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2014 AFC West Division Preview – NFL Handicapping Odds

Handicapping The AFC West

2014 AFC West Preview – There’s Denver and Everyone Else

With the NFL draft a distant memory and mandatory mini-camps underway, it is time to get down to some business and start talking about the teams that will emerge this year and challenge for the Super Bowl when the weather turns cold and we are all longing for the weather that we are having now.

The AFC West may be the easiest division in football to prognosticate – unless an injury to Peyton Manning sinks the Broncos, there is absolutely no way Denver doesn’t win yet another AFC West crown. Let’s just say for argument sake that something crazy DOES happen in Denver.

Is there another team poised to take advantage? Let’s take a look.

Denver Broncos

Broncos Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX: 13/2
Broncos Odds to win the 2015 AFC Conference: 9/4
Broncos Odds to Win the 2014 AFC West: -275
Broncos Odds from Sportsbook.ag

Nobody will accuse the Denver management of being content with a runner-up finish in last year’ Super Bowl – that’s for sure! In the offseason all the Broncos did was fill two enormous areas of need – on defense with the addition of the terrific DeMarcus Ware and arguably one of the three or four the best corners in the game Aqib Talib.

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But with the success from last year comes a much tougher schedule – the always tough divisional games may be the easiest part of the Broncos slate! Denver will have to play each of the NFC West teams once this year to go along with games against New England and Cincinnati. All in all Denver has nine teams that made the playoffs in 2013 on the schedule, has three prime-time games and has an enormous target on their backs!

Denver’s schedule threatens to slow them down a tad this year but there is no doubting who the class of the AFC West is. While we can’t really expect the offense to continue their record setting pace, we can expect Denver to walk away with the AFC West and seriously challenge for the AFC crown and the Super Bowl.

Denver is a more complete team than they were last year – scary to say the least!

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX: 40/1
Chiefs Odds to win the 2015 AFC Conference: 18/1
Chiefs Odds to Win the 2014 AFC West: +500
Chiefs Odds from Sportsbook.ag

The Chiefs were the surprise team of the NFL last season – they won’t catch anyone off guard this year! Andy Reid and Alex Smith completely turned the franchise around – from 2-14 to 11-5 in one year! Amazing. But the 2013 schedule was a relative cake-walk – they won’t be playing a last place schedule this year!
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Despite the success last year KC has gone through a few key offseason changes – most importantly the departure of three of five starting O-linemen and spark plug Dexter McCluster. The team failed to do much in the draft and still has enormous question mark in the receiving corp. outside of a questionable Dwayne Bowe.

At least there is still Jamaal Charles!

KC is a team most likely to take a step backward this year. It is hard to imagine Alex Smith duplicating his numbers from last year and there is far too much competition within their own division (Denver AND San Diego).

Don’t be surprised to see Kansas City finish third in the division this year – winning the AFC West and even qualifying for the playoffs could be a stretch, at least on paper.

San Diego Chargers

Chargers Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX: 40/1
Chargers Odds to win the 2015 AFC Conference: 18/1
Chargers Odds to Win the 2014 AFC West: +550
Chargers Odds from Sportsbook.ag

Perhaps the most intriguing team in the AFC West this upcoming season is the Chargers who went on an uncharacteristic December run, qualified for the postseason and upset the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs last year.

The Chargers have the benefit of a relatively easy first third of the season – if they win four of the six games out of the gate they could be in good shape at the end of the season! Philip Rivers looks reborn under Coach Mike McCoy and 2013 breakout start Keenan Allen threatens to take the next step toward NFL stardom.

San Diego’s defense was solid last year and should be better this year and the offense took a step forward last year meaning they should be at least as good this year.

Although I don’t see anyone touching the Broncos this year, if one team were to do it – take the Chargers who will make the playoffs again this year and maybe post another first round upset.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX: 100/1
Raiders Odds to win the 2015 AFC Conference: 50/1
Raiders Odds to Win the 2014 AFC West: +1800
Raiders Odds from Sportsbook.ag

Ugh! The Raiders! Oakland brought in Matt Schaub as the answer to their long standing quarterback problems – ask the Houston Texans how that worked out for them! They also resigned the perennial injury prone running back disappointment Darren McFadden and brought in Maurice-Jones Drew who has clearly lost a step or two the last few seasons.

It all adds up to another lost season in Oakland.

The Raiders will have a tough schedule, just like the rest of the division, they will have to play the Chargers, the Broncos and the Chiefs two times and they have a total of nine games against teams that made the playoffs in 2013 – not good.

I suppose the Raiders defense could continue to shine and I guess Schaub and Jones-Drew could turn back the clock but the overall talent on this roster still leaves a lot to be desired.

Not much else to say but – enjoy your time in the basement of the AFC West…. again!

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About DaveB

Dave B has been a Fantasy Football writer for us for 10 years. A couch potato wannabe, Dave’s insights have been read by 10’s of people for years. He hope’s for world peace + global relaxation. Enjoy and remember only smoke things that are completely natural.