The AFC West Divisional Odds Race Is Tight

By Akiva Wienerkur   March 31, 2022 

The AFC West Divisional Odds Race Is Tight

Perhaps the most volatile set of NFL divisional odds this offseason finds its home in the suddenly stacked AFC West. This division has hosted six of the last nine AFC Championships, and landed a team in the conference title game 10 times since 2000. Following a flurry of offseason moves, the AFC West odds stand among the most tightly packed in the NFL. 

Each team in this division underwent significant change this offseason. The arms race in the AFC West saw a litany of Pro Bowlers join via trade and free agency. The division also saw some significant departures. 

All this volatility did a number on the futures odds for this set of squads, among others. The AFC East divisional odds moved thanks to blockbuster trade involving Kansas City Chiefs wideout Tyreek Hill, but despite that move by the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills remain the odds-on favorites there. Here’s a look at the AFC West odds ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. 

AFC West Odds

Team Best Odds
Kansas City Chiefs  +135 (BetMGM)
Los Angeles Chargers +240 (FanDuel)
Denver Broncos  +250 (DraftKings)
Las Vegas Raiders +600 (DraftKings)

A flurry of offseason moves in early March made the AFC West the most competitive division in the NFL top-to-bottom. No division sports a smaller odds window between the favorite and the team with the longest odds. The Chiefs have seen their AFC West odds slim from -175 to +160 at some sportsbooks in less than a month. All the trades with these teams have shifted the odds for the NFL Draft.

Three of the four teams in the AFC West are favored to make the 2022 NFL Playoffs, with the fourth team, Las Vegas, sporting reasonable odds to make the postseason as well. Following the NFL’s playoff expansion in 2020, it’s more likely that all four teams from a single division make the playoffs, but the chances of that happening remain long. Only twice in NFL history has an entire division made the playoffs. The NFC Central sent all four of its teams to the postseason in 1994-95 and 1997-98.

Chiefs Remain Frontrunners For AFC West Despite Major Changes 

Trending downward? Or down season? (If that's what you call it when you lose the AFC championship game ... even in the manner K.C. did.) We'll guess the former and wager a team with Patrick Mahomes under center will be fine in the long run.
Trending downward? Or down season? (If that’s what you call it when you lose the AFC championship game … even in the manner K.C. did.) We’ll guess the former and wager a team with Patrick Mahomes under center will be fine in the long run. Albert Cesare / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Kansas City Chiefs own the AFC West of late. KC’s won the last six divisional titles. The road to the Super Bowl has passed through Kansas City each of the last four seasons. Following Super Bowl 56, the Chiefs entered the offseason as the odds-on favorites (-175) for another division crown. But over the last month, KC’s seen their AFC West odds slim significantly. 

The main headline coming out of Kansas City this offseason dealt with the loss of All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs traded Hill to Miami for package of five draft picks over the next two seasons, and the Dolphins promptly made Hill the highest paid wide receiver in league history. Salary cap concerns facilitated this swap, as KC couldn’t justify paying Hill the bounty he sought. 

To replace Hill, the Chiefs signed a pair of veteran receivers in free agency, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The likely departure of Tyrann Mathieu in free agency led Kansas City to sign a pair of safeties as well, Deon Bush and Justin Reid. These additions, among others, helped stabilize the offseason. 

That said, the Chiefs have seen their AFC West slim as moves were made throughout the last month. After opening at -175, KC saw their odds narrow to -110 when the Broncos acquired Russell Wilson. Following the Chargers landing Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, KC lost their odds-on favorite status, going to +100. The Chiefs odds faded even more (+130) after the Raiders traded for Davante Adams. Their odds settled this week at +155 in some books after the Hill deal. 

While the Chiefs remain the likeliest winner of the AFC West, they’re no longer the presumptive favorites heading into the 2022 season. 

Chargers Shorten Their AFC West Odds After Shoring Up Defense

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers have not won the AFC West since 2009, when the franchise played in San Diego. They’ve only made two trips to the playoffs since then, with the last coming in 2018. The Chargers had a chance to make the postseason in 2021, but faltered down the stretch and saw their rivals, the Raiders, steal their spot in Week 18. 

LA’s failings last season came on defense, so it’s no surprise they concentrated their free agency focus on that side of the ball. The Chargers ranked 30th in scoring defense (27 points per game), 30th against the run (138.8 rushing yards per game), and finished in the bottom third of the league in sacks (35). 

To address these issues, the Chargers signed the top free agent cornerback, J.C. Jackson, and traded for one of the best pass-rushers in the game, Khalil Mack. They added a pair of defensive tackles in Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day to shore up the middle of their line. They didn’t disregard the offensive either, re-signing receiver Mike Williams and picking up tight end Gerald Everett.

Following the Super Bowl, most sportsbooks listed them second in the AFC West odds at +400. With Denver’s acquisition of Wilson, LA’s odds faded some (+425), but following their trade for Mack, the Chargers improved to +400. After the Chiefs shipped away Hill, and LA signed Jackson, the Chargers’ odds improved further, to +250 in many sports books. 

These days, FanDuel lists the Chargers’ AFC West odds at +240, with PointsBet and DraftKings at +250, and BetMGM at +270. 

Broncos’ Blockbuster Narrows the Race

The Denver Broncos last won the AFC West division in 2015. They went on to win Super Bowl 50 that year, but haven’t made it back to the postseason since. Denver’s now on their fourth different head coach since 2015, but now hope another former Super Bowl winner can bring them back to the promised land. 

The Broncos took a big spin on the quarterback carousel this offseason, landing Russell Wilson in a blockbuster trade in early March. Sure, they parted with plenty of draft picks, and a few promising prospects, but adding Wilson is a win-now move for Denver. They didn’t stop there though. The Broncos also brought on edge rusher Randy Gregory, linebacker Alex Singleton, and cornerback K’Waun Williams, improving an already formidable defense. 

The addition of Wilson helps even the scales between the offense and defense in Denver. Last season, the Broncos toiled in the bottom third of the NFL in scoring (19.7 points per game), passing (211.3 passing yards per game), and total offense (330.5 yards per game). Wilson can unlock the trio of talented Broncos receivers and aid the development of running back Javonte Williams. 

Denver opened the offseason at +450 in most sportsbooks. The Broncos’ potential to land Aaron Rodgers at the time was the reason their AFC West odds weren’t longer. Once the team landed Wilson, their odds improved to +240 for a time. They’ve hovered in that range at most sportsbooks ever since. DraftKings lists the Broncos at -150 to make the playoffs in 2022. 

 

Raiders Reel In An All-Pro to Keep Pace in the AFC West 

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) make a catch as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Tre Flowers (33) defends during the fourth quarter in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) make a catch as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Tre Flowers (33) defends during the fourth quarter in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders made a memorable run to the postseason in 2021, setting a new NFL record for most walk-off win in a season (6). Although they’d lost to the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders knew they needed to improve the roster for their new head coach, Josh McDaniels. Las Vegas sported one of the top passing attacks in the league, but ranked just 19th in scoring (20.7 points per game). The Raiders’ defense was middle of the pack in most metrics, but near the bottom in points allowed (24.5 points per game; 25th). 

To that end, Las Vegas landed one of the top pass-rushers on the market, signing for Cardinals edge Chandler Jones. The Raiders improved their secondary by adding cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Rock Ya-Sin. They strengthened the interior of their defensive line with defensive tackles Vernon Butler and Bilal Nichols.

But the Raiders sent shockwaves throughout the NFL when they traded for Packers’ All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. Las Vegas promptly signed him to a record-breaking contract extension (which has since been broken by Hill’s deal in Miami). Adams makes the Raiders offense even more formidable, adding a familiar face for quarterback Derek Carr. 

The Raiders haven’t won the AFC West title since 2002, when they played in Oakland. Following the Super Bowl, Las Vegas saw their AFC West odds start around +900 at most sportsbooks. Those odds faded from there, sliding all the way to +1100 after many of the moves by the other teams in their division. Once the Raiders added Adams their odds improved to +700. 

Approaching the 2022 NFL Draft, Las Vegas sees their AFC West odds at +600 with both BetMGM and DraftKings, +650 with PointsBet, and +700 with FanDuel. DraftKings gives the Raiders +160 odds to make the playoffs as a Wild Card. 

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