Betting sports is challenging, and in the 2013 NFL season, we’ve already seen some developments that weren’t easily expected five weeks ago. What have we learned about the AFC West? This division offers a fascinating mixture of realities, some of them predictable and others not as predictable.
1 – The Denver Broncos are the best team in football.
This is not a point of real debate – not at the moment. If the Broncos played the Seattle Seahawks or New Orleans Saints in a matchup of the best teams in each conference, the Broncos would likely be favored on a neutral field. They would also be favored by more at home than the Seahawks or Saints would be favored in Seattle or New Orleans. Peyton Manning is simply seeing and processing the game of football with such clarity and confidence. He’s making everything look so easy for Denver’s offense. This group is set to smash all sorts of yardage and scoring records. It would be enormously surprising if Denver lost anything more than three games this season. Denver’s four NFC games are against the NFC East, the weakest division in the NFC. The Broncos shouldn’t lose more than one game in the AFC West, and they’ve already crushed the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. Denver will probably lose at New England against the Patriots, but the Broncos won’t lose on many other occasions as long as Peyton is healthy.
2 – The Oakland Raiders are one of the (five) worst teams in football.
You could see this coming a mile away, too. Oakland is totally lost and disorganized. The Raiders have no true starting quarterback, with Terrelle Pryor and Matt Flynn failing to establish themselves as quality NFL signal callers. The Raiders didn’t have very much in the person of Carson Palmer, but Palmer was and is better than either Pryor or Flynn. Second-year head coach Dennis Allen is finding it impossible to provide both the motivation and the game-planning acumen needed to give the Raiders an edge on the field. A loss at home to the previously winless Washington Redskins in week four tells you all you need to know about how impotent Oakland really is at the moment.
3 – The Kansas City Chiefs are clearly a playoff-level team.
This is the real surprise in the division. It was always seen as a distinct possibility that the Chiefs could be a playoff team in year one of the Andy Reid and Alex Smith eras. Reid is one of the game’s better coaches, having guided the Philadelphia Eagles to five NFC Championship Game appearances over the past 15 years. Yet, no one knew exactly what he had in Kansas City. No one really knew how he would work with Smith, a player seeking a fresh start after losing the starting quarterback job to Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco with the 49ers. A point that has to be clarified here is that the Chiefs really aren’t winning with Smith and their offense. Smith’s best virtue is simply that he’s not making big mistakes. The Chiefs’ swarming defense and an above-average special teams unit are doing most of the work. It’s adding up, though: It will be very hard for the rest of the AFC to knock the Chiefs out of the playoffs.
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