2013 NFL Regular Season Win Totals: AFC West

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I’m not going to lie, the AFC is not a great conference. Some of the reasons I give for each team in the AFC West are either obvious or not very helpful. But, we soldier on!

For those of you that missed the first two editions of this 8-part series, I am breaking down each NFL team’s projected win totals and evaluating the over/under gambling lines, while throwing in a little fantasy advice. If you did miss the first two parts, here are the links to the AFC North and AFC South.

Denver Broncos // 2012 Record: 13-3, 1st AFC West
Key Additions: Wes Welker, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Key Departures: Elvis Dumervil, Willis McGahee
2013 Win Total: 11 ½ (Over -120, Under EVEN)

What a weird offseason this team has had. Wes Welker drops into their laps back in March, and Elvis Dumervil ends up leaving after he and the team couldn’t agree on a pay cut in time to send the paperwork to the league. Overall, the team is better than last year, and Peyton Manning is a year healthier removed from neck surgery, yet a year older. Let’s get this out of the way; this is the team to beat in the AFC West, and they are a prohibitive -410 to do so.

A quick look at their schedule and you’re hard pressed to come up with difficult games. Other than at New England and at Houston, nothing else stands out. I wouldn’t overthink this. The NFC East may be better than last year, and Denver takes on the whole division in the first half of the season, but that is not enough to be a concern. They will still be a favorite in all six games in their division, the AFC South overall is not strong, and some may consider them the best team in the conference.

They end the year at KC, vs. TEN, vs. SD, at HOU and at OAK. Take the OVER on 11.5 wins with confidence. I’m frankly surprised it hasn’t moved to 12.

Kansas City Chiefs // 2012 Record: 2-14, 4th AFC West
Key Additions: Alex Smith, Donnie Avery, head coach Andy Reid
Key Departures: Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Peyton Hillis. I think these are all good for the team.
2013 Win Total: 7 ½ (Over -145, Under +125)

I love this team and I don’t know why. It may be their underrated defense, it may be fantasy darling Jamaal Charles, or maybe I just can’t wait to see Andy Reid take his clock management skills to Kansas City. Regardless, they will NOT be as bad as their record last year. They have the second best odds to win the West at +700.

This team went through a huge makeover. Alex Smith is now under center, with a legitimate #1 receiving threat in Dwayne Bowe, and one of the best 3 Running Backs in the league in Jamaal Charles. Last year, Kansas City sent out Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. And who knows if 3rd year receiver Jon Baldwin will ever realize his potential. But there’s something to build on. Andy Reid, for how much I’ve made fun of him over the years, is a huge upgrade at head coach.

They should be competitive against the NFC East, the bottom half of the AFC South, and getting to play the Bills and Browns isn’t a bad break. Not to mention their own division minus Denver. That’s 12 games in which I’m giving them a chance to win. When the only truly difficult matchups seem to be Denver twice, Houston and Indy, the over looks attractive. All advanced metrics from last year suggest that Kansas City should do better in turnover margin and red zone efficiency.

That said, -145 for a 6-win increase is steep. There are many instances of teams dramatically improving after a terrible season. If the over/under was 7 wins, I would put my house on the over. The extra half game with the increased odds doesn’t make this a particularly valuable team. It is entirely possible for this team to go through growing pains and win 6 or 7 games and have it be a “good” year. The Chiefs are also a very trendy pick to improve this year, and you usually want to bet away from the public. If you’re making a play here, make it very small. I mean not even close to a unit. This is a lottery ticket type bet.

Take the UNDER at +125. I realize it goes against everything I just said, but the idea of betting is to make the best decision based on what is most likely to happen. 7-9 or 6-10 just sounds right.

San Diego Chargers // 2012 Record: 7-9 2nd AFC West
Key Additions: Manti Te’o? Dwight Freeney?
Key Departures: Not enough turnover for a bad roster in 2012.
2013 Win Total: 7 ½ (Over +110, Under -130)

I think this team is as much of a “black hole” as the Raiders. Regular TV blackouts, no real stars, and up until this offseason, a GM/coach combo that was very inept. I don’t think they had a particularly good draft, and they’ve had camp injuries to both Danario Alexander and Malcom Floyd, the former for the season and the latter until who-knows-when. That thrusts perennial underachievers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal into starting duty, flanking a backfield of Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown and Danny Woodhead. Maybe if Vincent Brown stays healthy, he can be a catalyst to this Chargers team.

I can feel you drifting off already. This feels like another 6, 7 or 8 win season for San Diego. The schedule isn’t really friendly, as I don’t think San Diego matches up well with most of the NFC East, and their extra games are against Miami and Cincinnati. Not world-beaters but not a walk in the park. I think they’ll have trouble with their own division as well, especially on the road.

I like the UNDER at -130 in this one. This may be the most forgettable team in the league, next to, of course…

Oakland Raiders // 2012 Record: 4-12, 3rd AFC West
Key Additions: Matt Flynn, Josh Cribbs… Chris Kluwe? Charles Woodson?
Key Departures: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Brandon Myers, Tommy Kelly
2013 Win Total: 5 ½ (Over +120, Under -140)

The fact that the only key additions I can come up with are an unproven backup QB, a kick returner, a punter, and an aging defensive back should paint a vivid picture.

I don’t think Carson Palmer is a bad quarterback when surrounded by enough weapons, and he only won four games last year. Two against the woeful Chiefs and one in overtime against the Jaguars, which frankly, a Raiders-Jags game going into overtime is a crime against humanity. Not only is there nothing to suggest this team will be any better than last year, but you can easily make a case that they’ll be worse. On paper they are mostly worse than every team they will face this year, with equally bad teams in Jacksonville and the Jets.

No, this paragraph is not meant to suck you in only to have a last second swerve where I talk you into the 2013 Oakland Raiders winning 6 or more games this year. Most of you have probably already fallen asleep at your computer after 200 words on the Raiders. This is very straightforward. If you are a big enough degenerate to bet this prop, take the UNDER at -140. If they win 6 games or more, Vegas should refund your money.

This is a very bad team, one that should strongly contend for the #1 overall pick in 2014. If you own any Raider on your fantasy team other than Darren McFadden (and even him, hopefully not as a starter every week), you are either a close family member of the Raiders, an Oakland Raider yourself, or in a 16-team AFC-west-players-only fantasy league.

Hopefully that is clear enough. Now that I’ve cured insomnia all over the world, we will get into my home division, the AFC East. I think there’s at least enough interesting material, from Belichick to buttfumbles, to keep people awake there.

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