AFC West Odds 2018 – Previews & Betting Analysis

philip-rivers-chargersThe San Diego Chargers are many experts’ top pick to win the AFC West. They feature longtime franchise QB Philip Rivers along with a strong pass rush.

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)

joey-bosa-chargersThe Chargers closed out last season strong after a dismal 0-4 start. They finished 9-7 and second place in the division.

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)

Last year, Kansas City featured a conservative and highly efficient offense under quarterback Alex Smith. This season could be the opposite, because Mahomes is a far more aggressive passer.

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-raiders-give-back-moneyJon 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)

von-miller-broncosDenver’s struggles in 2017 started and ended with the quarterback. All three QB’s on their roster started games and ultimately failed.

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.

Chiefs Odds: Eric Berry Out for Season – Impact on Kansas City

eric-berry-injuryThe Kansas City Chiefs had a bittersweet week. They won an opening road game against New England 42-27. But they also lost All-Pro safety Eric Berry for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Berry is quite possibly the game’s best safety, and he’s also a major locker room leader.

“You’re not going to replace Eric Berry with another Eric Berry. That’s not what happens,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid told ESPN via conference call. “But the guys know that Eric would be disappointed if they left off the accelerator at all. I think we’ll be OK there.”

Berry has been placed on injured reserve and will rehab so he can be ready for next season.

The injury occurred while the Chiefs player was covering Rob Gronkwoski on a passing route. Berry had nearly shut down Gronkwoski, who only had 33 yards on two catches. But Berry’s huge game came with a price as he came up hobbling on a fourth-quarter play.

He sat on the turf while the training staff attended to him. Berry didn’t look to be in excruciating pain. However, it was obvious the injury was serious when he was carted off.

Not the First Major Injury for Berry or the Chiefs

eric-berry-touchdownEric Berry is no stranger to serious injuries. He missed the majority of 2011 after tearing the ACL in his left knee. He also missed 10 games in 2014 after being diagnosed and treated for lymphoma. Berry played all 16 contests the following year after both incidents.

Kansas City has had some bad luck with notable injuries in recent years. This includes two injuries to star linebacker Derrick Johnson. Luckily, Johnson returned this summer and has been a full participant ever since.

But now KC must find a way to replace Berry, who is coming off his best season. He tallied 77 tackles, four interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns in 2016. Berry was dominant in a victory over the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. And he was a huge reason why the team finished 12-4 and won the AFC West title.

His play last year earned him a 6-year, $78 million deal in the offseason. Berry is now the highest paid safety in the league.

“I’m on a bit of a low right now,” said Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. “I love him to death. He’s our fearless leader, and to see him go down in the first game breaks your heart.”

Berry will still Play a Locker Room Role

eric-berry-chiefsEric Berry may not take the field any more in 2017. But head coach Andy Reid expects the safety to have a prominent role on the team.

Reid believes that Berry’s presence in the locker room will be important.

As for Thursday night’s victory over New England, Reid had to rally his troops and make sure they finished the game strong.

“He had an opportunity to talk to the team last night after the game,” explained Reid. “And I know he’d be very disappointed if anybody hung their head or let that be an issue.

“And I thought the guys handled it very well after Eric got hurt. Our guys were able to kind of muster it up and keep the emotional football part of it in focus there.”

How will Chiefs Replace Berry?

andy-reid-chiefsKansas City benefited from playing a Thursday night game. They now have extra time to find a replacement option before they face Philadelphia on Sept. 17.

Reid is confident that general manager Brett Veach will pour time into the waiver wire in search of candidates.

“Brett’s keeping his eyes open for [other safeties] right now. That’s what he does,” Reid said. “He’s always on top of that. We’re just kind of seeing the different options there.”

In-team options include Eric Murray, who filled in for Berry to finish the game. Daniel Sorensen, who plays multiple roles for the Chiefs, can also help man the position.

Free agent options include Jairus Byrd and Rashad Johnson. The latter had a good career with the Arizona Cardinals. But Johnson played poorly with Tennessee in 2016.

Byrd was one of the league’s top safeties with the Buffalo Bills from 2009-13. But he was often injured after signing a huge contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Chiefs Odds following Berry Injury

As Sports Illustrated points out, nobody the Chiefs pick up is going to fill the production and leadership of Berry.

Not only can he match up with an elite talent like Gronkowski, but he can also provide direction in the locker room too.

That said, Kansas City will take a hit in the odds department in future games. Below you can see their odds of winning the 2017/18 Super Bowl, AFC title, and AFC West:

  • Chiefs odds to win Super Bowl = +1600
  • Chiefs odds to win AFC Championship = +800
  • Chiefs odds to win AFC West = +170

Kansas City still has solid odds to win without Berry. And they have talent, including Johnson, shutdown corner Marcus Peters, receiver Tyreke Hill, and rookie running back Kareem Hunt.

But they’ll definitely have a tougher road from here on without Berry in the lineup.