Whitehead and Rashaan Melvin could help, but neither of them came from elite defenses.

The team not in many conversations is the Denver Broncos (over/under 7), but they aren’t far off from the rest. If Case Keenum can repeat what he did last year for the Vikings, that’d at least be a starting point for an offense that struggled all last season. They added some pieces on the line and still have talent at skill positions with Royce Freeman joining Devontae Booker in the backfield. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders used to be two of the best in the league and will produce if Keenum can get them the ball. The defense is no longer as good as it once was, but they still are above average with Von Miller and Brandon Marshall running things. There are some new faces in the secondary with Tramaine Brock and Su’a Cravens, while Chris Harris remains one of the best corners in the league. 

If the Chargers don’t get any more injuries, which has often been their issue, they’ll be set to win the division and make the playoffs. But something always seems to go wrong for them. Then again, there isn’t one team that stands out to win the AFC West instead of the Chargers. The Chiefs have a new quarterback, the Raiders have a bad defense and the Broncos haven’t had a viable offense since Peyton Manning left.

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