Even though they are moving to Las Vegas in a few years, the Oakland Raiders seem to have the most stability of any team in their division this season.
That’s the main reason the Raiders are listed as +160 favorites (bet $100 to win $160) on the odds to win the AFC West at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com after finishing over the .500 mark for the first time since their trip to Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002.
Oakland went 12-4 in 2016 and probably would have won the AFC West had quarterback Derek Carr not broken his leg in Week 16. Instead, Carr went down for the rest of the year and the Raiders lost their last two games, including their regular-season finale to the Denver Broncos and a playoff setback to the Houston Texans.
This year, Oakland is hoping to stay healthy and finish what the team started last season. The Raiders were in the mix for the top seed in the AFC before giving way to the Kansas City Chiefs, who ended up winning the division on a tiebreaker.
The Raiders added local product Marshawn Lynch to boost the running game and have made it their mission to win a Super Bowl before bolting to Sin City in 2019 or 2020.
The Chiefs are the +240 second choice to repeat as AFC West champs, but they just lost starting running back Spencer Ware to a season-ending knee injury.
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith is not getting any younger either, and the 33-year-old’s days appear to be numbered with rookie Patrick Mahomes getting picked in the first round of the NFL draft. If Smith struggles early on, there will be a lot of pressure to play Mahomes.
The Denver Broncos (+350) and Los Angeles Chargers (+400) round out the division, and both teams have issues to resolve in order to become serious contenders.
The Broncos are relying on Trevor Siemian again under center rather than second-year signal-caller Paxton Lynch while the Chargers will be playing their first year at the StubHub Center in Carson, a stadium not designed for football that holds just 27,000 fans.