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Breaking down the odds to win the AFC West ahead of free agency

This division seems like a two horse race yet agin in 2022.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC West division crown is largely decided in the minds of football fans already, as most everybody expects the reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, to win it all again. Still, they play the games for a reason and anything can happen over the course of a 17-game regular season. 2022 will bring new coaches and new players to the division, too.

Free agency will produce considerably player movement as always, some teams will look largely the same. The published divisional odds from DraftKings Sportsbook provide a deeper look into the perceived hierarchy of each division and how much upside certain teams have within them.

Kansas City Chiefs: -175

I mean, they have Patrick Mahomes, so it’s a pretty safe bet they’re going to be near the top of the division race yet again. Even without a star quarterback, the team has stars all over the place on offense with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

They got some studs on defense too with and ranked 8th in the NFL in total defense a year ago. The defense held the team together during the start of 2021 too, as the offense really struggled to get anything going throughout much of the first couple of months of the campaign. Still, even with the slow start they only lost one game to a divisional foe all year.

As long as they can avoid a slow start again, this one could be wrapped up before it begins.

Los Angeles Chargers: +450

The Chargers have a superstar in the making under center with Justin Herbert. He very nearly got the team into the playoffs seemingly all by himself. But the group totally collapsed down the stretch, losing three of their final four games to miss the postseason.

They’re going to need to upgrade along the offensive line and in the receiving corps. But where they really need to improve is on defense. The run defense was awful a year ago, giving up well over 100 yards in all but five games. The defense as a whole ranked 29th in the league and will need to get better quickly in Brandon Staley’s second season at the helm.

Denver Broncos: +450

Denver still doesn’t have a quarterback, which is going to be the team’s biggest issue. There’s a lot of faith surrounding this team after finishing dead last in the division a year ago. There’s certainly a ton of talent around the team, with pass catchers Jerry Jeudy, who missed a lot of last season with an injury, Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. But they need to find the person to throw them the ball.

There’s some speculation about the Broncos making a play for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, which would certainly be exciting and would move them right to the front of the division in terms of being a favorite. But right now, especially with a new head coach in Nathaniel Hackett,

Las Vegas Raiders: +900

The Raiders were a playoff team a year ago, falling in the Wild Card round to the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. But the whole time it felt like Vegas was succeeding in spite of itself. Jon Gruden was forced to resign as coach early in the season and Rich Bisaccia took over as interim, going 7-5 over the last 12 games of the year.

But he was kicked to the curb in favor of Josh McDaniels, whose previous stint as a head coach was less than stellar in Denver. He’ll inherit a roster with some talent on offense with Derek Carr, Hunter Renfroe and Darren Waller. But that’s not much compared to what the other heavy hitters in the division have.

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