Following the NFL schedule release, fans and analysts often try to predict which games will be won and lost by each team. Another key aspect of the schedule release involves sportsbooks setting the predicted number of games any given team should win, using the book’s models. In this series, each of the eight NFL divisions will be previewed on a team-by-team basis. The win total projections below have been taken from Caesars Sportsbook, via ESPN.
The sixth division that will be assessed is the AFC West. This division has undoubtedly garnered the most offseason talk, and it’s difficult to recall any division receiving this much chatter in recent history. Each team has a legitimate shot to secure a home postseason game, and all four teams may qualify for the postseason. All-Pro players such as Russell Wilson, Davante Adams, Khalil Mack, Chandler Jones, and J.C. Jackson each are newcomers to AFC West teams, a list that rivals some division’s best overall players.
Previous divisions in the series:
Kansas City Chiefs
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 10.5 wins
2021 Record: 12-5
The most newsworthy change for Kansas City in the past few months has been the trade of superstar receiver Tyreek Hill. As wide receivers have seen larger paydays when signing new deals as of late, the former West Alabama Tiger opted to hop on the bandwagon. Once the Chiefs agreed to terms with the Dolphins, Drew Rosenhaus, Hill’s agent, landed his client a $120 million contract. The Chiefs were able to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, as well as drafting Skyy Moore from Western Michigan, but this may not adequately replace Tyreek Hill’s impact.
However, Moore and the other draft selections do appear to be strong ones for Kansas City. The team scooped up Trent McDuffie, a projected starting cornerback, per PFF, and George Karlaftis in the first round. These players should have the opportunity to find success during their careers in Kansas City, but stepping into a starting role from day one could prove difficult. Having a younger defense with less experience is a strong team-building strategy long-term, but in games late in the season where physical and mental aspects dwindle, the youthful Chiefs defense may struggle.
Their offensive line plus Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce will be competitive and have a chance in every game, but the six-time reigning AFC West Champions may falter in a polished division.
Prediction: Under 10.5 wins
Las Vegas Raiders
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 8.5 wins
2021 Record: 10-7
The Raiders had a wild finish to the 2021 season, dramatically beating the division-foe Chargers in their first-ever 17th regular season matchup. Similar to Tyreek Hill’s trade request, longtime Packers receiver Davante Adams sought an exorbitant contract extension. Adams chose to reunite with his college quarterback Derek Carr in Las Vegas, giving them a top-tier group of offensive weapons.
On defense, the Raiders added four-time Pro Bowler Chandler Jones with a three-year deal. He joins forces with Maxx Crosby, who led the NFL in total pressures with 100, per PFF. Another addition to this side of the ball is Rock Ya-Sin, and he is expected to be a starter. The Las Vegas defense ranked in the top half of the league in yards allowed last season, and the unit will look to build upon that in 2022.
Despite playing in what may be the strongest division in the NFL, the Raiders appear to be viewed as the weakest of the group by a sizable margin. Having their win total projection be a full game and a half less than any other team in the division is somewhat puzzling after making the playoffs last season and adding one of the best receivers in the league. New head coach Josh McDaniels will have his hands full in the AFC West, but the team should be up for the challenge.
Prediction: Over 8.5 wins
Los Angeles Chargers
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 10 wins
2021 Record: 9-8
The team narrowly missing out on the playoffs last season at the hands of the Raiders was the Los Angeles Chargers. Star quarterback Justin Herbert finished the year second in passing yards (5,014) and third in touchdown passes (38) in just his second NFL season. The offensive line was strong, allowing the seventh-lowest pressure percentage in the league, per PFF. Tom Telesco added to this unit, drafting guard Zion Johnson in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The highlight of the past few months for the Chargers was acquiring Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, making this one of the best pairs of newcomers in recent history; few teams have been able to land both a premier edge and top-notch defensive back in the same offseason. Offensive coordinators will have nightmares attempting to design schemes to avoid the duo of Mack and Joey Bosa. First-team All-Pro safety Derwin James captains a secondary that has Asante Samuel Jr., Bryce Callahan, and Nasir Adderley. Sebastian Joseph-Day is a free agent signing who isn’t discussed as often as the aforementioned players, but he should improve LA’s run defense from last season.
The most unbelievable part about their roster construction is that skill-position players such as Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler haven’t been mentioned thus far. With a great offensive line, a budding star at quarterback, and one of the most frightening defenses in the NFL, the Chargers will have every opportunity to win their division. Brandon Staley will attempt to build on his head coaching debut during the 2022 season, and achieving double-digit wins appears to be attainable.
Prediction: Over 10 wins
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 10 wins
2021 Record: 7-10
As the Seattle Seahawks finished their 2021 campaign with the fewest wins since Tarvaris Jackson was under center a decade prior, talks began about their franchise quarterback having a change of scenery. Being what some considered to be an upper-echelon quarterback away from competing in the AFC, Denver opted to trade for Russell Wilson. After shipping an abundance of draft capital alongside Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, and Drew Lock, the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year became a Denver Bronco.
The Broncos have had a plethora of starting quarterbacks since Peyton Manning, including Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Case Keenum, and Brandon Allen, among others. Having Russell Wilson gives the franchise immediate stability at the premier position, and he will elevate the Denver offense. The team won seven games last season with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock at QB, and five losses came from one-possession games. The Super Bowl XLVIII Champion, a game ironically won by Seattle against the Broncos, should be able to close the gap in such contests, making the team more competitive.
Denver also added Randy Gregory to their defense, pairing him with Bradley Chubb as pass rushers. Patrick Surtain II and Justin Simmons make for a formidable secondary duo, and the Broncos will look to build upon the defense that surrendered the third-fewest points in the league last season. First-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett is walking into an unbelievably talented division, but he has all the pieces to be successful.