Odds To Win AFC West Division
When the Denver Broncos acquired Peyton Manning last offseason, the power shifted in a big way, and they tied the Atlanta Falcons for winning their division by the most games — six. Denver is the overwhelming favorite again. The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs have new staffs, and the Oakland Raiders still haven’t found a way to separate themselves from their own “Black Hole.”
– Odds to win AFC West: 1/6
– Odds to win Super Bowl: 6/1
After coming one play short of advancing to the AFC title game last season, the Broncos are on a mission. They reloaded this offseason, adding OG Louis Vasquez, DT Terrance Knighton, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and most notably, former Patriots WR Wes Welker. Welker joins Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker as arguably the best receiving corps in the league with the future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning slinging it all over the gridiron. The defense was very impressive last season and, led by Von Miller, should be stout again. Denver will be favored in all of its division games, but has tough road tests at New England, Houston and the New York Giants. Assuming they take care of business in the AFC West, the Broncos, who get an easy crossover with the AFC South, should be a good bet to go ‘Over’ in 2013.
San Diego Chargers
– 2013 Win Total: 7.5 Over -110
– Odds to win AFC West: 7/1
Another disappointing season in San Diego led to the firings of Norv Turner and A.J. Smith. Enter Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco to get the Chargers and Philip Rivers back on track. The Chargers lost a lot of starters on defense this past offseason, though, including Shaun Phillips. OLB Melvin Ingram tore his ACL in May and could miss the whole season. The O-line got reworked and there are questions at wide receiver. Rivers under center still gives the Chargers a chance, but they’ll need players like Ryan Mathews to step up. It could be a rebuilding year for San Diego with new faces on defense, and crossover games with the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins will be tough, as they counter potentially easier games vs. the Jaguars, Titans and Raiders.
Kansas City Chiefs
– Odds to win AFC West: 7/1
Here is your AFC West dark horse, as the Chiefs do not have the makings of a team that went 2-14 last year and got the No. 1 pick. They nabbed arguably the top head coach on the market in Andy Reid, who has had plenty of success in his career. K.C. has a new starting QB in Alex Smith, who performed well the past two seasons before getting hurt last year with the 49ers. Other new starters include CB Sean Smith and No. 1 pick OT Eric Fisher. This team also had plenty of Pro Bowlers last year, despite its poor record. Jamaal Charles on offense and Eric Berry on defense are both young playmakers. With Reid at the helm and crossovers against the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, in addition to two games against the Chargers and Raiders apiece and a season opener in Jacksonville, look for the Chiefs to go ‘Over,’ assuming Smith can be the answer under center.
– Odds to win AFC West: 20/1
Woe is the Raiders. Oakland hasn’t qualified for the second season since 2002 and went 4-12 last season. Salary-cap issues hamstrung GM Reggie McKenzie, as Oakland had to part ways with players like Darrius Heyward- Bey and Michael Huff. It’s a completely new-look defense with Tyvon Branch and Lamarr Houston as the only returning starters. Offensively, the strength of this teams comes in the trenches and with RB Darren McFadden — if he stays healthy. Oakland also has some intriguing speed and talent at the wide receiver position. Aside from a below-average defense, the Raiders have questions at quarterback. Matt Flynn is the front-runner, and he’ll compete with Terrelle Pryor and rookie Tyler Wilson. This could be a very long season for the Raiders before they can have the flexibility to add some quality players. Their best chance is to have a healthy McFadden all year and find stability at quarterback.