AFC West Odds: 2012 Preview
A changing of the guard at quarterback has the Denver Broncos as big favorites to repeat as AFC West champions this season.
Last year the Broncos went on a miraculous run late in the season to win the AFC West with an 8-8 record. That wasn't enough to keep Tebow time alive in Mile High City. Tebow's out and Peyton Manning's in and the oddsmakers like it and have listed Denver as a 9/5 divisional favorite. Manning won't have the strong offensive line he had in Indianapolis and he'll have to break-in new receivers in Eric Decker and Demeryius Thomas. There's also the three neck surgeries to worry about as well. You don't want to say Denver's chances live or die on Manning, but look what happened to the Colts last year without him.
The San Diego Chargers have been consistent AFC West favorites for a number of years, but they haven't claimed the division since 2009. This season they're a 2/1 underdog behind Denver. Philip Rivers will try to bounce back from a disappointing season with a new go-to receiver after Vincent Jackson fled to Tampa Bay. Malcolm Floyd remains along with Vincent Brown, but new acquisition Robert Meahem could be the one to watch. Ryan Mathews got hurt on his first carry during the preseason and is expected to miss the first couple weeks of the season which is bad news for the San Diego running game now reliant on a assortment of veterans.
The big thing the Kansas City Chiefs should hope for this season is a healthy offense. Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki all missed significant time last season, but all should be healthy to start the season. Dwayne Bowe and Jon Baldwin give Cassel a solid receiving duo, but Bowe needs to end his holdout and show up in camp first. If the Chiefs can avoid the big injuries that decimated their lineup last season they could be a worthwhile pick at 3/1.
The Oakland Raiders are the biggest underdogs on the AFC West odds, but they still have a shot at 4/1. The never ending coaching carousel in Oakland continues as Dennis Allen became the third Raiders coach in the last three years. Allen takes over a Raiders team with plenty of talent, but can they put it all together? Can Carson Palmer come close to his old form after an up-and-down first season in Oakland? Can Darren McFadden finally make it through a full season healthy? The answer to those two questions will likely determine if the Raiders contend or sink in the AFC West this season.