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NFL Futures: Best Bets to Win the AFC West (2020)

by May 18, 2020

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With the 2020 NFL schedule now released, we can now start to dive into NFL season props such as divisional winners. The AFC West divisional race seems pretty cut and dry, but the question remains as to which team, if any, provides the best value. Value in this respect is formed through a combination of the probability of a certain choice clicking, and the odds attached to the different team choices. Kansas City is the obvious favorite to win the division, but at -390 are they still the best value? Let’s find out. 

*You can find consensus odds from all major sportsbooks for AFC West winners using the BettingPros consensus odds page.

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AFC West Division Winner Odds

Kansas City Chiefs (-390)
Los Angeles Chargers (+700)
Denver Broncos (+1100)
Las Vegas Raiders (+1200)

*Odds courtesy of FanDuel sportsbook.

Kansas City Chiefs (-390)
It is extremely rare for a Super Bowl Champion to remain relatively intact after winning the big game. However, that is what we see with the Chiefs in 2020. Their one major loss was cornerback Kendall Fuller who signed with Washington in free agency. With Patrick Mahomes still on his rookie deal, and no extension signing bonus to eat up some cap, the Chiefs were able to bring the majority of their contributors back into the fold. They also lost Emmanuel Ogbah, but with Dee Ford ready to take on a larger role this season, Ogbah’s departure will barely be felt. The Chiefs upgraded at linebacker and running back, and threw enough draft capital and UDFA dollars at the cornerback position that there should be a starter in the bunch (likely L’Jarius Sneed). 

-390 at FanDuel for the Chiefs to win the AFC West is tantamount to free money. While we will stop short of guaranteeing a free pick, this is about as close as it gets. The only way Kansas City does not win the division is if Patrick Mahomes misses six-plus games of the season, and even then one of Chad Henne, Jordan Ta’amu, or Shea Patterson should be able to show that they can at least move the offense. While we would be picking the Chiefs in almost any division, the AFC West makes it easier.

The Los Angeles Chargers are in a transition year with Tyrod Taylor under center. Their defense has the makings of a special unit, but anyone who thinks Tyrod Taylor can lead the Chargers to anything but the newly created wildcard spot is in for a rude awakening. Denver is a promising and exciting team but has enough holes in the secondary to be unable to stop a team like Kansas City head to head. The Las Vegas Raiders are going to surprise most of the NFL community, but they still will not be good enough to rack up more wins than the defending Super Bowl Champions. These odds should be closer to the -455 this line stands at in one of our partner books.

Los Angeles Chargers (+700)
I honestly have no clue how the Los Angeles Chargers landed the second-best odds to win the AFC West on FanDuel. With that being said, they are not the only book with the Chargers second. Perhaps I am in the minority in my thinking that Tyrod Taylor under center is going to be a detriment to the Chargers chances of making the playoffs, never mind winning the division. 

Can the Chargers make the playoffs? Sure. Will they have a better record than the Kansas City Chiefs? Not a chance. The expanded playoffs mean a team with a record of .500 or worse is likely to make the playoffs in the AFC every season, so the postseason is a realistic possibility for Los Angeles. +700 odds suggest that the Chargers have a 12.5 percent implied probability of winning the division. The true number is likely something closer to five percent. Five percent would call for +1900 odds. Even if you like the Chargers as a dark horse, longshot bet, there is still zero value in the line as posted. Other books have this line higher, so perhaps some sharp action dropped the number down at FanDuel. Whatever the case, this is a future to avoid at all costs. 

Denver Broncos (+1100)
The Denver Broncos made some exciting moves on the offensive side of the ball during the 2020 NFL Draft. They now have the makings of a high powered offense. However, they did not do enough to address the holes in their secondary to be true contenders to win the division. They may finish with a better record than the Los Angeles Chargers, but finishing with a better record than the Kansas City Chiefs is a little far fetched, at least for 2020. They seem to be following the Chiefs lead by loading up on enough offensive talent so as to allow them to simply outscore opponents rather than worrying about limiting opponent’s points per game. Their front seven is still talented enough to make them a playoff team, especially with the expanded playoffs, but it is likely going to take another draft class for Denver to get the reinforcements they need to challenge for the AFC West divisional crown.

Las Vegas Raiders (+1200)
The Las Vegas Raiders are poised to be the surprise team of the AFC. They have filled all of their major holes, and are a sound bet to eclipse the 7.5 win total they are listed at on FanDuel. They have made impact additions on both sides of the ball, and now have the makings of a complete team. They will need rookie Damon Arnette and sophomore Travyon Mullen to step up at cornerback, but both players have the talent and scheme fit to succeed in Las Vegas. The Raiders made sure to bring in some insurance for their young corners and signed Prince Amukamara as a veteran depth piece and potential stopgap starter. Las Vegas could very well crack the double-digit win barrier, but a 10-6, or even 11-5 record is likely not going to be enough to win the AFC West. The Chiefs remain out of the Raiders’ reach record-wise for 2020, but they could begin to make it a three-horse race as soon as 2021.

Conclusion
The Kansas City Chiefs are the runaway favorites to win the AFC West. -390 is not ideal and is the highest juice on any divisional winner, but it is for good reason. When one takes into account that the team with the best 2019 record in the Baltimore Ravens sit at just -200 at FanDuel, that should clue us in to how high of a probability that Vegas is assigning to the Chiefs to take the AFC West. As posited above, there will likely need to be a significant injury to Patrick Mahomes for there to be any chance of the Chiefs not winning the division. This fact alone makes it worth suffering the juice to get a taste of this prop at -390. The odds should be between -567 and -900, meaning that there is value to be had until the line draws closer to that number. Lay as many units as you can stomach on this one, as this prop should pay out in time to help fund your Super Bowl wagers. 

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.

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