Plain and simple, the AFC West is going to be a lot of fun this year. Starting with Kansas City and its electric offense and trickling down to Denver and the Los Angeles Chargers, who have intriguing offenses of their own. We'll see what Las Vegas can do, even though I think the Raiders have massive issues, especially on defense. The Chiefs probably should win this thing once again, but we'll see if someone can challenge Andy Reid's bunch. Let's take a look at the season win totals and see if there's any value.
2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Denver Broncos (Over 8.5 -110...Under 8.5 -110)
Division Champion Odds: +900
Offense: Teddy Bridgewater won the job during the preseason and provides a veteran presence to this young group. Bridgewater doesn't make a ton of mistakes, but doesn't really do a ton of flashy things. One has to wonder how quick he'll get pulled for Drew Lock if struggles ensue. The backfield will be led by veteran Melvin Gordon III and rookie Javonte Williams out of North Carolina, both how the carries will be distributed is anyone's guess. The WR room has a ton of potential with Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick, who had to step up when Courtland Sutton went down with a torn ACL. Add in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam at tight end and there's a lot of potential here.
Defense: The secondary has been remodeled, with free agents Kyle Fuller (Chicago) and Ronald Darby (Washington) replacing A.J. Bouye, who signed with Carolina. The Broncos also drafted Pat Surtain II in the first round, and he'll be eased into things. I really like safeties Justin Simmons, who got paid this offseason, and Kareem Jackson. The front seven will rely heavily on Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, who should be fresh after missing the 2020 campaign. We'll see if the inside linebacker pair of Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell can hold up because it could be a weakness.
Schedule Notes: Denver starts the season on the East Coast at the Giants and Jaguars but then gets five of the next eight at home before the bye. After the week off, the Broncos have five divisional games over a seven-week stretch, including a pair against the Chiefs.
Prediction: I love the over for the Broncos. I'm a huge fan of their offense and think that if their defense stays healthy, they'll be very good too. This team could earn double-digit wins.
Related: Denver Broncos Depth Chart
Kansas City Chiefs (Over 12.5 +120...Under 12.5 -140)
Division Champion Odds: -290
Offense: The one "weakness" on this side of the ball was the offensive line, but four new players should shore up the unit with the trade for Orlando Brown Jr. to go along with the FA signing of Joe Thuney from New England and the drafting of Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. Improved line play means even more for Patrick Mahomes, whom we are running out of superlatives to use to describe. The skill-position groups made modest changes, with Jerick McKinnon joining the backfield after Damien Williams went to Chicago. Sammy Watkins left for Baltimore, meaning it could finally be Mecole Hardman Jr.'s time to shine. There's no reason to think this won't be the best offense in the league once again.
Defense: The defense did enough when it had to but also couldn't make stops against the Bucs in the Super Bowl. They allowed a league-worst 76.6 percent of the red zone possessions against them to turn into touchdowns. Defensive lineman Jarran Reed was the only addition to this side of the ball of any substance besides cornerback Mike Hughes. The front seven should get pressure from the edges with Chris Jones and Frank Clark. Nick Bolton, the team's second-round pick, should bolster the linebacking corps, but I'm concerned about the team's corners a little bit.
Schedule Notes: This schedule is ridiculously tough for the Chiefs. They do alternate home and road games over the first six weeks of the season and then get a home-friendly stretch before the Week 12 bye. They have tough road trips to Baltimore and Tennessee to contend with in the first two months of the season. Three of their final four are on the road, including divisional matches against Denver and the Chargers.
Prediction: Lean to the under, but not at that price. There's a path for 13 wins, but I don't trust their defense.
Related: Kansas City Chiefs Depth Chart
Las Vegas Raiders (Over 7 -110...Under 7 -110)
Division Champion Odds: +1300
Offense: Last year, Derek Carr threw for 4,103 yards with 27 touchdown passes to nine interceptions. His leading receiver was Darren Waller, who caught 107 balls at the tight end position. Waller is atop the scouting reports once again, as the rest of the weapons at WR are mediocre. Bryan Edwards got a lot of attention during training camp and he'll be a complementary piece to Henry Ruggs III, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, and Willie Snead IV. Josh Jacobs is a solid NFL running back, but his biggest issue is that he doesn't catch enough passes out of the backfield. Kenyan Drake is an intriguing backup who Jon Gruden will definitely find ways to use.
Defense: The defense is where the problems lie on this team. The front line could be an issue, although Yannick Ngakoue could be a nice addition. Unfortunately, Clelin Ferrell has struggled and hasn't lived up to the expectations placed on him when he got drafted too high. The linebackers are mediocre, while the secondary needs some work too. Drafting Trevon Moehrig in Round 2 is a big help at safety, as he'll pair off nicely with Johnathan Abram. Signing Casey Hayward Jr. away from the Chargers could be a nice boost too.
Schedule Notes: The Raiders are on "Monday Night Football" two times in the first four weeks of the season as they finally get to show off their new stadium with fans in it. They alternate home and road contests until their Week 8 bye. Las Vegas faces the Cowboys on Thanksgiving as part of a stretch of three road games over four weeks, with the other away contests coming at Kansas City and Cleveland.
Prediction: I like the under with the Raiders. I'm just not a believer in this team. That defense will not be very good.
Related: Las Vegas Raiders Depth Chart
Los Angeles Chargers (Over 9.5 +110...Under 9.5 -135)
Division Champion Odds: +490
Offense: Joe Lombardi hopes to bring over some of the Saints' offense with him as the new coordinator on Brandon Staley's staff. Justin Herbert threw for an impressive 4,338 yards with 31 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in almost 600 attempts, and he just had a normal offseason to improve on any weaknesses. Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Joshua Kelley are the same trio in the backfield from last year. The loss of tight end Hunter Henry is a big one, although Jared Cook is not a bad veteran to have in his place. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are the leading receivers, with Jalen Guyton at No. 3 after he took some steps in 2020. The offensive line got a boost from first-round pick Rashawn Slater, who will start at tackle.
Defense: Derwin James Jr. has to stay healthy for this side of the ball to succeed. He's such a difference-maker when it comes to blitzing and patrolling the secondary. You could tell the difference last year without him. The secondary also got a boost in second-round pick Asante Samuel Jr., who could end up starting at cornerback opposite Chris Harris Jr. Of course, a lot of the success starts with Joey Bosa and a fierce defensive line. Staley's defense figures to be a lot more aggressive with a slight alteration to two safeties instead of a zone defense.
Schedule Notes: Before the early bye week, the Chargers have road trips to DC, KC, and Baltimore, all of which could be really tough. They have three of four at home after the bye, including hosting Pittsburgh and New England. Three of the final five contests are in LA as well, so there are some friendly stretches for the Chargers.
Prediction: I see about 9-10 wins, so no play here.
Related: Los Angeles Chargers Depth Chart