AFC West Futures: Chiefs on the Rise

Kansas City Chiefs Eric Barry

Not many people could have predicted the Kansas City Chiefs would give the Denver Broncos a run for their money for the AFC West a month into the NFL season, but that’s exactly what’s happened as the campaign hits the home stretch. Need some proof as to how much of a long shot Kansas City was? Just look at the shift in odds.

On Nov. 5, the then undefeated Broncos were a ridiculous -10,000 to represent the division in the postseason for the fifth consecutive year at online sportsbook Bovada. But thanks to a seven-game winning streak by the Chiefs (8-5), Denver’s odds now sit at -900 as a result of their 10-3 record. Futures bettors looking for value will gladly scoop up K.C. at +450, as those odds will surely drop if Alex Smith and company can keep up their winning ways with three games remaining on the slate.

If you were one of the Broncos bettors who grabbed the -10,000 line in early November, well, you should probably stop gambling. If you took a flier on the San Diego Chargers (3-10) at the start of the season, you may as well have taken a blowtorch to your wallet.

2016 AFC West Champion

Odds as of December 16 at Bovada

  • Denver Broncos -900
  • Kansas City Chiefs +450

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After opening the season 7-0, including 2-0 within the division, it's no wonder that the Denver Broncos are massive favorites to win the AFC West. The Broncos are an absurd -10,000 at Bovada to win the AFC West crown for the fifth consecutive season.

Denver’s defense has been terrifying this season with their 29.0 sacks, which is three more than any other team in the league after eight weeks. The defense has been carrying the Broncos as Peyton Manning and the offense have been struggling immensely, with the first ballot hall of famer throwing seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions so far this season.

The Raiders, who are 4-3, are currently +1000 to win the division. Oakland has put themselves firmly in the AFC Wild Card hunt thanks to an offense that ranks in the top 10 in both passing yards and points per game. If the Raiders want to take a run at the crown they will need to capitalize on the weaker teams in the AFC West and win a showdown with the Broncos in Week 14.

The Kansas City Chiefs are just 3-5, but are trending downwards after losing running back Jamaal Charles for the season after he tore his ACL in Week 5. Though the San Diego Chargers have the most prolific passer in the NFL through the first half of the season in Philip Rivers, a 2-6 record has them in last place in the standings and in the odds.

2015/16 AFC West Champion

Odds as of November 5 at Bovada

  • Denver Broncos -10,000
  • Oakland Raiders +1000
  • Kansas City Chiefs +4000
  • San Diego Chargers +10,000


In what could finally be Peyton Manning’s last year in the NFL, the Denver Broncos will try to win their fifth straight AFC West division title as the -175 favorites over the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders at Bovada.

The Broncos have not really been challenged by any of the other teams in the division since Manning arrived in Denver three years ago even though the Chiefs and Chargers have also both made the postseason during that stretch.

The Broncos have lost at home in the divisional round of the playoffs in two of Manning’s three years there while losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl following the 2013 regular season. Last year, Denver fell to the Indianapolis Colts in the postseason after finishing with a 12-4 record.

But Kansas City and San Diego did not fare any better in their recent playoff appearances, neither of which happened last year when each of them finished with identical 9-7 marks.

The Chiefs are the +325 second choice (bet $100 to win $325) to win the division at Bovada and hope the addition of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will help boost their offense after he came over as a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Chargers nearly made the postseason a year ago but lost to Kansas City in the regular-season finale, and they face a similar uncertain future offensively as the Broncos with quarterback Philip Rivers starting to show signs of aging.

San Diego is +500 to win the AFC West at Bovada and selected Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft in an effort to prolong Rivers’ career.

The Raiders enjoyed a solid draft but remain +1400 longshots to win the division after finishing 3-13 last season. Oakland has not had a winning campaign since 2002 when the team lost Super Bowl XXXVII to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2015/16 AFC West Champion

Odds as of August 22 at Bovada

  • Denver Broncos -175
  • Kansas City Chiefs +325
  • San Diego Chargers +500
  • Oakland Raiders +1400
2015/16 AFC West Champion

Odds as of July 20 at Bovada

  • Denver Broncos -200
  • Kansas City Chiefs +400
  • San Diego Chargers +500
  • Oakland Raiders +1200
2015/16 AFC West Champion

Odds as of May 5 at Bovada

  • Denver Broncos -200
  • Kansas City Chiefs +350
  • San Diego Chargers +500
  • Oakland Raiders +1800


2014 AFC West Odds Preview

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos got embarrassed in the Super Bowl last season, but during the regular season they managed to win the AFC West division crown - and the sportsbooks expect them to win the division title again in 2014.

At Bovada the Broncos have been pegged as the -300 favorites on the odds to win the AFC West in 2014, after Manning led them to a 13-3 record in the regular season last year - the best mark in the AFC. Denver also went 5-1 against AFC West opponents in 2013.

Denver Broncos Odds to Win AFC West -300
San Diego Chargers Odds to Win AFC West +500
Kansas City Chiefs Odds to Win AFC West +600
Oakland Raiders Odds to Win AFC West +1800

The Kansas City Chiefs finished second to the Broncos in the AFC West standings last year, but are third on the AFC West futures at Bovada at +600. Kansas City went 11-5 overall last season, but just 2-4 against the other three teams in the division.

The San Diego Chargers are second at +500 on the AFC West odds after they went 9-7 overall and 4-2 in the division in 2013, while the Oakland Raiders are the +1800 longshots on the futures list. Oakland ended up 4-12 last season, winning just one of their six games against AFC West teams.


2013 AFC West Odds Preview

The race for the AFC West wasn’t even close in 2012 as the Denver Broncos ran away with it down the stretch, finishing six wins ahead of second place San Diego when it was all said and done. Denver was a perfect 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS against its divisional opponents last season.

The Broncos enter this season as a favorite to win the Super Bowl while San Diego, Kansas City, and Oakland are all in different stages of a rebuild. Barring an injury to Peyton Manning, this division race projects to be the least competitive in the NFL.

Denver Broncos (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -400)

After starting last season off 2-3 SU and ATS, Denver corrected its mistakes over its bye week and ended the regular season on an 11-0 SU and 9-2 ATS run. The Broncos were sensational on both offense and defense while locking up the top seed in the AFC.

A loss to Baltimore in the playoffs put a bitter end to what was an excellent season and a quick return to splendor for Peyton Manning, who had one of the greatest seasons of his career. With the addition of Wes Welker, Denver returns with not only one of the league’s best teams on paper, but a chip on its shoulder as well.

Kansas City Chiefs (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +550)

Terrible quarterback play from Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn sunk Kansas City in 2012. With new head coach Andy Reid’s proven passing attack and a much more capable quarterback in Alex Smith under center this season, the Chiefs should take a giant step forward on offense.

Kansas City will look nothing like the team that went 2-14 SU and 5-11 ATS last season. But with a new coach and a tough schedule, the Chiefs aren’t quite ready to challenge Denver for the AFC West’s top spot. A push for a wild card spot could be in the cards though if it all comes together this season.

San Diego Chargers (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +600)

The San Diego Chargers have finally turned the page on the Norv Turner era, and bring in quarterback guru Mike McCoy as head coach. McCoy helped coach Kyle Orton, Tim Tebow, and Peyton Manning to great seasons while in Denver.

San Diego is hoping that McCoy can help Philip Rivers get back to the form he was in from 2008-2010, when he was one of the league’s top quarterbacks. McCoy should help Rivers, but as a rookie head coach there is bound to be a learning curve. San Diego appears headed in the right direction, but will likely need a year or two to find its new identity.

Oakland Raiders (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +2000)

After years of bloated salaries under Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders are finally blowing things up and starting from scratch. While this may be a good decision for the future, it leaves the present in rough shape.

Among the many cuts made were QB Carson Palmer and TE Brandon Myers, the team’s two top offensive performers last season. Matt Flynn, Tyler Wilson, and Terrelle Pryor will all be in the mix for playing time at quarterback this season, but regardless of who is under center, Oakland would have to consider getting back to last season’s win total of four a success.


2012 AFC West Odds Preview


2011 AFC West Odds Preview

2010 was a bizarre year for the AFC West. San Diego had the NFL’s best overall offense and defense, and the Oakland Raiders went 6-0 in division play; yet both finished behind AFC West champion Kansas City.With four division titles over the last five seasons, San Diego has held a stranglehold on the AFC West. Was last season just a fluke, or are the tides starting to turn in the AFC West? Time will tell.

San Diego Chargers (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -250)

Special teams coverage was San Diego’s Achilles heel last season, and no team may benefit more from the new shorter kickoff rule than the Chargers. Philip Rivers leads a loaded offense that will have Vincent Jackson from Week 1 this season, and one of the league’s premier defenses may have gotten better this offseason with the additions of Takeo Spikes and Bob Sanders.

The Chargers are clearly the most talented team in the AFC West, and could easily take their spot back atop the conference if they can avoid their seemingly annual slow start.

Kansas City Chiefs (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +450)

A soft schedule helped matters last season, but the real key to success was Jamaal Charles and the running game, which racked up more rushing yards than any other team in the NFL.

Kansas City is a good young team, and the additions of Steve Breaston and rookie Jonathan Baldwin should help the passing game. The defense still has improving to do, and matching last season’s 10 wins will be tough; but Kansas City could be right there again if San Diego falters.

Oakland Raiders (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +600)

After finishing 6-0 in division play last season, Oakland can’t be completely written off. That said, despite retaining most of their free agents, the two that got away in Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller left major holes. Kevin Boss was signed to replace Miller, while no one was brought in to replace Asomugha, the best player on Oakland’s defense.

Like Kansas City, Oakland has game-breaking talent at running back with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. If Oakland can find some answers internally at cornerback, they could stay in the hunt down the stretch.

Denver Broncos (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +1000)

Instead of throwing Tim Tebow into the fire, Denver has opted to stick with Kyle Orton at quarterback. Orton is definitely the more polished choice, but that was true last year too, when Denver finished just 4-12.

This will be another rebuilding year for Denver, especially on defense, where they break in second-overall pick Von Miller. Barring any major surprises, it’s hard to see the Broncos climbing out of fourth place.