AFC West Betting Breakdown: Fade Chiefs At Your Own Risk - Prediction Machine

AFC West Betting Breakdown: Fade Chiefs At Your Own Risk

AFC West Betting Breakdown

AFC West Betting Preview

One year ago, the AFC West was the division to keep an eye on.

The Broncos had just added Russell Wilson, the Raiders had just tied the knot with Davante Adams, and the Chargers paired Khalil Mack with Joey Bosa. Some pundits expected regression from the Chiefs’ offense after losing Tyreek Hill to Miami. 

It was going to be “must-see TV” they said. Until it wasn’t. The Broncos and Raiders let bullish bettors down faster than a broken amusement park ride, and the Chargers made the playoffs despite only getting 6 combined sacks after Week 1 from Mack and Bosa.

It’s becoming “Death, taxes, and a Chiefs division title” in Kansas City as the Chiefs captured their seventh consecutive AFC West crown. Considering the parity in the NFL, it’s a remarkable run. The Chiefs are 42-6 vs. division foes since 2015 and 11-1 the last two seasons, with the lone loss vs. the Chargers (Week 3 of 2021).

Kansas City has notched at least 12 wins in the last five seasons (and most of those were with 16 game schedules) so betting them under 11.5 wins seems to be spitting in the face of history (not to mention Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid). That said, I’m always weary of betting the “Over” on high season win totals because an injury or two can derail things quickly. For this reason, I’m not betting the Chiefs’ season win total, but I lean toward the over. The Chiefs are -160 to win the division and history says that’s a safe bet.

Team Win Division Win Total Make Playoffs Miss Playoffs
Kansas City Chiefs -160 11.5 -550 +390
Los Angeles Chargers +300 9.5 -105 -115
Denver Broncos +550 8.5 +195 -240
Las Vegas Raiders +1200 7.5 +360 -500

The rest of the division is tricky to handicap because of unknown factors. For instance, how healthy is Jimmy Garoppolo’s foot and will he be the Week 1 starter? Will we see the Russell Wilson of old, or Denver’s generic version who ranked 27th in QBR last year? Can the Chargers’ injury prone stars like Mike Williams, Joey Bosa and Keenan Allen stay healthy?

Because of the uncertainty with these three teams, I’d rather bet the alternate season win totals (and get plus money) instead of the standard lines. My thinking is, because there is such a high ceiling for these teams (if things go well with the questions above) and such a low floor (if those questions haunt them) I’d rather get paid plus-money prices if I’m taking such a big risk.

Wilson showed some improvement as the season went on, but was inconsistent enough to leave doubt. For instance, Wilson supporters could hang their hat on Wilson’s 100+ rating in 3 of his last five games, but his 3 INT performance Week 15 vs. the Rams was hideous. Wilson has taken a lot of hits over his career and turns 35 this season, so it’s possible we’re witnessing an abrupt decline. That said, the massive head coach upgrade (from Nathaniel Hackett to Sean Payton) should help a lot.

The Chargers’ 2022 season ended in excruciating fashion with a historic 27-0 blown lead to the Jaguars. Despite making the playoffs, L.A. was 2-4 in the AFC West last season and they’ve not added many exciting pieces since 2022. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore (from Dallas) is perhaps the newest reason for optimism in L.A.

If the Raiders are to surprise people, they’ll need to firm up the defense, especially in a division with Justin Herbert and Mahomes. Chandler Jones disappointed in his first season in Las Vegas (4.5 sacks) but on a line with Maxx Crosby and No. 7 overall pick Tyree Wilson, that unit has serious potential.


Considering the MVP is almost always won by a QB, and considering only about 10-12 QBs have a realistic path to winning, the MVP market is always fun to handicap. Justin Herbert (+1100) and Patrick Mahomes (+550) are both viable choices and if I had to choose between those two wagers, I’d take Herbert.

Mahomes is the reigning MVP, but only 5 QBs have ever won the award in back-to-back seasons (Peyton Manning did it twice). It almost seems like voters would rather give this award to a new player vs. a guy who already won it.

I’m not betting Herbert or Mahomes here because I’m instead betting Aaron Rodgers. To read why, check out our AFC East preview.

Player Odds
Patrick Mahomes - QB, KC +550
Justin Herbert - QB, LAC +1100
Russell Wilson - QB, DEN +4000
Jimmy Garoppolo - QB, LV +8000

Coach of the Year

If Brandon Staley hits on a high percentage of his 4th down attempts and it leads to Chargers wins, then you could see the media falling in love with him and votes coming his way. However, I like Sean Payton here at +1200. He’s had time away from football to clear his head and if Russell Wilson can turn things around, he’ll get all the credit.

Voters don’t like giving the award to coaches like Andy Reid who are expected to do well, so Denver’s struggles last season play into the hands of Payton ticket holders.

Coach Odds
Sean Payton - DEN +1200
Brandon Staley - LAC +2000
Josh McDaniels - LV +2500
Andy Reid - KC +4000


Chargers rookie WR Quentin Johnston comes to the NFL with durability concerns, let’s hope he doesn’t take any conditioning advice from teammates Keenan Allen or Mike Williams who are regulars with the training staff.

With Allen and Williams often hurt, and an MVP threat at QB in Justin Herbert, Johnston couldn’t ask for a better path to success. While 1st round QBs are a threat to this award, the +2000 odds are juicy enough for me here.

Player Odds
Quentin Johnston - WR, LAC +2000
Rashee Rice - WR, KC +4000
Michael Mayer - TE, LV +5000
Marvin Mims - WR, DEN +6600
Aidan O'Connell - QB, LV +8000


This award historically favors pass rushers and I think you’re getting a generous bargain on Joey Bosa (+4500) coming off an injury-plagued season. You know Joey would like to make it back-to-back DPOY awards for his family as brother Nick won last season. Joey has historically skipped OTAs to work out with his brother and this season he was present for the start of the voluntary period.

Maxx Crosby at +1200 is tempting but he’s on a Raiders team which may be playing from behind a lot, decreasing his pass rush attempts. 

Player Odds
Maxx Crosby - DE, LV +1200
Chris Jones - DT, KC +3300
Joey Bosa - DE, LAC +4500
Patrick Surtain II - CB, DEN +5000
Derwin James - S, LAC +6600
Justin Simmons - S, DEN +10000