Our NFL preview series continues as USAbetting takes an in-depth look at the AFC West, home to defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
In 2019-20, led by veteran head coach Andy Reid and face of the NFL Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs won their second title and the first came 50 years prior. Returning to the championship game for the first time since, the Chiefs finally accomplished a result fitting of their regular season success over the last few years.
Kansas City has won the AFC West for the last five years and with little major departures from their Super Bowl roster, the Chiefs seem poised to repeat. That is not just as division winners either as Kansas City are currently co-favorites with the foremost U.S. online betting sites alongside the Baltimore Ravens, to win the championship in February 2021.
Favorites by a wide margin to capture their sixth straight AFC West crown, do the Chiefs foresee any level of competition next season? Or will it be smooth-sailing on their way back to the playoffs and perhaps, back to the Super Bowl? Let’s take a look at how the AFC West might shake out in 2020-21.
Kansas City Chiefs
+600 to Win the Super Bowl with Bovada; +300 for AFC; -400 to Win the AFC West
Entering the 2020-21 season, the Chiefs are big favorites with the sportsbooks to win the division. In fact, the lead Kansas City has over their next closest opponent, the Denver Broncos, represents the largest such lead of any NFL team to win its division. That’s how good the Chiefs are expected to be as they enter this season riding the biggest high.
Reid finally got his ring and Mahomes established himself as the new class of QB in the NFL. While those two were the biggest beneficiaries of the title win, Kansas City was very much a sum of all its parts. Offensively, the team boasted weapons at top skill positions with guys like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Running back was their weakest spot but the Chiefs used the draft to find their man there, adding the versatile Clyde Edwards-Helaire with their first-round pick. Helaire joins a backfield full of depth as Super Bowl standout Damian Williams and DeAndre Washington will likely share the load of carries with the exciting rookie. All in all, if there was one area the Chiefs could improve on, they did.
It is hard to imagine a scenario where the Chiefs, who very well could be looking at a season of 12-14 wins, don’t manage to dismantle the rest of the AFC West. The rest of the teams in this division just aren’t in Kansas City’s league. This preview will still run down the squads competing for the crown but our money is firmly with Big Red and his championship caliber team. The Chiefs may be the NFL’s next dynasty so it’s easy money, even if it’s not much of a payoff, to pick the Chiefs to win the division as well as to see them win the AFC Championship. The latter, at +300 with Bovada, may be where the value bet lies. Another Super Bowl is not out of the question. If any team is in the right place to do it, it is the Chiefs.
+5000 to Win the Super Bowl; +500 AFC; +800 AFC West
After the Chiefs, it’s pretty much a toss-up as to which team is the next best in the division with the Broncos slightly edging out their competition by the slimmest of margins. Denver had a huge draft, taking advantage of their 10 picks in order to bolster their struggling team from last year and provide Drew Lock with the weapons he’ll need to find long term success with the Broncos.
The team used much of the draft to load up offensively, grabbing key skill players and college standouts in wide receivers, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler with their first two picks. They also grabbed tons of help on the offensive line, all likely to keep Loc upright this season.
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb lead on the defensive side of the ball and there is nothing bad about that. Denver’s defense is poised to play really strong in 2020-21 and will help the team be competitive as they look to see Lock’s development continue. Denver isn’t that far removed from their own Super Bowl aspirations and while 2020 won’t be that year, the Broncos made big strides this offseason in getting closer to being able to contend among the best in the not-so-distant future.
Los Angeles Chargers
+4000 Super Bowl; +2000 AFC; +900 AFC West
The Chargers should have won more games than they did last year as the team fell victim to some absolutely fluky losses as well as bad mistakes brought on by their own issues. They’ll be hoping for better in 2020-21, but Los Angeles is still a ways away from contending.
Their biggest offseason move was moving on from Philip Rivers, who had been with the team for over a decade. Rivers led the Chargers to some strong seasons but playoff success never followed and entering this season, LA made the tough but likely right choice to move on from the veteran. As such, the Chargers, in possession of a top 10 pick in the draft, got their man in Justin Herbert. 2020-21 will be a development year for Herbert but the Chargers are hopeful they can continue to build around the Oregon product in the years to come.
The rebuild won’t happen overnight but the Chargers are hoping that they can accomplish with Herbert what they never could quite with Rivers. They will need to put some more weapons around the young QB as well as make significant strides on defense, but they’ll have every opportunity to do so by building through the draft. LA won’t win a lot of games this year but they will hopefully start to see the seeds of their rebuild fall into place.
Las Vegas Raiders
+5000 Super Bowl; +2500 AFC; +1000 AFC West
The most exciting thing Raiders fans will have to look forward to in 2020-21 is a brand-new city and state-of-the-art stadium that they may not even get a chance to enter this season. Even so, it’s going to be an exciting year for the Raiders as they trade in their Oakland roots for Sin City.
The move to Vegas is one that should have long term implications and eventual benefits but the Raiders won’t see those this year. The team is still in the midst of their own rebuild and once again used a strong draft to put pieces into place as part of that endeavor. Las Vegas grabbed Henry Ruggs III with their first pick and used two of their next three to grab additional wide receivers. For the first time in a long time, the team has weapons and they are hoping this will make a difference for their QB, whether it be Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota who wins the job this season.
Josh Jacobs will be a thrill to watch as will all the new receiving threats. Defensively, Las Vegas still has a long road ahead of them but their ceiling in 2020-21 is actually pretty good with double digit wins a possibility. The Raiders surprised in such a way last year and almost made the playoffs before a late season slump doomed those hopes. Might the same happen this year or will the Raiders continue to make positive steps forward in their first season in Vegas? Only time will tell but right now, the Raiders have to feel good about their chances to be the surprise story of the year once again.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.