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Odds to Win the AFC West: Who’s Undervalued and Who’s a Ripoff?

Odds to win the 2018 AFC West

The draft has come and gone, the majority of difference-making free agents have been spoken for and football bettors are foaming at the mouth, waiting for training camps to open. While spread and totals betting is still a few months off, bettors can sink their teeth into some division futures betting. Perhaps the best value in division futures betting markets can be found in the AFC West with a team that made a big change at the sport’s most important position (no, I’m not talking about Gruden taking over the head coaching job in Las Vegas … I mean Oakland).

Here’s my thoughts on the odds to win the AFC West:

The best value in division futures betting?

There’s something off with the odds to win this division. Most notably, the Kansas City Chiefs (+325) find themselves tied with the Broncos for the worst odds, which makes them extremely undervalued. The Chiefs are coming off consecutive AFC West championships and they’ve dominated divisional opponents over the past two seasons, going 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS.

Given their recent domination of divisional opponents, Kansas City offers great value at +325.

The big question mark comes at the quarterback position where Patrick Mahomes — the owner of 35 career pass attempts — takes over for the super-steady, consistently above-average Alex Smith, who couldn’t get the team over the hump come playoff time. The sample size may be small, but many view Mahomes as a future Pro Bowl-level talent. The youngster certainly provides KC with a huge arm that Smith lacked, which should open up an already good offense and make it more dynamic.

Those inside the Chiefs organization clearly like what they see, so this looks like an upgrade. Now if only they could figure out how timeouts work.

Does Gruden really make the Raiders better?

Is Jon Gruden a good coach? Sure. Is he a great coach? Probably not. He has a regular-season win percentage of .540 to go along with a Super Bowl ring and four division championships in 11 seasons, but if you think he makes Oakland an immediate Super Bowl contender, you need to re-evaluate things as this team has a lot of work to do.

Winning the division might be a different story, though. In a division filled with so many question marks, +270 is a fair price when you consider they’re a year removed from a 12-win season. To win the division, Derek Carr will need to rebound after throwing seven more interceptions in 2017 vs 2016, which was a big reason for his QB rating dropping 10 points. If he does bounce back, expect them to be in the mix.

Can Los Angeles finally break through?

The Chargers were a fun team last season that many were rooting for down the stretch to make the playoffs, but it wasn’t to be. It was the fourth consecutive year that they didn’t qualify for the playoffs and oddsmakers opened them at +175 to win the AFC West, which I believe is a ripoff. There’s a lot of talent on this team, most notably on a defense that allowed the third-fewest points in the league, but they face a much stiffer schedule in 2018 than they did in 2017.

In no way am I writing this team off in 2018, I just don’t think they’re worthy of a futures bet at that price.

Is stability at QB the answer in Denver?

Life after Peyton Manning has not been kind to the Broncos and their inability to fill his shoes bit them in a big way in 2017, leading to a last-place finish in the division and a -93 point differential. The once-dominant defense also took a major step back, allowing 382 points, which was 85 more than in 2016.

The revolving door at quarterback will likely be slammed shut with Case Keenum taking over. After bouncing around the league for a few seasons, Keenum broke out in 2017 and led the Vikings to the NFC title game and he should be able to keep the Broncos in a lot more games than the laughingstocks they trotted out there in recent seasons.

The stability will help, but there’s no indication that the defense can return to the caliber it was when they won the Super Bowl. This team isn’t well-rounded enough and can’t be trusted after having a humiliating eight double-digit losses in 2017. Don’t waste your money.

Odds to win the 2018 AFC West
TeamOdds
Los Angeles Chargers+175
Oakland Raiders+270
Denver Broncos+325
Kansas City Chiefs+325

Odds as of June 6 at Bovada

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