to win AFC West
Picks and Preview
There hasn’t been much of a question to who was going to win the AFC West the last couple of years, but that’s starting to change a bit. With Peyton Manning aging, the Broncos odds have started dropping some. Last year, Denver was a comfy -360, but that number has fallen a good amount to -170. However, will there be enough challenge for them to give up the title?
Odds to win AFC West
Denver Broncos -170 (field wins +150)
Kansas City Chiefs +380
San Diego Chargers +440
Oakland Raiders +3150
Peyton Manning is 39 years old, but how much is that going to matter for the quarterback that has at least 37 touchdowns in three straight seasons with the Denver Broncos? Manning will have favorite targets Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders back to help, although the loss of tight end Julius Thomas may hurt his TD numbers. Still, Owen Daniels is a capable tight end and Cody LAtimer is expected to step up in his second year in the league. C.J. Anderson took off toward the end of last season and is expected to be the lead cow from the start in GAry Kubiak’s system. Manning may not throw as much this year, but that doesn’t mean this offense will be any worse. To go with that, the Broncos also have a stout defense. Kubiak brings over coordinator Wade Phillips to lead that group and it’s basically the same guys from a year ago. Von Miller silently had 14 sacks and DeMarcus Ware had another 10 on the other side. There’s not much not to like about this team and even though they crashed out in the playoffs last season, they’re still one of the best.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a great defense, but if the offense can’t score, that’s going to be a problem. Not to say the Chiefs have a terrible offense because they can move the ball fairly well, but when your WRs don’t have a TD, something isn’t going the right way. To get into the playoffs or have a shot at the AFC West, they can’t lose as many Games as they did while scoring 17 points or less (five times). Alex Smith isn’t going to become a new quarterback overnight and that’s the main issue in this offense. Jeremy MAClin may be an upgrade over Dwayne Bowe, but the receivers around him are nothing special, outside of tight end Travis Kelce. And of course Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis are one of the best one-two puNChes in the league. The Chiefs will oNCe again have a tough defense with Derrick Johnson returning from injury. But like last year, this team doesn’t have the final edge to take out a team like the Broncos.
The San Diego Chargers are in a similar situation as the Chiefs, although their defense is lesser. Philip Rivers can only do so much for this team and that’s been the case for the last few years. Their offensive line is still a problem and that won’t help Rivers much. Melvin Gordon can provide a spark to the backfield and a healthy Danny Woodhead will be a boost, as well. Rivers has solid options to pass to in Keenan Allen, Antonio GAtes and newcomer Stevie Johnson, but the line needs to be better for this offense to have more success. The Chargers have the players on defense, but haven’t really done much with them, partly due to injuries and partly due to underperforming and iNConsisteNCies. This team has a chance to compete with the Broncos, but that was the case the last couple years and they didn’t really get close.
There isn’t much to say about the Oakland Raiders except that they have some nice pieces. Derek Carr is expected to improve in his second season and he’ll have Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree helping along. LAtavius Murray is finally the starter and if he can stay healthy, can be in for a nice season. OUtside of that, the Raiders still need help on defense, although they are improving little by little.
The odds are worse for the Broncos this year, but winning their fifth-straight division title is likely at this point. People aren’t giving them as much respect just because how they closed last year. But 2015 is a new season and nothing from the other teams suggests that Denver won’t win the West.