Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos open up as clear favorites to win the AFC West division as they try to get back to the Super Bowl.
Odds to win the AFC West
Denver Broncos – Season win total: Over/under 11.5 (under -121)
The rich looks to have gotten richer in the AFC West. Coming off the best season a quarterback has ever had, Peyton Manning lost Eric Decker, but gained Emmanuel Sanders at wideout. Meanwhile, on defence the Broncos added defensive end DeMarcus Ware and cornerback Aqib Talib. On paper, this team may be even better than it was last year, although Denver does face a very difficult schedule this year. Manning is in for another big year but we’ll see a few more losses on the record today.
Prediction: 11-5, first place in AFC West. The Broncos are a strong bet to win this division, but not at this price. You’ll see this through the season with inflated pointspread and Denver is going to have a tough time covering lofty numbers. Temper your expectations.
San Diego Chargers – Season win total: Over/under 8.5 (under -164)
The Chargers are another team that’s facing a tough schedule this year and they won’t have as smooth a road to the playoffs as they did last season. San Diego will go as far as its defence takes it. The Chargers held each of their last seven opponents to 24 or fewer points down the stretch in 2014 and should build on that success this year. If the offence can maintain ball control with a healthy Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews, San Diego should be pushing for a playoff spot again.
Prediction: 9-7, second place in AFC West. San Diego’s defence could be scary good and the Chargers can control the ball with the running game. That’s a recipe of a good team against the spread.
Kansas City Chiefs – Season win total: Over/under 8.5 (under -143)
The Chiefs aren’t going to surprise anybody after going 11-5 last year, but you have to wonder how this team will bounce back after losing six of its last eight. The Chiefs know what they’re doing on offence. They’ll look to control the clock with Jamaal Charles moving the chains while quarterback Alex Smith takes care of the ball. That could be more difficult this year as the league now knows Smith won’t be challenging them deep. This team might be a prime candidate to take step back this season.
Prediction: 8-8, third place in AFC West. This is a team you can look at fading early. The Chiefs go to Denver, Miami and San Francisco and are at home to New England in their first five games.
Oakland Raiders – Season win total: Over/under 4.5 (over -158)
The Raiders look destined to remain in the AFC West basement again this year. They’re putting their faith in quarterback Matt Schaub and a couple of veteran running backs in Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden to fuel the offence. That may turn out to be a problem. Both of those backs are past their prime in Schaub’s receivers are still developing. Oakland’s defence can’t get much worse after giving up 458 points last year – second-most in franchise history. You don’t fix that kind of wreckage in a single year.
Prediction: 6-10, fourth place in AFC West. Steer well clear of this team for the first four weeks. From there we’ll know what the Raiders are all about and it probably won’t be pretty.