Chargers Picked For Title Run
The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos have won the last eight titles in the American Football Conference’s West Division, but neither team is the favorite this season.
Many believe the time is now for the Los Angeles Chargers (+150) as veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, 36, leads the most talented team he’s played with in his 15-year career (odds provided by TopBet).
The Chargers’ schedule ranks the 24th hardest out of 32 teams in the league, which includes two games in prime time and one in London, England, in Week 7.
The Chargers were one of four AFC teams at 9-7 last season, but they were the one of two franchises to miss the playoffs based on tiebreakers. They have not played a postseason game since 2013.
Betting Numbers For The AFC West
- Denver (+400)
The Broncos, who were 5-11 last season, finished fourth and last in the division. They are +400 (or 4-1 odds) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 money line wager on the Broncos will return a $400 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $500.
Using the 4-1 odds as an example, a $20 bet on the Broncos would return 20 times 4 plus the original bet for a return of $100 ($80 profit + $20 bet = $100 return).
- Los Angeles Chargers (+150)
The Chargers, who were 9-7 last season, finished second in the division. They are +150 (3-2) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Chargers will return a $150 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $250.
- Kansas City (+275)
The Chiefs, who were 10-6 last season, finished first and won their second division title. They are +275 (11-4 odds) to repeat as division champs this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Chiefs will return a $275 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $375.
- Oakland (+285)
The Raiders, who were 6-10 last season, finished third in the division. They are +285 (almost 3-1) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Raiders will return a $285 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $385.
It’s Time To Pick A Divisional Winner
Denver (Last title: 2015)
The Broncos are coming off their worst season since they went 4-12 in 2010. The following year, they were 8-8. They have missed the playoffs since they won the Super Bowl in 2015.
Denver went the free agency route to try and fix the QB problem, but Case Keenum is hardly the answer. The 30-year-old had a career year with Minnesota last season, but the Vikings have a well-balanced offense and good offensive line. The Broncos do not.
The Broncos nabbed defensive star Bradley Chubb with the fifth overall draft pick, but defense hasn’t been Denver’s problem. Just five NFL teams scored fewer points than the Broncos, and management did little in the offseason to fix that problem.
Los Angeles Chargers (Last title: 2009)
The Chargers have made the playoffs only once in the last eight seasons, but oddsmakers have them pegged as the favorites to capture the AFC West title.
Los Angeles finished fifth in the AFC with a +83 point differential last season. They are led by veteran QB Philip Rivers and the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL. Any improvement in the running game will make the Chargers even more dangerous.
The Chargers are also packed with stars on defense, starting with Pro Bowl rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
This could be their year, but the Chargers need to quit missing game-winning field goals and eliminate untimely miscues.
Kansas City (Last title: 2017)
The Chiefs earned a playoff spot in four of the five seasons with Alex Smith as their starting quarterback. A new era begins this year with Texas Tech standout Patrick Mahomes behind center.
There will be no learning curve for the second-year QB either. In the first six games, the Chiefs will play four road games, with the Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh and New England among those opponents. Welcome to the NFL, Patrick.
The Chiefs, who have won the AFC West the last two seasons, have revamped an aging defense. There are many changes on the line and secondary. If this unit can keep K.C. in games, Mahomes has a lot of dynamic weapons to do some damage.
Oakland (Last title: 2002)
The Raiders, who have not won this division in 15 years, are betting big on Jon Gruden. Oakland signed the former head coach to a 10-year, $100-million deal in the offseason. And the message is the same as it’s always been with this team: “Just win baby.”
But the Raiders have been doing a lot of gambling lately, not only on their coach but also on a move southeast in 2020 to Las Vegas, just off the iconic Strip behind Mandalay Bay.
While the Raiders have been making a lot of noise off the field, they need to start making some on it. After a promising 12-4 season in 2016, the Raiders crashed to 6-10. Gruden must find a way to get Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch playing dynamic football again.
VGB’s pick — Oakland (+285). The Raiders are one of three teams in transition in this division, but Gruden has a host of talented players. He can right this ship.