Derek Carr and the Raiders have become darlings to win the AFC West after an offensive outburst in 2015
The Denver Broncos are getting a normal dose of championship love from futures bettors this year, despite losing their Super Bowl winning quarterback to retirement. Everyone knows how much credit the defense deserved just for making the playoffs, let alone winning the Super Bowl, and the Bronco D is once again shaping up like the class of the league.
Kansas City’s status as the ‘next in line’ among AFC West contenders isn’t nearly as stable. It’s not so much people doubting what the Chiefs can or can’t do. It’s a massive wave of support for the Oakland Raiders that has converted them from a franchise on life support to one that could make ripples in the divisional landscape.
ODDS TO WIN AFC WEST (Now & Then)
Here is each team’s current odds to win the division along with their previously posted odds from early June, in parentheses.
The highly touted Broncos front seven took a blow in mid-August when starting DE Vance Walker tore his ACL at practice. Having already lost Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, this unit may look different but could still be just as effective. Jared Crick was signed from Houston and second round pick Adam Gotsis will figure into the rotation as well.
QB Trevor Siemian has played well enough in preseason to give Mark Sanchez a run for the starting job in Week 1. Top draft pick Paxton Lynch is also learning the game at a good pace. What Denver needs is a good effort out of the gate from CJ Anderson. There is depth with Ronnie Hillman and rookie RB Devontae Booker.
Denver starts with Carolina, Indy and Cinci. After that, they’ll have a nice chance to build momentum towards an epic six-game run from Week 12 out. I’m seeing a 9-7 season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
This win total caught some early action on the “Over” 9 and has since been sailing steady at 9.5 with -115 juice on either side. As we said in our initial preview, HC Andy Reid’s all-time regular season win average during 17 seasons is 9.48, so it makes sense.
The Chiefs went D-heavy in the draft and recently took LB Tamba Hali (knee) off the PUP list. Eric Berry held out through the preseason but is expected to sign the franchise tender and join the team for Week 1. RB Jamaal Charles also looks healthy and the watch will be on to see what kind of production KC can get from thier No. 2 and slot receivers this year.
KC is a big threat to take over this division but it’s far from a given. They’re playing the cards close to their vest and there is no real sense of urgency, yet. With three home games in December, Kansas City has to like its chances for another strong finish.
The odds on the ‘Will the Oakland Raiders make the playoffs’ prop are currently ‘Yes’ at even money or ‘No’ at (-130). Considering this team’s playoff drought and the fact you could count thier total wins on one hand in three of the past four seasons, that’s a pretty good show of respect for Jack Del Rio and his crew.
Derek Carr and the passing game make a great case for optimism. A lot of the credit goes towards their O-Line and this year, RB Latavius Murray is backed by the explosive rookie out of Texas Tech, DeAndre Washington.
Oakland’s defense needs to make a move from good to great if this team is going to track down a division title. They’ve got a good opening schedule but it gets tough in the second-half and as usual, Oakland will have to contend with a fair share of early body clock starts.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Chargers have to be considered one of the league’s top sleepers is terms of teams that could pull off a worst to first in 2016. Their home schedule is favorable but nothing will come easy for Phil Rivers and crew. Circle Week 4’s contest against the Saints as a potential candidate for this year’s highest scoring game!
Given this team’s road schedule and lack of talent on defense, it’s hard to picture them doubling thier win total from last year to go 8-8 SU. At even money, the “Under” 7 wins deserves some serious consideration.