Odds and Picks
since the Broncos won the Super Bowl two years ago, this division has become a toss-up and that’s evident by the Chargers’s odds this season. Any team can win the AFC West, but the Raiders and Chiefs are at the top of predictions because both finished with 12 wins a year ago, three more than the Broncos and seven more than the Chargers.
Odds to win AFC West
courtesy of 5dimes (early August)
Oakland Raiders +180 (field wins -220)
Kansas City Chiefs +220
Los Angeles Chargers +350
Denver Broncos +425
The Oakland Raiders (over/under 9.5) have turned into everyone’s favorite team in only a year and now the addition of Marshawn LyNCh only added to that. Derek Carr gives the team the added boost, but as a whole the roster is loaded on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the Raiders turned into one of the best in the league last year scoring 416 points and all of the same players are back with LyNCh at running back. Another year for Carr and Amari Cooper should also give more dividends, while the offensive line remains one of the best in the NFL. To add depth and explosiveness, tight end Jared Cook and playmaker Cordarrelle were added in the offseason. Defense is the bigger question as Kahlil MACk can’t do everything himself. The hope is the secondary takes a step with cornerback GAreon Conley coming in and safety Karl Joseph in his second year. Up front, Jelani Jenkins was added at linebacker and Mario Edwards hopes to make an impact after missing most of last season through injury.
Not far off are the Kansas City Chiefs (over/under 9), which most people have seemed to forget about. That’s kind of what happens when you have Alex Smith at quarterback, though. Patrick Mahomes was drafted, but it’s hard to see him getting time as a rookie. SpeNCer Ware and Charcandrick West will split duties in the backfield with oft-injured Jamaal Charles gone, while receiver is a bit of a question outside of big-play Tyreek Hill. That said, Travis Kelce has been consistent at tight end so Smith at least has a couple targets to use. Being just as good on the defensive end will be hard with tackle Dontari Poe gone. Of course, Derrick Johnson is still there with Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Tamba Hali, but also second-year end Chris Jones expected to make a leap. The secondary also didn’t need to do much with Marcus Peters and Eric Berry two of the best at their positions.
There’s a bit of a fall off after the top two teams with the Denver Broncos (over/under 8) a hard team to trust with Trevor Siemian and Paxton LyNCh at quarterback. Those two didn’t do enough last year and there’s no reason to think they’ll do enough this season. The way they can be better is if the offensive line improves and that’s more than possible with guard Ronald Leary added to the mix with tackles GArett Bolles and Menelik Watson. They have the running backs with C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles, as well as the receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but this is a quarterback league and that’s one thing this team doesn’t have. Denver’s defense remains one of the best around and that should be the case again with the same playmakers at every level from Von Miller to Chris Harris and T.J. Ward. There’s also the question of what VaNCe Joseph can do in his first season as a head coach.
The Los Angeles Chargers (over/under 8) can’t be forgotten about because they were competitive in almost every Game last year even with only five wins. Philip Rivers is still around and the main hope is that top receiver Keenan Allen stays healthy along with running back Melvin Gordon. This offense was good last year even with injuries and added Russell Okung and Forrest LAmp to help on the line. This is another AFC West defense that has tons of potential with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the ends and a hopefully healthy Jason Verrett at corner with Casey Hayward. The Chargers have a solid team, but there’s little reason to trust them ahead of the top of the division.
The Raiders remain the favorite team to back in this division because they are the most complete one. The Chiefs are good, but are expected to take a step back from last year’s 12 wins, while the Broncos have questions at quarterback and the Chargers are never healthy. At the least, the Raiders aren’t huge favorites so there is some value in taking them.