AFC West Odds to Win
The Denver Broncos are the defending Super Bowl champions but they're currently sharing odds with a rival to win the AFC West this season.
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, both the Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs have +190 odds, respectively, to win the division in 2016-17. The Oakland Raiders aren't far behind at +250, while the San Diego Chargers have the longest odds to win the division at +650.
As of this writing, the Broncos and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller are still in discussions about a long-term contract. If the contract dispute isn't settled, then Denver could lose its top player from its 2015 title run. Thanks to the return of Derek Wolfe, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby, the defense has more than enough talent to contend. But Miller's unrivaled pass-rushing ability puts the unit over the top. Plus, with Peyton Manning now retired and Mark Sanchez ready to fill in before rookie Paxton Lynch takes over, the Broncos will be forced to once again rely on their defense this season if the team expects to make another deep postseason run.
As for the Chiefs, not much has changed for a team that qualified for the playoffs last year after rattling off 10-straight wins to close out the regular season (as well as beat the Texans in the wild card round before falling to the Patriots in the Divisional round). Alex Smith returns at quarterback and will have top targets Jeremy Maclin and tight end Travis Kelce back. Plus, Jamaal Charles returns after tearing his ACL in a Week 5 loss to the Bears. The biggest question facing Kansas City right now is the health status of pass-rusher Justin Houston, who will open training camp on the active/PUP list after underdog arthroscopic surgery to his left knee. He's already doubtful for Week 1 and if he opens the season on the reserve/PUP list, he'll miss the team's first six games. The defense was a huge reason why the Chiefs won 11 games a year ago and without Houston, it'll be difficult to repeat that feat.
The sleeper in the AFC West, if not the conference as a whole, are the Raiders. Derek Carr built off his impressive rookie campaign with another solid performance in his second season, plus has plenty of weapons to throw to in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Latavius Murray is a player on the rise as well and the team signed guard Kelechi Osemele, who was one of the prized free agents on the market. The defense boasts plenty of potential as well, thanks to 2014 first-rounder Khalil Mack, 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph, as well as free agent additions Bruce Irvin and Reggie Nelson. Given the situations with Miller in Denver and Houston in Kansas City, nobody should be sleeping on Oakland.
As for the Chargers, quarterback Philip Rivers returns, as does Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. San Diego also added Joey Bosa via the draft and Travis Benjamin in free agency, but youngsters Melvin Gordon, Jeremiah Attaochu, Denzel Perryman and Jason Verrett need to take significant leaps in their development if the Chargers are going to surprise this year. This team isn't without talent and they will be competitive. But competitive is a relative word, as eight wins might be the ceiling for the Chargers in 2016.
2016-17 AFC West Odds to Win
Denver Broncos +190
Kansas City Chiefs +190
Oakland Raiders +250
San Diego Chargers +650