AFC West Season 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.
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.
Editor Note: AFC West odds preview for 2012, click here
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.