AFC West Win Total Odds and Predictions
Four playoff teams? In the most loaded division in the NFL, the AFC West will be full of excitement. The sad part is that it’s almost guaranteed that one fan base is going to end the season greatly disappointed. With the Kansas City Chiefs dominating the division during the Patrick Mahomes era, this might be the first year that a bit of confidence is lost with their offseason. Losing the best receiver in the division in Tyreek Hill will hurt the NFL’s most potent offense of the past four seasons. This year, more than ever, the Chiefs must feel an enormous amount of pressure on their heels from the Chargers, Broncos and Raiders. Three teams in the division have an over/under prediction of 10.5, which is the highest of any division in the NFL, and all four teams have quarterbacks who at any given time can look like a top five talent in the NFL.
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Odds to Make Playoffs -160
Odds to Miss Playoffs +140
Odds to win AFC West +270
AFC Championship Odds +850
Super Bowl Odds +1700
They finally got a quarterback…. Or did they? Russell Wilson had the first declining season of his career last year where he did not look nearly as accurate or elusive in the pocket, not to mention he suffered one of the most serious injuries of his career. He is just one season removed from a 40-TD season, and it could be as simple as a new situation with new teammates in a new environment to rejuvenate one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL over the last 10 seasons.
Regardless, Wilson coming to a 7-win team with one of the best defenses in football; the Broncos can only go up from here. Defensively, on paper, their biggest loss could very well be Coach Vic Fangio, who has a track record of elevating defenses that speaks for itself. Losing that aspect could be a factor, but I believe there are enough elements of the defense like cornerback breakout candidate Patrick Surtain, who enters his second season after going 9th overall in 2021, and pro bowler Justin Simmons, to hold the defense down, not to mention maybe Bradley Chubb finally breaks out and becomes the player he was supposed to be. The Broncos finished third in points allowed last year, which really puts the pressure on Wilson as the missing piece of the puzzle in Denver. My prediction the Broncos make the playoffs with 11 wins.
Kansas City Chiefs
Odds to Make Playoffs -240
Odds to Miss Playoffs +200
Odds to win AFC West +170
AFC Championship Odds +450
Super Bowl Odds +1100
Hill is the story; he is a special receiver that has been a dynamic piece of their offense. Mahomes has yet to be without Hill since entering the NFL. It is highly doubtful one of the best offenses in the NFL will digress outside of the top 10 without Hill, but no doubt there could be some growing pains along the way. Mahomes also had statistically his worst season in the NFL, with the worst passer rating (98.5, 10th) of his career. For the Chiefs to win, their defense needs to play at league average to compete for a Super Bowl -- in their past three exits in the playoffs, the opponents have scored 30 or more points, which is hard to keep pace with no matter who your quarterback is. In the Mahomes era, their defense has been their biggest liability and they haven’t been able to shut down high-powered offenses on the big stage.
It’s almost hard to write about the negatives with the Chiefs, as they have won the AFC West every year since 2016, went to back-to-back Super Bowls in 2019 and 2020, and have had a target on their back each and every season. As seen with great quarterbacks over the history of the NFL, great players come and go through their offense, but guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Joe Montana have been able to make other players great around them great, and I believe the same thing applies with Mahomes. The Chiefs get over 10.5 wins and take the AFC West title once again.
Los Angeles Chargers
Odds to Make Playoffs -170
Odds to Miss Playoffs +145
Odds to win AFC West +225
AFC Championship Odds +850
Super Bowl Odds +1400
The Chargers have been the favorite sleeper Super Bowl team over the last 20 years. The Chargers are bolstered with talent, have a franchise quarterback entering his prime, and had two of the biggest offseason signings on the defensive side of the football in the NFL. However, will they ever get over the hump?
What is going against them is that the AFC West is the toughest division in the NFL, and they just have not proven they can win big games at the right time. When competing for a playoff position last year against the Las Vegas Raiders, they fell short on the big stage. The AFC seems to be a battle of the offense, so what is on the Chargers side is that they ranked top 5 in points per game, yards per play, yards per game, 3rd down conversion percentage, red zone scoring and TDs per game. Their defense ranked below 20th in all major categories…. How did the Chargers address this? They signed one of the most premier linebackers in the NFL, who will be sure to cause havoc alongside superstar Joey Bosa. They also signed all-pro cornerback J.C Jackson to match up with elite receivers in the division. It really does seem like the perfect offseason. However, will they get through the battle tested Kansas City Chiefs? It seems unlikely, but they are primed to make a playoff push and to possibly win a playoff game. I think the Chargers win 10 games and sneak into the playoffs.
Las Vegas Raiders
Odds to Make Playoffs +175
Odds to Miss Playoffs -210
Odds to win AFC East +650
AFC Championship Odds +2200
Super Bowl Odds +4000
The Raiders looked back at somewhat a successful season in 2021/2022 where at times looked like a team who could compete with most in the NFL. They cannot restart from Derek Carr, as it would be too much of a gamble to draft a guy and hope he turns out better. Carr is consistently a tier 2 or tier 3 quarterback in the NFL and poses a lot of upside. Las Vegas went out and helped Carr by acquiring the best wide receiver in the NFL, and his former college teammate, Davante Adams, whose track record speaks for itself. Adams will not only enhance their offense but make it easier for the likes of Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. Is it enough for their offensive line to keep their head above water? That’s the biggest question mark for the Raiders moving forward.
Regardless, not very much respect has been shown to a team who outdueled the Los Angeles Chargers in the final game of the season last year to make the playoffs. Chandler Jones will be a significant addition to the Raiders defense. Jones has been a feared defensive end in the NFL over the past decade. He brings a Super Bowl resume with four Pro Bowls, Defensive Player of the Year honors and at the age of 31 last season still had 10.5 sacks. A team that won 10 games last season I do not believe got worse, and I like the over for 8.5 wins as I see them at the bare minimum as a 9-win team.
This division, in my opinion, will be the most fun to keep track of in the NFL, from the talent at quarterback to the storylines continuing from last season. One or maybe two teams are going to end the season with a lot of disappointment, and picking who that is will be the most challenging part. The least amount of respect from oddsmakers has been towards the Las Vegas Raiders, so from a value standpoint they offer maybe the most in the AFC. The exciting part all three teams have closed the gap on Kansas City, Mahomes and the Chiefs have not faced this much talent in the AFC since Mahomes took over at quarterback. Buckle up for the AFC West; this year it should be fun.
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