The Kansas City Chiefs will be defending their division title with a new quarterback. Second-year player Patrick Mahomes will lead the Chiefs offense with his big arm.
Jon Gruden takes over an Oakland Raiders team that disappointed in 2017. The key to their success will be if quarterback Derek Carr can play as well as he did two years ago.
The Denver Broncos once again face the same dilemma as last season: can their offense score enough points to keep up with a really good defense?
Check out the AFC West odds below along with analysis on how each team figures to perform in 2018.
2018 Team Odds on Winning AFC West
Here’s a look at each team’s odds of winning the West. Note that these GTBets odds are the available off and on until the start of the 2018 regular season:
- Denver +450
- Kansas City +245
- Los Angeles Chargers +140
- Oakland +375
2018 AFC West Team Previews
LA Chargers (+140)
It’s easy to see why San Diego is the favorite to win the West when considering the offseason moves they made. This includes adding G Forrest Lamp and ex-Dolphins center Mike Pouncey. Now, Philip Rivers should have more time in the pocket than he has had over the last few seasons.
One of the Bolts’ major weaknesses last season was stopping the run. They picked up former Seattle DT Brandon Mebane to help in this department. The pass rush certainly doesn’t need any help when considering that defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa combined for 23 sacks last season.
The secondary is yet another strength when accounting for corners Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams, along with first-round draft pick Derwin James.
San Diego’s 0-4 start last season was largely the result of poor field goal kicking. That said, they could easily be looking to defend a division title this season. Regardless, San Diego looks to be the favorites in the West.
Kansas City Chiefs (+245)
This could lead to plenty of big plays when considering that the Chiefs have weapons like TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill, and RB Kareem Hunt. They also added receiver Sammy Watkins in the offseason.
Defensively, coordinator Bob Sutton prefers a bend-but-don’t-break approach. The team rarely stacks the box so that they can prevent deep plays.
Of course, there will be fewer deep plays available for opponents when considering that All-Pro safety Eric Berry is back after an Achilles injury. They also added CB Kendall Fuller to make up for the loss of trading away Marcus Peters.
Coach Andy Reid has gone 16-2 against division opponents over the last three years. It’s difficult to see the Chiefs keeping up with this same win rate in 2018. But they definitely have enough talent to compete for the AFC West title, or at least a Wild Card berth.
Oakland Raiders (+375)
Jon Gruden was finally lured out of the booth with a $100 million contract set for 10 years. It’s a good thing that he has a long-term contract, because the team won’t be great in the short-term.
Quarterback Derek Carr is a legitimate franchise player, but he’s going to need more help. Amari Cooper had a terrible 2017 season that included many drops and struggles against press coverage.
Jordy Nelson needs a career revival to succeed in 2018. Martavis Bryant has talent, but doesn’t always give a consistent effort. Running back Marshawn Lynch showed flashes of his old self last season. However, Lynch is getting older and will be on limited touches.
Oakland will lean heavily on All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack to steady this defense. He and fellow linebacker Bruce Irvin combined for 18.5 sacks last year.
The rest of the front seven is lacking and doesn’t do a great job of rushing the quarterback or stopping runs. This young secondary could also use some work, although 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley will provide a boost after playing just two games last year.
Gruden is stepping back onto the sidelines after nine seasons out of the coaching game. He doesn’t have a complete roster to make his return a smashing success. The hope is that stars like Mack and Carr can carry this team until the rest of the roster catches up.
Denver Broncos (+450)
That said, it’s no wonder why they brought in former Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum to right the ship.
He’s coming off a career year and stands a good chance of success in Denver when considering that they have star receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The only problem for both the pass and run game is that the offensive line is subpar.
Defensively, CB Aqib Talib is gone, but Chris Harris and Bradley Roby should do an adequate job of taking his place. Harris is especially notable since he held opponents to only 26 yards receiving per game.
The defense is going to be very good again after holding teams to a league-best 3.3 yards per carry. They also drafted defensive end Bradley Chubb with the fifth overall pick. Chubb and All-Pro linebacker Von Miller will make for a great pass rush.
The Broncos have one of the league’s best defenses, although they didn’t always play consistently last season. Perhaps they’ll benefit from Keenum under center and actually win some field position battles. Overall, though, the Broncos still look like the worst team in a tough division.