2019 AFC WEST PREVIEW
Denver – Broncos played ‘under’ their regular-season win total each of the last three years … had 5 wire-to-wire losses last year … +7 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.
Kansas City – Chiefs had a league-high 9 wire-to-wire regular-season wins last year … will face a league-high 4 opponents with a bye week on deck this year … played ‘over’ their regular-season win total each of the last six years … +9 net turnovers in 2018 regular season.
Los Angeles – Chargers will face 3 opponents with a bye week on deck this year … had 6 double-digit regular-season wins last year … +1 net turnover in 2018 regular season.
Oakland – Raiders … will face a league-high 4 non-division opponents caught in the middle of a division sandwich this year … suffered a league-high 9 double-digit losses last year … -7 net turnovers in 2018 regular-season.
Season Win Total: 7
Like death and taxes, change is inevitable in the NFL. 2019 will go down as the year of ‘the rebuild’ for the Denver Broncos. It starts with new head coach Vic Fangio, recognized throughout the NFL as a defensive guru. Trading for QB Joe Flacco was a no-brainer, given Denver’s shoddy play at the position the last three seasons. Flacco may be long in the tooth and his best days are likely in the rearview mirror, but he’s a dark horse candidate to earn Comeback Player of the Year honors should the chips fall right for Denver this season. If not, drafting QB Drew Lock (thought to be the best quarterback prospect to come to Denver since Jay Cutler in 2006) in round two is a good relief valve.
They also plugged a huge hole at right tackle with the signing of Ja’Wuan James. In addition, second-round draft selection Dalton Risner figures to start at left guard. New OL coach Mike Munchak is a perfect fit for the new additions. Meanwhile, new OC Rich Scangrello comes over from the Kyle Shanahan QBs coaching tree and insisted on nabbing TE Noah Fant in the first round. And to satisfy his defensive thirst, Fangio was quick to sign DB Kareem Jackson from Houston while CB Bryce Callahan followed the coach over from Chicago. Now that’s an overhaul.
Denver is 20-4 SU in its first four games of the season the last six years.
INSIDE THE STATS: The Broncos are 33-10 ITS in their last 43 division games.
Kansas City Chiefs
Season Win Total: 10.5
Safe to say the 2018 season was a coup for Andy Reid’s troops. Not only did they manage to win back-to-back division titles for the first time in the 57 years of KC’s franchise history, but they also unveiled the league’s MVP in QB Patrick Mahomes, who took the NFL by storm last year. The question remains whether or not Mahomes will suffer a case of the “sophomore blues” now that there is game film on him, or if he can lead another charge in 2019 sans the service of his biggest weapon with Pro Bowl RB Kareem Hunt gone.
Nonetheless, the Chiefs were obsessed in ‘going young’ on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, with 26-year old S Tyrann Mathieu and 25-year old DE Frank Clark in, and a pair of 30-year-olds out in S Eric Berry and DE Justin Winslow. Meanwhile, Kansas City will face 4 opponents with a bye week on deck – the most in the league. After finishing 31st in the league in overall team defense, new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. Forced to take on the saltiest non-division strength of schedule in the league this season (87 projected total wins), Reid could be hard-pressed to hold off the L.A. Chargers while in quest of a third straight division title in 2019. Stay tuned.
Andy Reid is 9-0 ATS away off an ATS loss of more than 12 points before Game Eight of the season.P
INSIDE THE STATS: The Chiefs are 67-36 SU the L6Y but only 46-57 ITS in those games.
Los Angeles Chargers
Season Win Total: 9.5
After making the NFL Playoffs for the first time in five years in 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers (yes, it still sounds strange) are no longer just a team on the brink. Truth be known, the Lightning Bolts shared a joint-best record in the AFC last season with Kansas City but were forced to play in the Wild Card round as the Chiefs owned a better divisional record. It’s part of the collateral damage that occurs when you’ve lost nine of the last 10 games against Kansas City. And while the schedule is a tad more difficult this year than last (foes projected season win total was 124.5 in 2018), it’s not nuts to think they can overtake the Featherheads this season.
Operating behind veteran QB Philip Rivers, the Chargers inked the future Hall of Famer to an extension this summer. They also signed Tyrod Taylor and drafted Easton Stick this offseason as they begin to get ready for life APR – after Rivers. To which we say it doesn’t hurt knowing that Rivers resides inside our STAT YOU WILL LIKE below. To their credit, they did a fine job of adding talent during the offseason, including stud LB Thomas Davis. And they capped it off with a sterling draft in which six of the seven players were ranked higher than their actual draft position. The Bolts figure to challenge for division honors this season.
Rivers is 14-3-2 ATS as a division dog away from home in his NFL career.P
INSIDE THE STATS: The Chargers are 29-19 ITS away during the regular season the L6Y.
Season Win Total: 6
When Oakland owner Mark Davis hired Mike Mayock as his new GM, he rolled the dice. Mayock’s expertise had been featured within the NFL Network’s extensive coverage of the 2018 NFL Draft, so Davis gave him free rein in this year’s draft – despite having zero previous experience in an NFL front office. Mayock promptly came away with eyebrow-raising choices. Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell was a huge over-reach, while Alabama RB Josh Jacobs is a first-round risk, and Mississippi State S Jonathan Abram has issues in coverage. Ironically, Mayock’s first eight draft picks came from Clemson or Alabama, who faced one another in last year’s College Football Playoff championship game. Fortunately, the Raiders landed the biggest fish in the NFL free-agent market when WR Antonio Brown signed with Oakland. He’ll help QB Derek Carr stretch defenses vertically as he figures to dramatically improve on last year’s 7.3 yards per pass attempt.
From a scheduling standpoint, the Raiders catch 4 non-division foes in the middle of division sandwiches this season – the most in the league. That’s good news. Regrettably, the Black-and-Silver will play consecutive away games before crossing the pond to play the Bears in London. FYI: Only two teams in NFL history have done the same and each was trounced, 20-0 and 33-8, in England. Forced to fly the most miles in 2019, they were also given one of the most brutal travel stretches in the history of the NFL. After playing in Oakland in Week 2, the Raiders won’t return home until Week 8, which means they have to go 49 days without playing at their home stadium. It’s an ugly situation, for sure.S Jon Gruden is 0-11 SUATS away in his career with a losing record when coming off a SU win.
INSIDE THE STATS: Oakland is 1-7 SUATS in its L8 games following a zero turnover game.