The AFC West was a two-horse race in 2019, and oddsmakers are pointing to it being more of the same this time around. The Kansas City Chiefs took the division down last season, followed closely by the Los Angeles Chargers, a team which managed to snag a Wild Card berth.
Current odds deem the Chiefs the favorite to do it again with the Chargers not too far behind. The other two squads in the division, the Denver Broncos, and Oakland Raiders, have odds to win which are reminiscent of clubs that will fall into the also-ran category in the coming season.
Is that a fair take on the state of the AFC West? Are any of these clubs poised to surprise one way or the other?
Let’s take a closer look at all of these squads in full detail and find out.
*Betting odds provided by MyBookie.ag
Denver Broncos 2019 Division Title Odds (+1200)
2018 Record: 6-10 | Standings: 3-AFC West | Playoffs: N/A
The Broncos opened up 2018 with a pair of big home wins, but the team couldn’t maintain the momentum. A painful four-game losing streak followed, and seats started getting warm in Denver as a result. The bleeding stopped with a 45-10 win at the Arizona Cardinals, but a two-game swoon followed.
The club entered the Week 10 bye with a mark of 3-6. The time off did some good as the Broncos came out and ripped off a three-game winning streak. Unfortunately, that would mark the last time the club tasted victory in 2018.
A four-game skid to close out the year sealed the fate of Vance Joseph, who was wished well in future endeavors after the season came to a close. Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was hired to take the gig. He’ll be joined by OC Rich Scangarello and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.
There were other big changes in the Mile High City as well. The club acquired Joe Flacco via trade, and that made Case Keenum expendable. The team has also drafted a potential QB of the future in Drew Lock out of Missouri.
The team shored up the secondary and added pieces to the offensive line mix. For the first round of the draft, the club selected Iowa TE Noah Fant. They’ve whiffed at the position several times recently, just as they have at QB, but we’ll take a wait and see approach.
The bar has been set at seven regular-season wins for the Broncos. It’s a slight improvement over last year, but this is a club that will be breaking in a new staff and a new signal-caller. The defense should be even better with Fangio at the helm, but the jury is out on offense.
If Flacco can do a serviceable job – and Philip Lindsay continues to blossom off of his impressive rookie season – then the club can exceed expectations. That’s a lot of moving pieces, so we’ll see.
Kansas City Chiefs 2019 Division Title Odds (-160)
2018 Record: 12-4 | Standings: 1-AFC West | Playoffs: Lost AFC Championship Game
The Chiefs opened up 2018 with a 38-28 road win over the Chargers, and they pretty much never looked back. That win started off a five-game winning streak for the team. After losing a three-point decision to the New England Patriots, the team got right back on track and won another four in a row.
A three-point loss to the Los Angeles Rams brought the team into the Week 12 bye with a record of 9-2. The team cooled off a bit at the end and went 3-2 over the final five, but a record of 12-4 was good enough for the top seed in the AFC.
After taking care of the Indianapolis Colts in the Division Round, the club would meet its match when the Patriots came calling for the title tilt. The season came to a close with a 37-31 defeat in overtime. Andy Reid is back for another swing this season.
Eric Bieniemy and Steve Spagnuolo will lead the offense and defense respectively. Patrick Mahomes had a stellar season which wrapped up with an MVP award. He’s looking like a transformative player, but we’ll see what happens now that DC’s around the league have had time to study.
The Chiefs are one of this year’s favorites to reach the Super Bowl. As for regular-season wins, the benchmark has been set at 10.5. This club is certainly talented enough to make a deep postseason run, but it’s also far from a sure thing.
Barring some kind of major and unforeseen problem, Kansas City will certainly be in the mix for the AFC West once again.
Los Angeles Chargers 2019 Division Title Odds (+190)
2018 Record: 12-4 | Standings: 2-AFC West | Playoffs: Lost Divisional Playoffs
The Chargers were a tiebreaker away from winning the division last year. Instead, the club would have to settle for a Wild Card berth. The season didn’t start great as they started off at 1-2, but they caught fire from there.
Los Angeles would win its next six games in a row. At 7-2, they were in the thick of the hunt, but they weren’t done just yet. The club won five of its final six to finish at 12-4. The reward was a trip to Baltimore to face off with Ravens squad who got the better of them in the regular season.
It was a different story in the Wild Card round, as the Chargers picked up a 23-17 road win. The game was not as close as the score suggests. The following week, it was off to New England. The season would come to a close when they were pounded by the Patriots in a 13-point defeat.
Anthony Lynn returns as head coach, while Ken Whisenhunt and Gus Bradley are back as offensive and defensive coordinators. The Super Bowl window for Philip Rivers hasn’t closed just yet, and he’ll be back for another crack at it.
The club has reached loggerheads with Melvin Gordon, as the stud running back wants a new deal. There has been no movement as of this writing. Los Angeles addressed both sides of the ball in the offseason and looks primed for another postseason push.
The win total has been pegged at 9.5, and the Chargers are the second choice of oddsmakers to win the division. The team has more than enough talent to at least return to the playoffs. If there’s an additional improvement on both sides of the ball, they can be quite dangerous if they get there.
It wouldn’t be stunning at all to see the Chargers take the division down in 2019.
Oakland Raiders 2019 Division Title Odds (+1200)
2018 Record: 4-12 | Standings: 4-AFC West | Playoffs: N/A
After a lengthy absence from the sidelines, Jon Gruden put his broadcast career on hold to return to Oakland for the 2018 season. It didn’t go as well as anticipated. The club started out with a record of 0-3, and would ultimately lose five of its first six games to hit the Week 7 bye with a record of 1-5.
It didn’t get any better after the break as the team would lose another three in a row. The Raiders would actually show a little life down the stretch and win three of its final seven games. The end result was a dismal record of 4-12.
Jon Gruden will be back and looking to right the ship. He’ll be joined by OC Greg Olson and DC Paul Guenther. The club shipped off top assets Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper last year, so new GM Mike Mayock and company had plenty of draft capital to work with.
In the first-round alone, the team had three picks. Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell was their first choice, followed by Alabama RB Josh Jacobs and Mississippi State S Jonathan Abram. Both sides of the ball were addressed in free agency, and the club was also able to land Antonio Brown via trade.
Oakland has added a lot of different pieces in short order, so this is a club that could improve quickly if all breaks right. The team will be featured on this season’s edition of Hard Knocks, so we’ll see if that has any impact one way or the other.
At many points in 2018, it was clear this team was in need of a retool. They have done so in the offseason, but the question now is how long it will all take to gel. They’re behind the pack in odds for the division, and the regular-season win total goal has been set at six.
We’re not sure they exceed that mark this year.
Our Pick to Win the AFC West
It’s looking like the division will come down to the Chiefs and Chargers once again, but the Broncos and Raiders will make for interesting sidebars. Both clubs can certainly be more competitive in 2019, but it would probably be a reach to say they’ll be in the postseason hunt.
The final result came down to the wire in 2018, and we’re expecting more of the same this year. We’ll take the Chiefs by a nose as our choice to win.