AFC West Division Odds to Win
After turning heads in 2016, will the Raiders take the next step and win the AFC West Division in 2017?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Raiders are 17/10 favorites to win the AFC West Division this upcoming season. The Chiefs, who won the AFC West a year ago, are 2/1, followed by the Broncos at 16/5. The Chargers, meanwhile, are the intriguing long-shot at 5/1.
Oakland Raiders (17/10)
Armed with a new five-year, $125 million contract extension, Derek Carr heads into 2017 with high expectations to lead a talented Raiders team back to the playoffs. Had Carr not suffered a broken leg late in 2016, perhaps Oakland would have made a deep postseason run last year. The Raiders return a talented core on offense, featured by Carr, receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, as well as new running back Marshawn Lynch. Oakland also owns one of the best offensive lines in football. Defensively, Khalil Mack remains one of the premier pass-rushers in the league. The question is whether or not the defensive backfield will be a liability again in 2017. If not, the Raiders could be a serious Super Bowl contender.
Kansas City Chiefs (2/1)
The Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes to be the franchise quarterback, but the job remains Alex Smith's for 2017. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Spencer Ware all return to an offense that will once again be dangerous. Defensively, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Marcus Peters and Eric Berry form one of the more talented units in the AFC. The Chiefs might not receive as much attention nationally as the Raiders, but they're going to contend again this season.
Denver Broncos (16/5)
The Broncos will once again have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Derek Wolfe, Shane Ray, Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, Darian Stewart and Chris Harris all return, plus the team signed free agent Domata Peko to beef up the defensive line. The problem is on offense, and more specifically, at quarterback. If Trevor Siemian or second-year signal-caller Paxton Lynch don't provide more production than in 2016, then the Broncos will be nothing more than a fringe wild card contender. The talent is there, but the quarterback position will limit the Broncos.
San Diego Chargers (5/1)
The offseason story surrounding the Chargers centered on their move to Los Angeles. From an on-field standpoint, the team is likely to fly under the radar as a sleeper contender. If the Bolts competed in the AFC South, they probably win a division and host a playoff game. But because they're stuck in the ultra-competitive AFC West, it'll once again be difficult to punch their ticket into the postseason. That's not to suggest the Chargers aren't talented, because they are. Philip Rivers remains an elite quarterback and has a new weapon in first-round pick Mike Williams, who joins Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates. Defensively, Joey Bosa is a star on the rise and team has scattered talent on that side of the ball. Given how they'll play a last-place schedule, if the Chargers get a few breaks in 2017, don't be shocked if they're in position to win a wild card this upcoming season.