The last time the Los Angeles Chargers won the AFC West was back in 2009. Since then, the Denver Broncos have won it five times (2011-15), and the Kansas City Chiefs have won it four times (2010, 2016-18). With the show that Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs put on last season, they are expected to win it again in 2019.
But is there a chance that the Los Angeles Chargers could emerge as contenders and win their first division title in a decade?
Oddsmakers don’t think that it is an impossible task, but they don’t see it happening. Bovada has the odds for winning the AFC West set at:
- Kansas City Chiefs -160
- Los Angeles Chargers +200
- Denver Broncos +1100
- Oakland Raiders +1200
So—who’s going to win the division?
The Raiders have improved their roster since last season. But better players do not necessarily mean a team is going to be better. The new has to be integrated with the old, and they all have to figure out how to work together. Sometimes this process is quick; sometimes it takes as long as a season.
It also requires a head coach that can get everything moving in the right direction. Jon Gruden was great back in the day, but he has yet to prove he can still do the job.
There is hope in Denver, but it remains to be seen if they have a quarterback capable of moving the ball on offense. Joe Flacco has the pedigree, but he hasn’t been that impressive in recent years. Expecting a rookie, Drew Lock, to step right in may be asking a bit much of him.
That leaves the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers.
It is not hard to understand why the Chiefs are the favorites. Patrick Mahomes did incredible things while leading the Chiefs offense last season. You would have thought losing a star running back during the season would have derailed things, but it didn’t.
There is a chance that they are going to lose the services of Tyreek Hill this season. However, they may already have his replacement on the roster in rookie Mecole Hardman. Even if he doesn’t live up to the hype, the Chiefs may be fine without Hill anyway. In the four games where he was not much of a factor (less than 55 yards receiving; San Francisco, Denver, Oakland, and the Chargers) they were 3-1.
With him, they have one of the best offenses in football; without him, they are still pretty darn good. However, their defense was terrible, and they really haven’t done anything significant to fix it.
That leaves the Chargers.
The Chargers had a 12-4 record last season, just like the Chiefs, but lost the division due to tiebreakers. They were good on both sides of the ball last year, and since they didn’t lose anyone important in the offseason, they should be good on both sides of the ball this year.
Factor in the fact that it will be a little easier to slow Patrick Mahomes down now that teams have had plenty of time to study him, and it is easy to see the Chargers getting it done this year.
Bet on them now, though, because their odds are bound to get shorter once Tyreek Hill is disciplined.