We picked the favorites to win the other three divisions in the AFC, and we actually do so again in the West with the San Diego Chargers being the biggest division favorite of all at -200, but the difference is that the West has a viable second option in the Oakland Raiders at a decent +450, a price that will look even better if the Chargers get off to their customary slow start.
San Diego Chargers (-200): The Chargers look to be the best this division has to offer on paper, but that was also the case last season, when they remarkably led the NFL in both total offense and total defense and yet finished with just a 9-7 overall record! They were done in by their annual slow start under Norv Turner. If the Chargers play better in September this year, and we think they will, as Norv’s job may depend on it, then they could run away and hide. If they stumble out of the gate again and fall a couple of games behind the Raiders early, they could be in trouble.
(Also see: Chargers Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Oakland Raiders (+450): This is the best value in the division, as we don’t feel that Oakland should be a longer price than Kansas City. The Raiders went from a rag-tag team two years ago to a respectable 8-8 last season, when they went a perfect 6-0 inside the West! Granted, all that did was get coach Tom Cable fired, but that had more to do with off-the-field issues and his departure could be seen as a positive. One negative is the probable loss of free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, but Richard Seymour has become a team leader, even leading workouts for several Oakland players near his home during the lockout.
(Also see: Raiders Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Kansas City Chiefs (+350): The Chefs overachieved greatly while going 10-6 last season and we look for them to regress behind the Raiders this year. Kansas City took advantage of a soft schedule last season, and even the few good teams they beat were at their low points for the season when the Chiefs faced them. Kansas City was exposed by the Raiders in the final game of the season with a chance to clinch a bye, and the Chiefs were exposed more so by the Ravens in the playoffs. Look for a return to reality this year, so don’t go anywhere near this squad with only a 7/2 return on the odds.
(Also see: Chiefs Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Denver Broncos (+1000): The Broncos may surprise a few people and Tim Tebow might turn out to be a better NFL quarterback than people think, but it probably will not be enough to escape the AFC West basement this season. Denver’s 4-12 record a year ago was well deserved as they had the worst defense in the NFL, allowing a disgusting 29.4 points and 390.9 total yards per game. First round draft pick Von Miller from Texas A&M is a great pass rusher, but it remains to be seen if he can help improve the run defense. Besides, the defense needs more than one infusion after last year, so do not expect too much improvement from the orange and blue in 2011-12.
(Also see: Broncos Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
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