Even with their two starting quarterbacks from last season no longer available, the Broncos have opened the 2016 NFL odds and lines in most online sportsbooks as the betting favorites to win the AFC West title. Will the Broncos survive in the division without a steady quarterback, or does the absence of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler mean the end of Denver’s reign in the AFC West division? It’s too early to give a surefire bold prediction right now, but we will do our best to guide you on what to expect from the Broncos and the remaining members of the AFC West division in the preview below.
Let’s Take a Look at the 2016 AFC West Expert Picks
.@PaxtonLynch knows what to do to play right away — or push the vets in front of him
The Favorite Betting Pick To Win the AFC West: Denver Broncos (+140)
With five straight AFC West championships since 2011 and an absolutely rock-solid defense that compares to the best of the best in history books, the Broncos don’t need any motivation to prove that they are for real. After all, the majority of the betting public doubted them all year in 2015 and criticized their offense, yet they still managed to make plays all the way to the Super Bowl 50 Championship. That being said, it remains to be seen what Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch will bring to the table offensively. Truth-be- told, Sanchez has been an average QB at best while Lynch– though talented—looks a tad too green to be trusted in Denver’s offense. But then again, with offensive maestro Gary Wayne Kubiak to give the offense a sense of direction and an underrated Denver running game to support the passers, the Broncos may just end up lifting the AFC West title for the sixth straight year.
The Smartest Betting Pick To Win the AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs (+150)
I was tempted to have the Raiders as the smart pick here, but I remembered that the Chiefs are All The Way Up in their rebuilding agenda, going by their showcase in the second half of the season and their impressive cameo in the AFC playoffs. If Alex Smith can get just a little better in the offense and stop playing conservative football that often puts too much pressure on the defense, Kansas City could easily be the team to beat in the AFC West, if they aren’t that already. FYI, of all teams in this division, KC has the most balance, with the offense and defense both looking primed to rank in the top-10 in the league this year.
The Longshot Betting Pick To Win the AFC West: Oakland Raiders (+225)
This pick is barely a surprise to many of you. Matter of fact, I’d understand if you feel that the Raiders should be placed somewhere better than a longshot. The Derek Carr-led offense is filled with dependable pieces in the running game (see Pro Bowl running back Latavius Murray) and passing game (hello Amari Cooper and gang) while coach Jack Del Rio’s experience as a former linebacker in the NFL and a linebackers’ coach in Baltimore has seen Oakland’s defense get considerably better since he was hired in January 2015.
Despite all that, and the much-trumpeted splashy offseason by the Raiders, it takes more than just talent and good coaching to be a good team. Factors like motivation, experience and ability to cope with devastating injuries are just as important in the winning process, and last I checked, the Raiders don’t particularly ace these latter categories. So whereas I fully support the idea that Oakland is well-set for a breakout season and going above the .500 mark should be within strong realms of possibility, I’ll advise a cautious approach when it comes to picking the Raiders as potential AFC West winners, unless of course you are doing so on the sole ticket of them being solid longshots.
***Sorry San Diego fans, I’ve heard everything you’ve been saying about Philip Rivers being a top quarterback (and I fully agree with such observations), but with barely any improvements in your anemic defense, you won’t be finishing anywhere near the ceiling of this division.
2016 AFC West Predictions
With Denver adjusting to a new quarterback at the start of the season, I expect Kansas City to take full advantage of that and get an early lead that will eventually prove to be the difference when the Broncos settle down offensively in the second half of the season. Simply put, the Chiefs are therefore my winning pick for the division (most likely doing so with double-digits); with Denver finishing second (around 9 or 10 wins); Oakland coming a close third with 8 or 9 wins, and San Diego repeating as the cellar-dweller, though with one or two more wins than it recorded in its 4-win 2015 campaign.
My 2016 AFC West Winning Pick: Kansas City