The 2022 regular season is rocketing towards us, with training camps across the league set to open up in the coming days. As we look back on the offseason, no division has gone through an arms race quite like the AFC West.
Teams in this division were a part of a number of the biggest blockbuster trades that had gone on over the past few months. Davante Adams heading to Vegas, Khalil Mack joining the Chargers, and Russell Wilson beginning a new era in Denver are just some of the massive trades swung by those clubs. While the Chiefs were the lone team sending talent out the door -- via the Tyreek Hill trade to Miami -- they still have Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid running the show, so there are four teams with legit chances of making noise in the AFC this season.
How will all of these moves now impact the 2022 season? That's what we are here to try to figure out. Below, we're going to specifically be looking at the AFC West and its win total odds for the upcoming year and give our early leans.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
Kansas City Chiefs
Win total projection: 10.5 (Over -115, Under -105)
The Chiefs have arguably the toughest schedule in the NFL this coming season. When you look at their opponents' win total projections for 2022, it's the hardest in the league. If you look at it by their combined win percentage from 2021, it's tied for the fifth-hardest. While difficult, the Chiefs are among the Super Bowl favorites and will likely be favored in the majority of their games this season, so there is a path to the Over on this win total prop hitting.
Four of their first seven games are on the road, but they should be competitive in each of those contests. They won't have to worry about DeAndre Hopkins (PED suspension) when they open the season in Arizona, and it's conceivable that the Colts will still be working in Matt Ryan by the time they head to Indy in Week 3. A "Sunday Night Football" showdown in Tampa against the Buccaneers may be too difficult to pull out, but a Week 7 matchup in San Francisco, likely against a first-year starter in Trey Lance, should have them as a .500 road team at this stage of the year at a minimum.
K.C. will in all likelihood be favored in its first three home matchups before the Week 8 bye. but a Week 6 matchup against the Bills -- the Super Bowl favorite -- could be a pick'em depending on how Buffalo begins the year. Still, by the time the Chiefs reach the bye, it would be surprising if they were at or under .500, despite some tough opponents.
Post-bye, there are three easy wins to slot in as they'll face the Jaguars, Texans, and Seahawks. They'll also likely be favored in their Week 9 matchup at home against Tennessee.
So, if they can maintain a .500 record on the road through the first seven weeks and pull out home wins against the Chargers, Raiders, and Bills before the Week 8 bye, they'll be sitting at 5-2. The three games against the NFL's bottom-dwellers (Jacksonville, Seattle, and Houston) in the second half of the season get them to eight wins. The Chiefs should be able to take down the Titans in Week 9 and split with the Broncos, so you're already knocking on the door of the Over with 10 wins.
What could make or break this total, however, is the stretch from Week 11 to Week 14. Three of those four games will be on the road and features trips to L.A. (Chargers), Cincinnati, and Denver. The lone game at Arrowhead is against the defending Super Bowl champion Rams.
Again, this schedule isn't for the faint of heart, but the Chiefs do have the talent and pedigree to withstand it and go over this prop. There also isn't enough value in the Under to bet against Mahomes.
The pick: Over 10.5 wins (-115)
Las Vegas Raiders
Win total projection: 8.5 (Over -120, Under +100)
The Raiders are under new management after the team hired GM Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels from the Patriots this offseason. Not only will the top of the masthead look different in Las Vegas, but the Raiders have also revamped the roster, trading for superstar wideout Davante Adams and signing Pro Bowl pass-rusher Chandler Jones in free agency.
While Vegas should be better coached and has a more talented roster, its path in 2022 isn't easy. The Raiders have the third-hardest schedule in the NFL when looking at their opponents' projected win totals and are tied for the seventh most difficult schedule when accounting for their opponents' winning percentage last year.
Thanks to the AFC West facing the AFC South and NFC West this season, there are some gimme games baked into the schedule as they'll face the Jaguars, Texans, and Seahawks. If they can find a way to split with their division rivals, you're looking at six wins and then you'll have to try and cherry-pick three more wins on the schedule. Similar to the Chiefs, they'll avoid having to defend DeAndre Hopkins (PED suspension) in Week 2, so that could help them in their home opener against Arizona. It's also possible the Raiders pull a home win against the Patriots in Week 15 in what will likely be an emotional head-to-head as McDaniels squares off against Bill Belichick
One underrated piece to the Raiders' schedule that they find themselves on the unlucky side of is their Week 16 and Week 17 matchups against the Steelers (at Pittsburgh) and 49ers. With rookie Kenny Pickett and first-year starter Trey Lance the likely QB1s for their respective clubs, having these games so late in the year does give those young signal-callers more time to get their feet wet in the league, thus a more difficult challenge for the Raiders. Had those games been scheduled at the beginning of the year, it's more likely Jones and Maxx Crosby could have had their heads spinning.
All that has me leaning Under on this total. If things break right, however, there is a path for the Raiders to win nine or more games. However, if you do like that possibility or for them to go that high or even higher, there's more juice for them to make the playoffs at +190. If you really like the Over, then you may be better served sprinkling some cash on their odds to win the division at +700.
The pick: Under 8.5 wins (+100)
Los Angeles Chargers
Win total projection: 10 (Over -130, Under -105)
The Chargers had plenty of money to spend this offseason and they weren't shy about throwing cash around. The team jumped into free agency and re-signed wideout Mike Williams and inked Pro Bowl corner J.C. Jackson to a massive deal to help solidify the secondary. L.A. also pulled off one of the more notable trades of the offseason, landing pass-rusher Khalil Mack in a deal with the Chicago Bears.
Those moves, along with the continued ascension of star quarterback Justin Herbert, have the Chargers as one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the AFC at +1600 (tied for the third-highest odds in the conference).
Given how tough this division is projected to be, the path isn't going to be particularly easy for any of these AFC West clubs, including the Chargers. Their schedule is just outside of the top 10 hardest slates on the season when it comes to their opponents' win total projection.
That said, you are looking at four layup wins against the Jaguars, Texans (in Houston), Seahawks, and Falcons (in Atlanta) on this schedule. They also have a Week 5 matchup against the Browns in Cleveland that could fall into a window where quarterback Deshaun Watson could be serving a suspension due to his off-the-field issues. If that turns into Jacoby Brissett vs. Herbert, that should be another gimme win, getting L.A. halfway to a push on this win total.
If the Chargers can split their divisional matchups, you're looking at eight wins and they will likely be favored in Week 14 and Week 15 when they host the Dolphins and Titans.
What could make or break this Over, however, is the final three weeks of the regular season where they'll essentially be playing three road games. They'll first go on the road to Indy to face the Colts for a "Monday Night Football" matchup in Week 16, then head back to So-Fi Stadium to go against the Rams in Week 17. While the Chargers will technically be the home team with their stadium roommate, that crowd will likely lean more toward the Rams. Then, they'll wrap up the season in Denver. If the Chargers find themselves sitting at nine or 10 wins entering Week 16, that'll be quite the sweat over the final three weeks. Fortunately for Over bettors, I don't think it comes to that.
The pick: Over 10 wins (-130)
Win total projection: 10 (Over -110, Under -110)
The Broncos made a monumental upgrade at the most important position in the sport by landing Russell Wilson. As we've seen with the past two Super Bowl winners in the Buccaneers and Rams, getting an elite quarterback can provide immediate results in Year 1. Will Denver enjoy a similar result? Well, they are tied with the Chargers for the third-best odds to win the Super Bowl among AFC teams, so the oddsmakers have that as a real possibility.
Because the Broncos finished last in 2021, they'll also have an easier schedule than their division rivals. At first glance, you'll find a handful of layup games for Denver against inferior opponents: at Seahawks (Week 1), Texans (Week 2), Jets (Week 7), Jaguars (Week 8), and at Panthers (Week 12).
First-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett's club will likely be favored in their home matchups against the 49ers (Week 3) and Colts (Week 5), setting them up for seven wins. If they split the season series within the division, you're already at the push. Road games against the Titans (Week 10), Ravens (Week 13), and Rams (Week 16) will be difficult for Denver, but the game that could push us to the Over is their home matchup against the Cardinals in Week 16. Under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona has historically stumbled down the stretch, so getting the Cardinals scheduled for late in the year could be a benefit for Denver.
Because the Broncos own the most favorable schedule in the division, it might also be worth looking at them to win the AFC West at +250 if you like them to go over this win total.
The pick: Over 10 wins (-110)