AFC West betting preview: Chiefs and Chargers should be in for a battle
The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers look like they're in a heavyweight battle for the AFC West title. Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP.

The conventional wisdom around the NFL is that the AFC is the toughest division in the league. That makes sense when you've got Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert locking horns, Russell Wilson entering the fray and Las Vegas lurking as a fringe wild-card threat.

The latest: The Chiefs and Chargers are known quantities at this point, but the range of outcomes for the new-look Broncos is significant. The Raiders also look more capable than they did in 2021 with Josh McDaniels taking over as the head coach and Davante Adams infusing their receiver room with talent.

Here's our AFC West betting preview:

AFC West betting preview

Kansas City Chiefs

To win Super Bowl+1,000
To win AFC Championship+1,200
To win AFC West+170
Win Total (10.5)Over (-115) or Under (-106)
To make playoffs-215

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Odds as of 1:15 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team bet: Number of games won 12-14 (+175)

With the AFC West improving, and top wide receiver Tyreek Hill leaving town, fading the Chiefs will be popular in some circles. But this is a range they've finished in during every season of the Mahomes era.

Offseason additions JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling should help cushion the blow of Hill's departure, and head coach Andy Reid has a long track record of building elite offences without elite receivers from his time in Philadelphia.

We're happy to back the Mahomes-Reid combo until they lead us astray, and that hasn't happened yet.

Read more: Odds to win the AFC West

Best player bet: Travis Kelce over 1075.5 receiving yards (-118)

Kelce turns 33 this year, which is undoubtedly a concern, but he's cleared this bar in four straight years. He's also got an incredible track record of durability as he's played at least 15 games in every season since 2014.

The tight end's already-massive role in Kansas City's offence figures to grow this season with the departure of Hill, allowing him to ascend to clear-cut top target status as opposed to sharing that spotlight.

Mahomes should feed Kelce all year long, which would allow him to produce one of the best seasons of his Hall of Fame career.

O/U win total prediction: This line reflects an increasing pessimism about the Chiefs, and the more difficult circumstances they face this season.

While those concerns are valid, the foundation of this team remains intact, and the defence could even take a step forward if rookie defensive end George Karlaftis can solidify a defensive line that should be a strength if Chris Jones stays healthy.

Pick: Over 10.5 wins (-115)

Los Angeles Chargers

To win Super Bowl+1,500
To win AFC Championship+1,500
To win AFC West+225
Win Total (10.5)Over (+123) or Under (-150)
To make playoffs-177

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Odds as of 1:15 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team betTo win the AFC West (+225)

Understandably, the Chiefs remain the favourites for the AFC West title, but these are enticing odds considering the Chargers are a similarly talented squad.

The additions of Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson will provide a massive boost to a Brandon Staley-led defence that lacked the talent to execute his schemes last year.

This season, Staley should have an easier time replicating the success he had with the Rams in 2020.

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A Herbert-led offence combined with a much-improved defence could be enough to dethrone Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Best player bet: Justin Herbert over 4700.5 passing yards (-112)

While 4,701 yards may seem like a lot to ask for, it's just 276.5 per game for a player who's averaged 292.2 so far in his NFL career.

There's no reason to believe Herbert — arguably the NFL's greatest ascending talent at quarterback — is primed to take a step back, and his supporting cast hasn't declined going into his third season.

If anything, Herbert should be able to rely on better offensive line play thanks to the addition of first-round rookie Zion Johnson and further growth from second-year left tackle Rashawn Slater.

Playing in an AFC West division full of explosive offences should keep Herbert in more than his share of shootouts, incentivizing him to air it out.

O/U win total prediction: While it will be tough for this division to support two teams with 11-plus wins, the Chiefs and Chargers are just that special.

Herbert and the offence project to be electric and the new Mack-Jackson duo should help take the defence to another level.

Pick: Over 10.5 wins (+123)

Denver Broncos

To win Super Bowl+1,700
To win AFC Championship+1,800
To win AFC West+270
Win Total (10)Over (-110) or Under (-110)
To make playoffs-139

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Odds as of 1:15 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team bet: Division finishing position - third (+250)

Since we haven't seen Wilson outside the context of the Seahawks' conservative offence, it's hard to know what the offensive ceiling is for this team. That said, the 33-year-old is coming off arguably the worst year of his career, making it hard to put him on the same level as Mahomes and Herbert right now.

At the same time, Denver's roster appears to be a cut above the Raiders' group who made the playoffs last season with a downright fraudulent 10-7 record that was backed by a -65 point differential.

Read more: Odds to win NFL MVP

Dropping a franchise quarterback into a Broncos roster that already looks solid makes Denver a quality squad, but the team seems to be in a tier of its own in this division.

Best player bet: Courtland Sutton over 925.5 receiving yards (-112)

No player stands to benefit more from the Broncos' acquisition of Wilson than Sutton. The former Seahawk is among the NFL's best deep ball throwers and Sutton is Denver's best downfield threat.

The fifth-year receiver is coming off a rough season, but a new quarterback should invigorate him. Sutton already has a 1,112-yard season under his belt with a combination of Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Brandon Allen under centre. Expect him to set a career-high mark with Wilson.

Fellow receiver Tim Patrick's season-ending ACL injury also figures to open up more targets for Sutton, increasing his likelihood of clearing this line.

O/U win total prediction: With Wilson at the helm, Sutton and Jerry Jeudy catching passes, a dynamic running back and a defence led by Bradley Chubb and Patrick Surtain II, Denver could be a 10-win team in most divisions.

We don't see that happening in the AFC West. The teams at the top are just too good, and if the Broncos produce a sub-.500 divisional record, a season with double-digit wins will be exceedingly hard to come by.

Pick: Under 10 wins (-110)

Las Vegas Raiders

To win Super Bowl+4,000
To win AFC Championship+4,000
To win AFC West+650
Win Total (8.5)Over (-114) or Under (-107)
To make playoffs+185

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Odds as of 1:15 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team bet: Opponent for team's first win — Tennessee Titans (+550) 

Since there's not much value on the Raiders to finish dead last in the division (+120), this bet is an interesting play on the team's early schedule. Las Vegas starts its season playing at the Chargers, which seems very likely to be a loss.

The next game — the Cardinals at home — is more of a toss-up, but the value is minimal on that one (+150). If you're willing to bank on an 0-2 start, Las Vegas has a great shot to beat a Titans squad that is taking a step back this season with the departure of top playmaker A.J. Brown.

If you treat this bet like a three-game parlay, the odds are relatively generous.

Best player bet: Josh Jacobs over 800.5 yards (-112)

This bet appears to be purely a wager on Jacobs' health. The fourth-year running back has eclipsed this total in each of his NFL seasons, normally by a comfortable margin.

If he doesn't miss a significant amount of games (something he's never done in his NFL career) he should do so again — especially since his primary competition in the backfield is Kenyan Drake, who managed just 254 rushing yards in 12 games last season.

Josh McDaniels has shown a willingness to run the ball at a high rate during his recent seasons, as the New England Patriots rushed for over 2,100 yards each of the last two years.

As long as Jacobs remains Las Vegas' lead back, this shouldn't be a difficult standard for him to meet.

Read more: Odds to win the Super Bowl

O/U win total prediction: Like the Broncos, the Raiders would have much better luck in another division. Derek Carr is an underrated passer with excellent weapons in Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Maxx Crosby heads up a respectable — if unspectacular — defence.

This might be an NFC playoff team, but considering they've got a real chance to go 0-6 within the division, it's hard to recommend a bet on their over, even though it's a relatively modest one.

Pick: Under 8.5 wins (-107)

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