Led by reigning NFL MVP Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos will open the 2014 season as prohibitive betting favorites to win the AFC West.
And for the second year in a row, they sit 13/2, atop the Super Bowl future odds menu at most sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. They are 1/3 favorites to win the division title.
Manning and the Broncos did not disappoint in the regular season in 2013, setting personal and team records for passing touchdowns and points scored in a single season.
With Manning at the helm, the Broncos exploded for an incredible 606 points en route to a 13-3 record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But the offensive machine sputtered against the Seattle Seahawks, who humbled the Broncos in a 43-8 victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.
2014 NFL division preview: AFC West
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks previews the AFC West for the 2014 NFL season.
Despite their Super Bowl loss, the Broncos immediately emerged as Super Bowl XLIX betting favorites, with Manning also a strong 3/1 favorite to repeat as MVP.
Manning is not the only Bronco garnering prop consideration. Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas formed a potent combo with Manning in 2013, amassing 1,430 receiving yards, including six games in the regular season of 100 yards or more.
An 8/1 bet to lead the NFL in receiving yards this season, Thomas was one of the few bright spots for the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, making 13 catches for 118 yards and the Broncos’ only TD of the game. Sports oddsmakers have him at 75/1 to win 2014 MVP honors.
While the focus remains on Denver, there is no shortage of dark horses in the AFC West, including the San Diego Chargers, who follow the Broncos in AFC West futures betting with odds of 5/1.
Fueled by three 400+ yard performances by Philip Rivers, the Chargers got off to a strong 4-2 start last season, but tumbled to 125/1 Super Bowl odds after losing three of four games in November. However, the Bolts surprised many by winning four of their last five to finish 9-7 and claim the AFC’s second wild-card spot.
With Rivers pegged as a 22/1 bet to lead the NFL in passing yards, the Chargers are a 2/3 favorite to surpass a regular-season win total of nine. But in a cruel twist, the club is also strongly favored to miss the playoffs and trails far behind the favorites with Super Bowl odds of 40/1.
The Kansas City Chiefs also claim dark horse status in the AFC West, with odds of 6/1 to win the division.
The Chiefs are coming off a solid 2013 campaign, which they kicked off with nine straight wins before losing five of their last seven to finish 11-5. While expectations are high among Chiefs fans, online sportsbooks have approached KC with caution, setting their regular-season win total at just eight, with the UNDER sporting a moneyline of 5/7.
It was another disappointing season for the Oakland Raiders, who endured a six-game losing streak down the stretch to finish 2013 at 4-12.
The Raiders are expected to make little improvement in 2014. Pegged as 18/1 longshots in the AFC West and sporting dismal 100/1 Super Bowl odds, Oakland sports 5/7 odds to go OVER a feeble regular-season win total (five).