The true NFL offseason is officially upon us. Mandatory minicamp has come to a close and players from all 32 teams have gone their separate ways. Most players will get some vacation time in while continuing to work out in preparation for the return to training camp in late July. Once training camp arrives, the road to Super Bowl 54 begins in earnest.
Each year, sports bettors are able to wager on where they think each team will finish up in the win column. Sportsbooks release a number for a team’s win total and you can bet over or under that number. If you land on the number, it’s a push, or tie.
Below are win totals for the four teams in the AFC West. The number in parenthesis is the juice on the over and the under. For example, if you bet the over on 10.5 wins for the Chiefs, the payout is +130 (you bet $100 to win $130). If you bet the under, the payout is -150 (you bet $150 to win $100). That means the under is the favorite.
Sportsbooks are not predicting each team will win the number of games on the win total. Rather, they are setting a number so that they can get a similar amount of money on both sides of the wager. They do not want an extensive liability on one side or the other since then they would be relying on a specific outcome. With even money on both sides of a wager, the house will profit more often than not.
Now that roster overhauls are mostly complete and teams have finished up spring workouts, we took a few minutes to chat with our expert on the field sources for each team. They offered reasons why their team could end up over the win total and why their team could end up under the win total. The sites pay close attention to their teams and have more insight than your average national reporter.
Kansas City Chiefs: 10.5 (+130, -150) — Arrowhead Pride
Why over: Since Andy Reid took over for the 2013 season, the Kansas City Chiefs have averaged 10.8 wins per season, including three seasons of 11 or more wins over the last four. During two of those 11-plus-win seasons, Alex Smith was the starting quarterback. Now, it’s Patrick Mahomes’ team, and if the reigning MVP’s name alone doesn’t give you enough confidence, Travis Kelce is expected to be ready to go by training camp after offseason ankle surgery. Kelce has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of the last three seasons. When people think of the Chiefs, they think of a good offense and a lousy defense, but there is an argument to be made that the defense might be better in 2019: the Chiefs went through a complete scheme change under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and added safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Frank Clark to complement sack leader Chris Jones. If that trio can get the defense can get to average, 10.5 wins might be way low for Mahomes.
Why under: I think we can all agree that Patrick Mahomes’ numbers in 2019 were silly. 50 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards. I think we can also agree that although he’s no doubt arrived, the chances of repeating such wild numbers are slim (throwing for 50 touchdowns only happened twice before 2018). Mahomes is now without both running back Kareem Hunt and center Mitch Morse, and questions still surround Tyreek Hill as to whether he will be suspended for at least a portion of the season or released outright. Also, the Chiefs’ defense finished No. 31 in yards per game in 2019. It is hard to know what to expect with so many new players on that side of the football. Andy Reid has never finished with less than nine wins since coming to the Chiefs, but 10.5 wins, especially given the Chiefs’ schedule — they see the Bears, Colts and Patriots in addition to the AFC West — is a tall order.
Los Angeles Chargers: 9.5 (-140, +120) — Bolts From The Blue
Why over: The Chargers are only a few months removed from winning 12 games. They have retained all of their truly meaningful free agents. Then, in the 2019 NFL Draft, they somehow managed to luck into two of the best players at their respective positions — both at absolutely massive positions of need. Philip Rivers is another year older, granted, but he is coming off one of the better seasons of his entire career. The 2019 Chargers are simply a more talented squad than the 2018 Chargers and there is no reason to think they can’t win at least 10 games this season.
Why under: While the Chiefs might possibly take a small step back with the loss of Tyreek Hill, the division as a whole looks to have gotten tougher. The Raiders and Broncos are both going to be tougher outs than they were a season ago. The Chargers still don’t have a true home-field advantage and on top of that they will once again travel more than almost any other NFL team. That has to eventually take its toll. Philip Rivers has been remarkably healthy for his entire career, but he continues to age and the offensive line continues to be manned by the likes of Sam Tevi and Dan Feeney. The entire offense falls apart without Rivers (yes, even with Tyrod Taylor) and at some point one has to think the “injury luck” runs out. Finally, much of last season’s success came from a dominating defense and it is a rarity for defensive success to completely carry over from year to year. A tougher division schedule combined with a simple regression toward the mean easily sees the Chargers falling below double-digit victories.
Denver Broncos: 7 (-120, Even) — Mile High Report
Why over: The Broncos won six games with Case Keenum at quarterback and Vance Joseph at head coach. You have to think the combo of Joe Flacco and Vic Fangio nets an extra win or two. Plus, the Broncos got better through both free agency and a very highly graded draft class.
Why under: The biggest unknown is new Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello. If he is a bust, all the Broncos are left with are defensive play-callers to call an offense. That could end badly.
Oakland Raiders: 6 (-130, +110) — Silver & Black Pride
Why over: The only winning season the Raiders have had in the past 18 years was the season Derek Carr had the same offensive coordinator two consecutive seasons (2016). Carr also had the same top two receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. He also had arguably the best offensive line in football that season.
Carr will be entering the second season in Jon Gruden’s complex offense and Gruden made his top priority this free agency to make Trent Brown the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history. He will also have probably his best starting receivers of his career in Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams
Why under: The defense was historically bad last season. It still has no pass rush to speak of and drafted pass rushers often take a season to catch up to the NFL. Even Khalil Mack only had four sacks as a rookie.
Carr may be more comfortable in the offense, but he must be comfortable with his protection to play well. Both tackle spots were an issue and they might have solved one of them, while still not knowing if Kolton Miller is the answer. Carr also lost his top target Jared Cook in free agency and former All Pro guard Kelechi Osemele. It’s hard to know what to expect from this offensive line now — even though it’s hard to imagine them giving up 52 sacks as they did last season.