Denver Broncos (2012: 13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS)
Odds to win division: -340
Season win total: 11.5
One could argue that Denver became the best team in the NFL last year as the season progressed. The Broncos were the favorites to reach the Super Bowl for the AFC, but they came up short in their thrilling overtime loss to the Ravens. This year, they play a ridiculously easy schedule, and in fact, it’s the easiest schedule in the NFL based on my projections. There’s no reason Denver can’t duplicate their 2012 results.
Denver won 13 games in 2012, but only two of those wins came against teams that made the playoffs. The Broncos went just 2-3 against teams that made the playoffs last season. QB Peyton Manning surprised many with how well he played after missing a full season because of neck surgery. It’s hard to imagine Manning repeating his 4,659 passing yards and his 37/11 TD/INT ratio. Denver may have a very good win/loss record, but they will certainly be overvalued in the pointspread often in 2013.
Kansas City Chiefs (2012: 2-14 SU, 5-11 ATS)
Odds to win division: +580
Season win total: 7.0
Expectations are low after a 2-14 season, but there’s a lot of upside for Kansas City in 2013. The Chiefs are desperate for a winning team so they made a big splash by making Andy Reid their new head coach and trading for QB Alex Smith. Kansas City’s defense will be under new coordinator Bob Sutton and he’s switching to a 3-4 scheme which fits the Chiefs’ personnel well.
We like the acquisition of QB Smith, but the Chiefs simply gave up way too much for him and the moves left their roster thin in key positions. HC Reid and new offensive coordinator Doug Pederson will run their West Coast scheme, but Reid has a tendency to forget about his running backs. Jamaal Charles is a solid runner, but he recently got hurt in camp, and if he’s not healthy, Smith and the Chiefs’ offense will struggle.
Oakland Raiders (2012: 4-12 SU, 5-11 ATS)
Odds to win division: +2200
Season win total: 5.5
Oakland is another team in transition, but at least they may be headed in a better direction. The Raiders acquired QB Matt Flynn from Seattle, and they have a new offensive coordinator, Greg Olson. He will be installing his downhill power-running game scheme to fit Darren McFadden. That will take a lot of pressure off Flynn which will make the Raiders’ offense more balanced and less predictable.
Despite the changes, Oakland will give Jacksonville a run for their money to garner the title of the worst team in the NFL. Their roster is not of a high quality, and they will be starting guys who do not belong in the NFL. Oakland’s four wins last season came by a combined 31 points, while their twelve losses came by a combined 184 points. The Raiders have serious holes on both sides of the ball, and aside from the QB and coaching changes, there is little that is positive for Oakland heading into the 2013 season. Expect the NFL odds to reflect this.
San Diego Chargers (2012: 7-9 SU, 7-9 ATS)
Odds to win division: +700
Season win total: 7.5
There’s a new coaching staff for San Diego and we think that is a positive. Norv Turner was a terrible head coach in San Diego, and he’s now running the Cleveland offense. Mike McCoy is the new head coach and he tabbed Ken Whisenhunt as his offensive coordinator. With the new voices and new schemes, we can see the Chargers bouncing back with a productive season.
However, San Diego’s biggest
issue is their offensive line which failed big time in their protection of QB
Philip Rivers last season. The line needs significant improvement, but
until we see it on the field, we cannot expect the Chargers to be any better
AFC West Prediction
The Denver Broncos should run-away with this division and the -340 price for our NFL picks might not be high enough, especially since Denver faces the easiest schedule in the league and the other three teams in this division are expected to finish below .500. One possible sleeper team is the Kansas City Chiefs who have made solid off-season moves and should go Over 7 wins.