2008 San Diego Chargers AFC West Predictions May 27th, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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NFL Pro Football Futures Betting – San Diego Bolts or Dolts?
BetUS online sportsbook has posted its sports betting odds to win the Super Bowl, and features online sports gambling odds on each of the conferences as well as all eight divisions. One of those divisions is the AFC West, where the San Diego Chargers, who went to the conference championship game last season, are back to defend their crown. Will the Chargers survive all challenges? Let’s examine that case today.
First we list the online betting odds to win the AFC conference title and AFC West division, as they appear in BetUS Sportsbook:
BetUS NFL Futures Odds
To Win AFC West
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -300
Denver Broncos +400
Kansas City Chiefs +550
Oakland Raiders +750
To win the AFC Championship
New England Patriots +175
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS +450
Indianapolis Colts +500
Jacksonville Jaguars +900
Pittsburgh Steelers +1200
Cleveland Browns +1600
Tennessee Titans +2000
Denver Broncos +2000
Cincinnati Bengals +2200
Baltimore Ravens +2500
Houston Texans +3000
Buffalo Bills +4500
New York Jets +6000
Miami Dolphins +6600
Kansas City Chiefs +6600
Oakland Raiders +6000
San Diego went through an odd transition before the season, as the personal tension between Marty Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith forced Schottemheimer’s exit. Norv Turner, who was not a winner in previous tenures in Washington and Oakland, took over the head coaching reins and, after a rocky start, led his team to eleven wins and a division championship. Essentially the same group is back, and they have an opportunity to cut a swath through the AFC West, whose other members have noticeable holes.
LaDanian Tomlinson is back, which means plenty. And the acquisition of Chris Chambers from Miami during the season gave a little more potency to a passing attack that did not have much in the way of threatening wideouts. Antonio Gates is still one of the best tight ends in the business, and the offensive line ought to be good enough, and adds L.J. Shelton at right tackle this year. One of the things that will be interesting to watch is if Tomlinson, who drew a lot of criticism from insiders for sitting out much of the AFC title game with a “phantom” injury, stays healthy the whole year, because Michael Turner, one of the better backup running backs in the league, has departed for Atlanta.
Phillip Rivers may or may not be a question mark (which, by definition, makes him a question mark, I guess). While Tomlinson sat out in the critical game with New England, Rivers gallantly played that contest with a torn ligament, which compromised his effectiveness. He had surgery on it almost immediately afterward. Rivers can sometimes look like an All-Pro quarterback, but he still does not make good decisions all the time and is limited by his arm strength.
The defense had more takeaways than any other team in the NFL. And there are stars all around. The nose tackle, Jamal Williams, is a legitimate Pro Bowler. Shawne Merriman, an outside linebacker, puts pressure on quarterbacks, and if he continues to stay lean, he will continue to do so. Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie comprise a formidable duo at the corners, and first-round draft pick Antoine Cason will be in the rotation as well. This season safety Eric Weddle, a feisty alum of the University of Utah who is a great special teams players and backup, will likely step into a starting role.
San Diego is one of those teams that provide more than lip service to the special teams. Kicker Nate Kaeding and punter Mike Scifres are more than reliable. And Darren Sproles, who also functions as a backup running back, broke through with two kickoff returns for touchdowns. He’s a weapon.
When it was time to turn on the after-burners, the Chargers did just that, winning their last six regular season games, then scoring a victory at Indianapolis in the playoffs. They are a legit conference title contender, maybe the only one in this division. Denver should give chase for a while, but in the end, this year might be easier than last. San Diego, at +450, might not be as much of a value as the Colts, but they have a chance to unseat New England as champs of the AFC, which might make them worth a play.
JAY’S PREDICTION FOR 2008:
San Diego Chargers — 11-5, 1st, AFC West
(-300 to win division, +450 to win AFC, +750 to win Super Bowl in the Top Sportsbooks Super Bowl betting odds)
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