2018 AFC West Divisional Future Predictions
We already went over the AFC North and predicted the Ravens would knock the Steelers off their perch as the reigning champions. Today, we move onto the AFC West, which looks to be especially competitive according to the oddsmakers. Divisional futures are one of the more fun betting markets and offer a better short of a return than AFC and NFC title and Super Bowl futures. We’ll break down each division as we lead up to the season, starting today with the AFC West’s teams.
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Betting Odds to Win the American Football Conference West Division
- Los Angeles Chargers +135
- Kansas City Chiefs +250
- Oakland Raiders +300
- Denver Broncos +550
Los Angeles Chargers +135
Los Angeles had some tough breaks last season, narrowly losing several games by just a few points. They finished with a 9-7 record, just one game behind the division-winning, Kansas City Chiefs, which finished with a 10-6 mark. Not much has changed on the coaching or personnel front for the Chargers. Anthony Lynn returns for his second year with two established coordinators. Unfortunately, in the preseason, they did lose a tight end, Hunter Henry, who tore his ACL. Oft-injured cornerback, Jason Verrett, was lost in training camp, as well, with another torn ACL.
Kansas City Chiefs +250
The Chiefs started last season with a win against New England, then the defending-Super Bowl Champions, but had to rally late in the season after they won just one of seven games in the middle of the year. KC’s coaching staff hasn’t changed, but they did make quite a few personnel moves. Alex Smith was traded to the Redskins. Sophomore quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, will take the reins. Sammy Watkins was signed in free agency. They also traded cornerback, Marcus Peters, to the Los Angeles Rams.
Oakland Raiders +300
The Raiders made a big splash this offseason after signing Jon Gruden to a whopping 10-year, 100 million dollar contract, which had to have other top-NFL head coaches grinning. The new head coach has already been expressing his desire to be “old school,” which apparently, includes, busting out 1985 era playbooks. Oakland finished 6-10 last season and let go of Jack Del Rio and his staff. Now comes in Gruden, who has especially shaken up the receiving corps. Gone is Michael Crabtree, who was released and has signed with Baltimore. In addition to Amare Cooper, former-Steeler, Martavis Bryant, was brought in, and former-Packer, Jordy Nelson.
Denver Broncos +550
Vance Joseph and their staff are in their second year, and they have a new quarterback. After a stellar season in Minnesota last season, Case Keenum, will be under center for the Broncos. Gone are Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian. The defense lost Aqib Talib to the Rams but did draft defensive end, Bradley Chubb in the first round. They look to improve on their 5-11 record, which was last in the division last season.
2018 NFL AFC West Divisional Pick – Los Angeles Chargers +135
This division will certainly be interesting, and while I am high on Mahomes long-term, there may be a few growing pains, especially with how he’s looked in the preseason so far. However, it’s more about Kansas City’s defense, which makes think the Chargers take the West this season. Andy Reid’s offenses always seem to do well and produce but numbers, but the loss of Marcus Peters and the lack of talent in the KC secondary cannot be overstated. This team is absolute sieve against the pass and did look too good against the run late in the season or in the playoffs, either.
Furthermore, this division is full of potent passing attacks. Rivers to Allen and Williams. Keenum to Thomas and Sanders. Carr to Cooper. L.A. could have easily been a playoff team last season, but they finished 9-7 and have a much easier schedule. They’re 28th in strength of schedule and easily have the best defense in the division and debatably the best offense. If the ball bounced their way a few more times last season, they might have very well been an 11-5 team.
I’m writing off Oakland because I think the Gruden hire is one of the biggest misallocations of resources in the history of the NFL. Gruden is a decent coach, at least, he was, ten years ago. But, ten million is far too much to pay any coach, let alone one that is anti-analytics and is bringing 30-year-old playbooks to training camp. That and the Raiders roster doesn’t compare to L.A.’s and Kansas City’s.
If you’re looking to take a long shot in the division, aside from betting the “chalk” in the Chargers, consider the Broncos at +550. Their defense is not as good as it was years ago, but Keenum’s upgrade from Osweiler, Siemian, and Lynch. You could place a wager on both teams and still profit if you put a smaller wager on Denver. To learn about betting on NFL read our Pro Football Betting Guide.
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