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AFC West Preview

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AFC East · AFC South · AFC North · AFC West
The AFC West race was never in doubt once the Broncos figured out their way with Peyton Manning. Following a 2-3 start, Manning rallied Denver from a 24-0 deficit at San Diego to stun the Chargers, 35-24, jump-starting an 11-game winning streak. Although the Broncos fell to the eventual champion Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round, Denver is still the odds-on favorite to capture the AFC West crown again. Will the changes amongst the Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders be enough to threaten the Broncos?

Denver cashed tickets in eight of their final 11 regular season games last season, including four times in the road favorite role. All four losses for the Broncos in 2012 came to division champions, as Denver beat only one team that made the playoffs (Baltimore in December). The Broncos thrived in the home favorite role in the regular season, cashing six of seven times, while scoring at least 30 points in all seven opportunities.

The Chargers haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2009, while finishing over the .500 mark just once in the last three seasons. San Diego has covered only four of the last 13 games in the home 'chalk' role, including a 2-5 ATS mark at Qualcomm Stadium last season. The Lightning Bolts fared better as a road underdog by cashing in four of six opportunities, including outright victories over the Raiders, Jets, and Steelers. San Diego makes four trips to the East Coast this season, as the Chargers are 2-6 ATS the last three seasons in the Eastern Time Zone.

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The Chiefs pulled up lame last season by winning just two games, while not beating one conference foe. Kansas City brought in Andy Reid to save this sinking ship which has two winning seasons since 2006. The Chiefs covered only five games last season, but put together a 3-1 ATS mark as an underdog of nine or more points. This season, Kansas City likely won't be receiving that many points with road contests at Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Tennessee, and Buffalo in the first nine weeks.

The Raiders finished in third place in the AFC West in spite of a 4-12 record, which included losses in eight of their final nine contests. Oakland compiled a 1-4 ATS mark as an underdog between 6 and 7 ½ points, which will definitely come up again this season. The Raiders are unsure about who will start at quarterback in the season opener at Indianapolis, but Oakland had major issues scoring by putting up 17 points or less in nine games.

September Games to Watch:

Denver at N.Y. Giants - Week 2: The Manning brothers meet for the first time since 2010 when Peyton's Colts beat down Eli's Giants, 38-14. New York scored at least 38 points in three of its final four home contests last season, but the Giants own a 1-5-1 ATS record the last seven games against AFC opponents.

Kansas City at Philadelphia - Week 3: Andy Reid makes his triumphant return to Lincoln Financial Field after leading the Eagles for 15 seasons. This is the middle contest of a three-game stretch against NFC East opponents, while it is a short week for both teams as it takes place on a Thursday night. The good news for the Chiefs is both of their wins last season came against NFC teams (Saints and Panthers).

Dallas at San Diego - Week 4: The Chargers have lost each of their last three home contests against NFC foes, including defeats last season to the Falcons and Panthers. This will be the only home game for the Bolts in a four-week stretch, which includes road contests against three teams that didn't make the playoffs last season (Eagles, Titans, and Raiders).

Washington at Oakland - Week 4: The Raiders have a shot to slow down Robert Griffin III in his first trip to the Black Hole. The Redskins have covered eight of their last 11 away contests since November 2011, but Washington owns a dreadful 1-6 SU/ATS record prior to the bye week since 2006.

2013 Win-Loss Projections
Team 2012 Record 2013 Win Total (LVH) Predicted Over/Under
Denver 13-3 11 ½ OVER
San Diego 7-9 7 ½ UNDER
Kansas City 2-14 7 ½ OVER
Oakland 4-12 5 ½ UNDER


Week 1 Best Bets (courtesy of LVH Hotel and Casino):

-- Chiefs -3 at Jaguars
-- Raiders +9 at Colts
-- Texans -3 at Chargers
-- Ravens +9 at Broncos - PASS

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.



  
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