AFC West Odds: Betting the Exact Order Following Free Agency
AFC West Odds: Betting the Final Order Following Free Agency
The league-wide free agent and trade frenzy probably isn't over, but as the dust settles and the calendar dives further into April, the month of the draft, it's come time to do some preliminary evaluations around where teams stand. This is not only the case for overall power rankings, either.
The race is all the way on for this year's division chases, and as a result, DraftKings went ahead and dropped betting odds on how each of the eight divisions could shake out. Odds are listed for each of the exact scenarios, listing the division winner at the top through the last-place finisher in fourth.
Let's dive into the wild, wild AFC West and decipher what oddsmakers are thinking and where value can be had.
Top 5 Scenarios of AFC West Odds After Free Agency
|Odds||AFC West Exact Order|
|+750||1st KC Chiefs/2nd DEN Broncos/3rd LA Chargers/4th LV Raiders|
|+750||1st KC Chiefs/2nd LA Chargers/3rd DEN Broncos/4th LV Raiders|
|+850||1st DEN Broncos/2nd KC Chiefs/3rd LA Chargers/4th LV Raiders|
|+900||1st LA Chargers/2nd KC Chiefs/3rd DEN Broncos/4th LV Raiders|
|+1100||1st DEN Broncos/2nd LA Chargers/3rd KC Chiefs/4th LV Raiders|
|+1100||1st LA Chargers/2nd DEN Broncos/3rd KC Chiefs/4th LV Raiders|
Even after a number of massive moves, and even more, since we last visited this topic, the Chiefs lay claim to the top of the division in the oddsmakers' eyes. They are favored to lead the way in the top two scenarios, and at +160 odds, they are given the edge to win the West for the sixth straight year and fourth straight since Patrick Mahomes took over under center. Their over/under for wins is set at 10.5 (-115 on the over) to the Broncos' and Chargers' 10.
Denver's more likely to eclipse (-125) 10 wins than fall short (+105) of them, according to the odds. And in the broader scope of things, they're +250 for the division, +850 for the conference, and +1600 to win a Super Bowl in Russell Wilson's first year there. But they're not alone in their request to topple Andy Reid and the mighty Chiefs.
DraftKings also lists the Bolts at an even 10 wins, but with -120 on the over and +100 on the under, so expectations are certainly high. That's so much the case that they -- like Denver -- are +1600 to hoist the Lombardi. For that reason, the Chargers are essentially interchangeable with the Broncos as the 2B to Denver's 2A behind Kansas City.
Because of the strength of the top three, the Raiders are a somewhat distant fourth across the board. They are +3500 for the championship and +2000 for the AFC title, whereas in the division they are projected at 8.5 wins with even odds on both ends. Ultimately, they are +600 to surprise the three other squads and win the West division, and they show up last among them in the six most likely scenarios above.
Should Las Vegas be totally relegated to chaser, though? Could they leap one or two teams? What about the sequence of the favored top three? This is a division with razor-thin margins, which for betting purposes, just means there is value to be capitalized on when betting the division finish.
AFC West Exact Order Value After Free Agency
|Odds||AFC West Exact Order|
|+2800||1st LA Chargers/2nd LV Raiders/3rd KC Chiefs/4th DEN Broncos|
It's impossible to say that any team has done more than the Chargers this offseason. Unlike their divisional foes, they've held on to their big-money wideout in Mike Williams. They also added on the defensive side of the ball where they went out and acquired Pro Bowl edge rusher Khalil Mack and lockdown corner J.C. Jackson. Their defense could be all kinds of scary with those two complementing Joey Bosa and Derwin James. And they have even more opportunity to build with the 17th overall pick, which could be more defensive help if mock drafts are any indication. Mind you, this is all on the heels of a 9-8 season in which Justin Herbert threw for more than 5,000 yards and 38 touchdowns, while the offense and defense ranked 4th and 26th, respectively. If the defense lives up to its name opposing teams are going to have problems, and the rest of the division is going to fall behind as the season progresses.
As for the high-paid receivers thing, the Raiders know all about it. They took advantage of the Packers' situation and decision to pay Aaron Rodgers and got the elite receiver they have been starving for. It cost them a first-round pick this year and much more (not to mention a massive contract extension for the 29-year-old), but the Derek Carr to Adams connection has been renewed and could pay dividends. Elsewhere, Vegas lost a few smaller free agents only to add to the defense with Chandler Jones on the outside opposite Maxx Crosby. It's no wonder we've seen their odds shorten over the span of a month and a half. Since March 2nd, their odds have gone from +800 for the division, to +1100 on March 16th and +600 where they are today. Something has got to give, and it might just result in a sneaky second-place finish and a playoff spot.
If that's the case, then that means? Yeah -- let's just say that a lot has gone down in the city they call KCMO. While the Chiefs locked down Patrick Mahomes on a major deal back in 2020 (those guarantees only start to kick in this year), they've since had to do some maneuvering for cap purposes, and one of the recent casualties is speedy receiver Tyreek Hill. The three-time All-Pro was sent to the Dolphins for a number of picks, and while those picks could result in younger talent on the outside, it remains to be seen what Kansas City will do with it. If they bring more speed back and can parlay another pick into a good defender, they could vie for the top two spots without a doubt. For now, though, and considering the odds, the Chargers and Raiders just seem more promising -- heck, even likely -- to take the Chiefs from their perch.
As if the division wasn't loaded with quarterback talent already, Denver really kickstarted this offseason back on March 8th when they dealt for Russell Wilson to become the new face of the franchise and Broncos offense. Since then, they've made a few minor moves, but one of those was stealing Randy Gregory from the Cowboys. D.J. Jones should also make a difference upfront for what figures to be a top-10 defense for Denver (they were 20th last year). Still, there are questions to be answered about the consistency of that defense and an offensive line that rated 19th, according to PFF, by season's end. If they come out of the gate well, you could be nervous about betting them to finish fourth, but the value of doing so seems too good.
This is a tantalizing bet given the thin margin for error the preseason win totals and division odds point to. A lot could be shaken up in a stretch of a few divisional games, so talking yourself into a little chaos could pay off in this instance. After all, at +2800 odds, you'd be getting a return of $2,800 for every $100 you lay down. That's a positive difference of more than $2,000 over the two highest-favored scenarios. Can you say, "All in"?
Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.