The AFC West seems like the most lopsided division in the NFL. Who is going to beat out the Chargers for the division title? The Broncos probably have the best shot, but there are many uncertainties surrounding the team.
The Raiders had a great draft and finally got rid of JaMarcus Russel, but they are not ready to compete for the division title yet. The Chiefs just don’t have what it takes to end up on top the AFC West.
Here is a look at the odds to win the AFC West in 2010:
All Odds Taken From Bodog and Bookmaker, be sure to shop around for the best price.
San Diego Chargers (-333)
The Chargers have won the AFC West four years in a row and they will win it a fifth time. Phillip Rivers is the key to their offense, and the quarterback knows how to deliver. He threw for a career-high 4,254 yards in 2009. He didn’t only show off his big arm, as his accuracy was excellent too. He had a 65.2 completion percentage and threw for 28 touchdowns. He was picked off only nine times.
Rivers has a strong receiving corps to throw the ball to. Number 1 receiver Vincent Jackson had nine touchdowns on 68 catches and 1,167 yards. Tight end Antonio Gates had 79 receptions for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns. Darren Sproles got involved in the passing game as well, catching 45 passes out of the backfield.
However, Jackson might face a two to four game suspension for driving with a suspended license and is threatening to hold out and looking for a trade, after he didn’t receive the long-time contract offer from San Diego he has hoped for. Malcom Floyd, last year’s No.2 receiver might have to step up, if the team and Jackson don’t work things out. Floyd showed some promise last season with 45 catches, 776 yards, and one touchdown.
With LaDainian Tomlinson gone, rookie running back Ryan Mathews will most likely get the bulk of the carries. Darren Sproles will remain a change-of-pace back who can do some damage in the passing game as well.
The Chargers are hoping for Shawne Merriman to bounce back on defense. He was slowed down by his knee injury last season and had only four sacks. He should be in better shape this year, but it is unclear if he can ever return to his old form.
Defense will be the biggest concern for San Diego, but the rest of the division isn’t strong enough to take advantage of it
Denver Broncos (+600)
The Broncos and promising young head coach Josh McDaniels. Their draft strategy was questionable at best, and they picked up Demaryius Thomas at 22 and Tim Tebow at 27. It is unclear when Tebow will start, but McDaniels is planning on using him as quarterback. Thomas isn’t the best route runner and had some problems holding on to the ball.
The Broncos had a terrific start to the 2009 season and went 6-0 out of the gates. They completely fell apart afterwards and finished the season 8-8. They got rid of locker-room cancer Brandon Marshall and added an upstanding person in Tebow.
However, with Marshall they lose their biggest weapon at wide receiver, and Thomas is nowhere near as talented as Marshall. Eddie Royal has shown some promise, but his production went down from 980 yards and five touchdowns in 2008 to 345 touchdowns and zero touchdowns in 2009.
On top of that, the Broncos lost Tony Scheffler to the Detroit Lions. While Scheffler wasn’t a big factor in McDaniel’s system, he still caught 31 passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns.
Knowshon Moreno is an extremely talented running back, but his production went down late in the 2009 season. Backup Correll Buckhalter is getting older and is injury prone. Moreno will have to show that he can carry the load consistently for an entire season.
Left tackle Ryan Clady had a great rookie season, but his production suffered after McDaniels changed the zone-blocking scheme to a more traditional power-blocking scheme. After he gave up only 0.5 sacks as a rookie in 2008, he was responsible for eight sacks and eight penalties last year.
The defense was solid last year, and not much change was needed. The Broncos added some depth through draft and free agency, but they should be OK on defense. If everything comes together, the team can be dangerous, but there are too many uncertainties
Oakland Raiders (+700)
The Raiders surprised in the draft and are having a great offseason. They drafted inside linebacker Rolando McClain who could have an immediate impact on Oakland’s defense. They added defensive tackle Lamarr Houston at 44 and look much improved on the defensive side of the ball.
They filled a need at left tackle when they drafted Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell. The Raiders also picked up cornerback Walter McFadden in the fifth round. They definitely filled their needs on defense, and with DE with Richard Seymour re-signing with the team, they look good.
For the firs time in years the Raiders have a solid starter at quarterback. They traded for Jason Campbell and cut JaMarcus Russel. Campbell should improve their passing game dramatically and will help the receivers put up better numbers. Darrius Heyward-Bey has shown some promise, but he has to prove that he can be a solid receiver. Chaz Schilens is a solid receiver, and Zach Miller is one of the top tight ends in the league.
The Raiders should see an improvement in their running game, as Darren McFadden will most likely be replaced by Michael Bush. The latter outperformed McFadden and Justin Fargas last season, averaging 4.8 yards per carry despite a struggling line.
The Raiders have made a big step in the right direction. Depending on how everything plays out in Denver, they might be able to challenge the Broncos for second place in the AFC West.
Kansas City Chiefs (+750)
The Chiefs need a better quarterback than Matt Cassel if they want to be in contention for the division title. Cassel’s solid numbers in New England came thanks to a great team and a brilliant head coach.
Coaching is the second biggest problem for the Chiefs. First-year head coach Todd Hailey screamed at his players more than he tried to coach them, and his tough coaching style had an adverse effect. He made some glaring mistakes in his decision making, and he won’t lead the team to a division title.
The Chiefs have a weak offensive line and failed to address this need in the offseason. They did draft guard Jon Asamoah at 68, but still lack a good left tackle.
They improved their defense by drafting safety Eric Berry and cornerback Javier Arenas, but they still have major issues on the defensive side of the ball. They don’t have the personnel to create pressure on the opposing quarterback. They are still missing a solid rush linebacker, a good defensive end, and a number one option at inside linebacker.
When they made Scott Pioli General Manager, the Chiefs were hoping his experience working in New England would help them turn their team around. However, so far it looks like they are moving in the wrong direction.