A season ago, the Los Angeles Chargers finished with a 5-11 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the AFC West race. An offseason of roster turnover and tweaks to the coaching staff followed, but do the Chargers have enough for a last-to-first turnaround in 2020?
The answer to that question will go unanswered for a while, but oddsmakers have already put figures on the Chargers' chances for a rebound. BetMGM released new odds for each division, and the team comes in at +800 (8/1) to win the AFC West.
While the Chargers' odds place them squarely in dark-horse territory, they currently sit ahead of all but one team in the division. The Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL's defending champions, have the highest odds at -455 (20/91). The Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders take the bottom half of the division, coming in at +900 (9/1) and +1200 (12/1), respectively.
Because of the Chiefs' immense talent and status as reigning champs, they figure to enter the season as the AFC West favorite so long as quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains healthy. The order behind them can easily change, however. For example, oddsmakers presumably based the Chargers' outlook under the assumption that Tyrod Taylor will start the season behind center. If rookie Justin Herbert wins the job during training camp and the preseason, those odds will move to reflect it, perhaps pushing the Broncos into the No. 2 position.
Regardless, the Chargers' current odds echo how far they have come this offseason in the eyes of oddsmakers. Even if the AFC West crown appears out of reach, Los Angeles' improvements have put them in a strong position to improve over 2019.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH