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In a little over nine weeks, the greatest sport and the best sport to gamble on returns. People have started to break down who will be on their fantasy team, and fans have convinced themselves that this will be their year, even though their team missed the playoffs last year. This is the time when fans are the most hopeful, no injuries are happening in training camp, and your heart isn’t broken because you haven’t yet realized that your team sucks.
Today we look at the AFC West, which the Chiefs have dominated. Last year was the fifth straight year where Kansas City won the division. It is the longest active streak of teams winning their division. Over the last five seasons, the Chiefs have gone 60-20. The second-best team over the last five years is the Denver Broncos. They have gone 38-42 since 2016, which is a steep drop off from the Chiefs. Will Kansas City go for six consecutive division wins this year? Will the Broncos quarterback carousel work? Will the Chargers, who are led by their young quarterback, take the next step? Or will Jon Gruden lead the Raiders to their first division win since 2002?
I talked about how dominant the Chiefs have been earlier, but it doesn’t look like their reign will end anytime soon. Last year they won the division going 14-2 and made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but lost 9-31 versus the Bucs. They defeated the Browns 22-17 in the division round and then beat the Bills 38-24 in the AFC Conference Championship on their way to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs have the lowest odds to win the division and the highest win total in the NFL. The next closest team is the Tampa Buccaneers at 11.5 wins.
Led by Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, their offense will look to be dominant again. Last year the Chiefs had the 1st overall offense, 6th points, 1st yards, 1st passing yards, 3rd passing touchdowns, and 16th rushing yards. It’s no surprise that a Patrick Mahomes-led offense is amazing on offense and top of the league in passing stats. Kansas City isn’t only an offense-led team, but their defense also greatly helped their run to the Super Bowl. Last year they had the 4th overall defense, 10th points allowed, 16th yards allowed, 14th passing yards allowed, 20th passing touchdowns allowed, and 10th rushing touchdowns allowed.
Kansas City, of course, made changes in the offseason, but they kept their three-headed monster of Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill. They lost WR Sammy Watkins, LT Eric Fisher, and RB Damien Williams in free agency. They added LG Joe Thuney, RB Jerick McKinnon, and IDL Jarran Reed. During the draft, they added LB Nick Bolton, C Creed Humphrey, and DE Joshua Kaindoh.
The Chiefs’ first-half schedule is much harder than their second half going against the Bills, Ravens, Bills, and Packers. In their second half, they have to go against the Steelers and Bengals and play their division rivals three times. In the last three years, the Chiefs have gone over 12 wins once, but that was in a 17 game schedule. Having another game is another win for this Chiefs team. Their defense doesn’t have to be insanely great, just enough for the Chiefs’ amazing offense to win the game. I know it’s chalk and boring, but I’m taking Kansas City to win the division. I’ll take the value with the Chiefs over in wins since I believe in Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes.
Last year the Chargers went 7-9 and were led by their young quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert took over the starting position in week two and never looked back. Herbert had the most touchdown passes (31), most competitions (396), games of at least 300 yards (8) by a rookie. Now I know all of those records seem impressive, but with teams passing, more and more passing records will be broken every year. Herbert last year also had a 66.6 competition percentage, 4336 yards, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a 69.5 QBR. Last year Los Angeles blew leads of 11 points or more four times. Hopefully, the change of head coach Anthony Lynn to Brandon Staley will seal those victories.
In free agency, they added C Corey Linsley, TE Jared Cook, and RT Matt Feiler; they lost TE Hunter Henry, QB Tyrod Taylor, and S Rayshawn Jenkins. They drafted OT Rashawan Slater, CB Asante Samuel JR, and WR Josh Palmer. The biggest loss is going to be Hunter Henry. Will his departure hurt their passing offense? Last year the Chargers had the 12th best offense, 19th points, 9th yards, 6th passing yards, 10th passing touchdowns, 18th rushing yards, and 27th rushing touchdowns. The Chargers had a middling defense; last year, they had the 17th overall defense, 22nd points allowed, 10th yards allowed, 9th passing yards allowed, 20th passing touchdowns allowed, 18th rushing yards allowed, and 18th rushing touchdowns allowed.
If the NFC East is going to be bad again, maybe the Chargers could sweep those games. I don’t know how much I trust Herbert, even though I threw out all of those stats. Having to go against the Chiefs twice every year is rough. They are given gifts against the Bengals and Texans, but I don’t think that will be enough for them to go over 9.5 wins. This is why I’m taking their under in wins and for them not to win the division.
Last year Denver went 5-11, and it looks like the Drew Lock experiment might be over. In free agency, they added Teddy Bridgewater, and even though Bridgewater isn’t a superstar, he is an improvement over Lock. Last year Lock in 13 games played, had a 57.3 completion percentage, 2933 yards, 16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and 48.8 QBR. Compared to Teddy Bridgewater, who had a 69.1 completion percentage, 3733 yards, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a 64.2 QBR. In the last five seasons, they have had four losing seasons and a 32-48 record since 2016.
Last year, the Broncos were missing superstar Von Miller, but they tried to upgrade their defense in free agency. They added CB Ronald Darby and CB Kyle Fuller. In the draft, they tried to upgrade their offense by drafting OG Patrick Surtain II, RB Javonte Williams, and C Quinn Meinerz. They lost RB Phillip Lindsay, CB A.J. Bauye, and TE Nick Vannett. Hopefully, the addition of Teddy Bridgewater will help their offense. Last year they had the 25th overall offense, 28th points, 23 yards, 26th passing yards, 25th passing touchdowns, and 13th rushing yards. Even without Von Miller, they finished with the 15th overall defense, 25th points allowed, 21st yards allowed, 16th passing yards allowed, 2nd passing touchdowns allowed, and 25th rushing yards allowed.
Going against Jaguars, Jets, Lions, and Bengals should be easy gifts, but will their quarterback concerns be figured out? Is Teddy Bridgewater enough to lead them to over 8.5 wins? I believe the answer is yes. Even though Bridgewater isn’t a superstar, he is a quality starter which isn’t what Lock is. With Von Miller back, the addition of Bridgewater is why I’m taking the Broncos over in wins and not winning the division.
Even though the Raiders finished 2nd in the AFC West going 8-8, they have the highest odds to win the division. Sportsbooks don’t believe in Derek Carr or Jon Gruden, but the public believes in them as they have driven their over down to -145. For the first time since the Raiders moved from Oakland to Las Vegas, they will have fans in Allegiant stadium. If the Golden Knights fans have proven anything is that Las Vegas loves their teams.
In free agency, they added RB Kenyan Drake, WR John Brown, and EDGE Yannick Ngakoue; they lost WR Nelson Agholor, C Rodney Hudson, and RT Trent Brown. In the draft, they added OT Alex Leatherwood, S Trevon Moehrig, and DE Malcom Koonce. Last year their stats couldn’t be more of an 8-8 team as they had the 20th overall offense, 10th points, 8th yards, 7th passing yards, 11th passing touchdowns, and 14th rushing yards. Their defense finished in the same spot since they had the 20th overall defense, 29th points allowed, 25th yards allowed, 26th passing yards allowed, 16th passing touchdowns allowed, and 24th rushing yards allowed.
If they want to go over, they will need to win games against the Dolphins, Bears, Eagles, and Football Team. They, unfortunately, have two games against the Chiefs, a game against the Ravens and Browns. The sportsbooks really nailed it with this win total. I see six wins for this team, and they could easily squeak out another win to get to seven. If I’m getting plus money with the under, and I don’t believe in Derek Carr, so I’ll take their under in wins. I’m obviously not taking them to win the division.