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Here is the 2021 Pro Football Betting Guide preview for the AFC West.
THE FAVORITE: KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
One team in this division is chasing a Super Bowl title, and the other three are in a race for second place. Kansas City is the odds-on favorite (-250) at DraftKings, and the Chiefs are probably not coming back to the pack as long as quarterback Patrick Mahomes stays healthy. The Chargers (9-2 odds), Broncos (6-1) and Raiders (22-1) are not exactly “The Three Stooges” in comparison with the dominant Chiefs, who finished 14-2 last year and won the AFC West by six games, the largest margin of any division in the league. An argument can be made that the gap is closing between Kansas City and the three contenders, with some evidence last season. Las Vegas, which finished second at 8-8, was a whisker from sweeping the Chiefs. Derek Carr and the Raiders won a 40-32 shootout in Kansas City. Mahomes and the Chiefs took the rematch 35-31 with a last-minute comeback in Las Vegas. The Chiefs needed overtime to defeat the Chargers 23-20 in Week 2 in Los Angeles. Justin Herbert and the Chargers won the rematch 38-21 in Week 17, when the score was a fluke because of Kansas City resting its starters. The Chiefs swept the Broncos, yet the December meeting was a six-point margin.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has not had much to sweat in division play the last five years while compiling a 26-4 record. Reid did have a lot of work to do in the offseason, however, after Kansas City’s offensive line was overrun by the Tampa Bay defense in a 31-9 Super Bowl embarrassment. Reid will open the season with five new starters on a much-improved line, so expect Mahomes to trigger another high-scoring attack that features wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Several sharp bettors are buying futures stock in the Chargers, mostly due to the potential Herbert displayed as a rookie when he passed for 4,336 yards, the sixth-highest total in the NFL, and 31 touchdowns. Denver is banking on its defense and hoping Drew Lock develops into a winning quarterback. Las Vegas appears to have made significant improvements to one of the league’s worst defenses, but if not, Carr has the weapons to lead an explosive offense. The clock is ticking on Raiders coach Jon Gruden to produce a playoff appearance.