NFL Divisional Futures – AFC West – Manning helps Denver open as the favorite in the AFC West
Trying to predict the top team in the AFC West the past two seasons has been anyone’s guess with Kansas City winning the division in 2010 and Denver taking top honors last season at 8-8. This year should be more of the same as all four teams believe they have what it takes to win in what has become the wild,wild, west.
The following is a brief look at all four teams in the AFC West along with their current odds as provided by BetDSI to win this season’s division title.
Denver Broncos +170
Denver made it to the playoffs last season behind the last-minute heroics of Tim Tebow, but in an effort to add a bit more stability to the quarterback position, team president John Elway went out and landed this offseason’s biggest free agent, future ‘Hall of Famer’ Peyton Manning. All indications point to a complete return to form for the All-Pro signal-caller after missing all of last season recovering from a neck injury that required multiple surgeries. If this is indeed the case, the Broncos should waltz to their second-straight division title with 10 or 11 wins. While Denver’s defense is not spectacular, it is solid enough to keep it in every game it plays and Manning will automatically make everyone better on the offensive side of the ball.
San Diego Chargers +180
For a good part of the last decade it was a given that San Diego would be favored to win this division. It now heads into the 2012 season just looking to get back to the postseason after missing the playoffs the past two years. This team should remain competitive as long as Philip Rivers lines-up behind center, however many of the other key components that led to all those winning seasons are gone. The Chargers actually find themselves in somewhat of a rebuilding process, especially on defense after finishing last season ranked 22nd in points allowed and 20th against the run. So much so, that head coach Norv Turner used his first three picks in this year’s college draft on defensive players including first-round selection Melvin Ingram at defensive end.
Kansas City Chiefs +350
Kansas City won just four games in 2009, but turned things around with a 10-6 record and West title in 2010. It back-slid last season to 7-9, but was plagued with some devastating injuries to key personnel. Quarterback Matt Cassel is back and running back Jamaal Charles remains confident he can return to form after tearing-up his knee last September. The one thing clearly on the Chiefs’ side heading into this season is youth. They are the only team in the NFL that does not have a single player on its current roster over the age of 30, which is pretty amazing when you think of it. Given the current odds for all four of these teams, the best value lies with Kansas City.
Oakland Raiders +500
Oakland finds itself at a crossroads heading into the 2012 regular season after failing to qualify for the playoffs for the ninth-straight year. The Raiders have not posted a winning season since 2002, but have gone 8-8 the past two years. If they are going to finally take that big step forward, then it is going to need a very productive year from Carson Palmer. The former Cincinnati quarterback was thrust into the starting role last season and had trouble shaking off the rust, but he has now had an entire offseason to adjust to his new surroundings. New Oakland head coach Dennis Allen is also going to have to focus his efforts on fixing a defense that finished near the bottom of the league last season in several major categories.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.