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Denver Broncos

2013 record: 13-3
Postseason: Lost to Seattle 43-8 in Super Bowl
Off YPG: 457 (1st)
Def YPG: 356 (19th)
Off PPG: 37.9 (1st)
Def PPG: 24.9 (22nd)

2014 Total Win Analysis - LVH Total Win Opening Line - 11

We’ll lean toward the UNDER here. Denver has the 2nd toughest strength of schedule in the NFL this year just behind Oakland. The Broncos opponents this year won over 57% of their games last season. Their early season slate is brutal as six of their first their opponents are teams that were in the playoffs last year (Indy, KC, Seattle, New England, San Diego, & San Francisco). Their other two games during the opening half of the season are @ NYJ (long travel) and vs. Arizona who was 10-6 last year. Their road games outside of the AFC West include @ New England, @ Cincinnati, @ Seattle, and @NY Jets. Not easy to say the least. A lot of things went right for Denver last year. An aging Peyton Manning had a career year that was without injury. He lost two key cogs to that offense as RB Moreno & WR Decker have moved on. The defense was not good a year ago. They finished in the bottom third of the league in YPG allowed and PPG allowed. This team needs to score a pile of points to win games and we’re not so sure they’ll be able to do so at such a high rate (almost 40 PPG last year). This is a playoff team but we think they’ll really struggle to get near last year’s win total.

Betting Notes

-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 10-5-1, 11-5
-- If you take out last year’s 10-5-1 ATS mark, the Broncos have been one of the worst ATS teams with a record of 73-91-7 (44%) from 2003-2012.
-- Last year Denver was 6-3-1 ATS as a home favorite but from 2003-2012 they were just 22-39-3 ATS (36%) in that role.
-- Dating back to 1982, Denver is 26-19 ATS (58%) coming off a bye. They have also played 28 OVERS and 17 UNDERS when coming off a bye week.
-- Broncos have faced AFC West rival Chargers 69 times since 1980. During the stretch the two have played to the UNDER 40 times, the OVER just 28 times with 1 push.
-- After starting the season going OVER the total in 10 of their first 12 games, the Broncos went UNDER the number 5 of their last 6 games (including playoffs).

Player & Team Notes

-- The oddsmakers set the Denver total at 50 or higher in 14 of their 16 regular season games last year. The other two were both set at 49.
-- Denver loses key offensive players RB Moreno (1,038 rushing yards) and WR Decker (1,288 receiving yards). They did pick up DB Aqib Talib from New England which will really help in pass coverage (25th in YPG passing allowed last year) if he can stay healthy along with DeMarcus Ware from Dallas who should bolster the pass rush. Von Miller's return on the left side of the defense could have the biggest impact though for the Broncos.
-- Denver led the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage last year (48%) AND 4th down conversion percentage (90%).
-- The Broncos led the NFL in YPG (457) topping 2nd place Philadelphia by almost 50 YPG. Denver also led the league averaging 6.3 yards per play.

San Diego Chargers

2013 record: 9-7
Postseason: Lost to Denver 24-17 in Divisional Round of playoffs
Off YPG: 393 (5th)
Def YPG: 366 (23rd)
Off PPG: 24.8 (12th)
Def PPG: 21.8 (11th)

2014 Total Win Analysis:
LVH Total Win Opening Line - 7.5
Chargers finished last year with 9 regular season wins and the oddsmakers set this year’s number at 7.5. We’ll lean ever so slightly to the UNDER here. Despite giving up just 21 PPG last year, San Diego’s defense was a bit sketchy last year. They finished near the bottom of the league in YPG allowed and YPP allowed. Thus, in our opinion, they were a bit lucky to only allow 21 PPG. Their offense was very solid a year ago. They should be good again this year but the loss of OC Whisenhunt will be a key factor. He was known for his passing game prowess and QB Rivers had possibly his best overall year of his career under Whisenhunt, who has moved on to Tennessee. The Bolts have a very tough schedule this year. Their strength of schedule ranks the 4th toughest in the NFL with their opponents this year winning nearly 57% of their games last year. The AFC West will again be tough with Denver & KC (both in playoffs last year) and the Chargers must play what many consider the toughest conference in the NFL, the NFC West (Seattle, San Fran, Arizona, and an improved St. Louis). They will be an underdog in their first two games @ Arizona and at home against Seattle before a fairly easy 4 game stretch (Buffalo, Jacksonville, NYJ, and Oakland). However from that point on, the Chargers have a brutal slate facing the likes of KC (twice), Denver (twice), @ Miami, @ Baltimore, New England, and @ San Francisco.

Betting Notes

-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 9-6-1 ATS, 7-9
-- Since 2004, the Chargers have THE BEST spread record in the NFL at 93-70-7 (57%).
-- They also have the best spread record in the NFL as a road underdog since 2004 hitting at a whopping 70% (28-12-4 ATS)
-- However, when you make the Bolts a road favorite, they are just 7-16 ATS dating back to 2008.
-- San Diego also sits on the best spread record in the NFL in Division games (since 2004). Their ATS mark against AFC West opponents during that span in 34-22-5.
-- AFC rivals San Diego & Oakland have gone UNDER the total in 13 of their last 19 meetings.

Player & Team Notes
-- San Diego lost a key member of their coaching staff when OC Ken Whisenhunt left to take the head coaching job at Tennessee. He guided QB Phillip Rivers to one of his best years ever last season.
-- Look for the Chargers to run more of an up-tempo, no-huddle offense this year under their new OC Frank Reich.
-- San Diego was 5th in the NFL in Red Zone Scoring opportunities per game at 3.7, but they were just 23rd in the NFL in Red Zone TD scoring percentage at 51%.
-- Chargers are very solid on the offensive line where they bring back all 5 starters from 2013 + 3 backups who have decent starting experience.
-- The Charger defense finished 9th in the NFL in PPG last year allowing just over 21. However, they were near the bottom (28th) in defensive yards per play and (23rd) in defensive yards per game.

Oakland Raiders

2013 Record: 4-12
Postseason: No Playoffs
Off YPG: 334 (23rd)
Def YPG: 364 (22nd)
Off PPG: 20.1 (24th)
Def PPG: 28.3 (29th)

2014 Total Win Analysis: LVH Total Win Opening Line - 5

We lean towards the UNDER here. Oakland really struggled last season, losing eight of its final nine games to limp to a 4-12 record. They made some moves in free agency & the draft, but there are still major questions hounding this team - particularly at quarterback and offensive line. The team lost its best offensive lineman, Jared Veldheer, from a year ago and this unit that struggled a year ago actually got downgraded in the offseason. They also traded away QB Terrelle Pryor and signed Matt Schaub from the Texans. Schaub really struggled last year and was benched in week six. He finished with 10 TD and 14 INT in 10 games. Schaub has been a solid game-managing quarterback in the past, but it's hard to ignore last year's statistics and trust that he will be reliable in a Raiders uniform in 2014. There's also the fact that Oakland has the no. 1 toughest schedule in the NFL, and there's not a lot of reason for optimism here. On top of playing six games against three division foes that made the playoffs in 2013, the Raiders travel to New England, Seattle, and St. Louis while getting Arizona and San Francisco at home. The Raiders will be more recognizable this year after picking up some big names in free agency (more on that below), but we expect another season of turmoil in Oakland.

Betting Notes

-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 7-8-1, 7-8-1
-- There aren't too many trends that favor the Raiders. They are just 29-58-1 ATS at home since 2003 (33.3%) - worst in the NFL
-- Oakland is 10-28 ATS as a favorite since 2003 (26.3%) - worst in the NFL by a wide margin (Miami is 31st, covering 37.9%)
-- Also just 59-74-3 ATS as an underdog since 2003 (44.4%), 2nd to last in the NFL over that span
-- Just 16-27-1 ATS vs. NFC squads since 2003 (37.2%), the worst mark in the NFL. This year they catch the NFC West, arguably the best division in the league
-- The Raiders have been a road favorite an NFL-low four times since 2003 (0-4 ATS in those games)
-- Just 1-5 SU & ATS vs. division foes last season with a -13.5 PPG differential in those six games
-- Just 2-9 SU & 3-8 ATS in the last nine home games against Denver. They've failed to cover each of the past two seasons at home as a double digit underdog
-- Oakland and Kansas City have gone 14-3-1 UNDER in the last 18 meetings. Oakland and San Diego are 13-6 UNDER in the last 19 meetings -- The Raiders are a respectable 7-3 ATS against San Diego in the last 10 meetings

Player & Team Notes

-- Lost standout defensive lineman Lamarr Houston in free agency but replaced him by signing LaMarr Woodley (via Pittsburgh), Justin Tuck (via NYG), and Antonio Smith (via Houston) to fill the void.
-- Allowed 33 pass TD (30th in the NFL) intercepted just nine passes on defense last year (31st). Resigned DB Charles Woodson and brought in CB's Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown - both formerly played for the 49ers - to shore up the NFL's 28th ranked pass defense.
-- Lost leading rusher Rashad Jennings in free agency, but re-signed oft-injured Darren McFadden and brought in Maurice Jones-Drew from Jacksonville.
-- Signed veteran WR James Jones via Green Bay to liven up a receiving corps that was led by Rod Streater with 60 receptions a year ago. Jones has 24 TD receptions over the past three seasons and will be the top WR on the roster.
-- Ranked 29th in 2013 with just 17 pass TD. Schaub will have to improve on that number otherwise coaches will call on rookie Derek Carr (50 pass TD at Fresno State last year) as a replacement.
-- Drafted LB Khalil Mack with the 5th overall pick in the draft. Mack is viewed as the most impact-ready rookies and he will, at the very least, add a punch to the front seven that hasn't been there in recent years.

Kansas City Chiefs

2013 Record: 11-5
Postseason: Lost in Wild Card round to Indianapolis
Off YPG: 337 (21st)
Def YPG: 368 (24th)
Off PPG: 26.9 (7th)
Def PPG: 19.1 (6th)

2014 Total Win Analysis: LVH Total Win Opening Line - 8

Kansas City overachieved last year by winning 11 games when it was projected to finish under .500 (total win opening line last year was 7). At one point, KC was 9-0 with the best record in the NFL. They limped to a 2-5 finish and lost their first playoff game in embarrassing fashion (blew a 38-10 3rd quarter lead at Indianapolis and lost 44-45). The Chiefs had a lot of things go their way in 2013 and we don't expect that to be the case here in 2014; take the UNDER. Before the 2013 season, KC had the 26th strongest schedule in the NFL. After the season concluded, KC actually had the easiest schedule in the NFL. That will change this year as the Chiefs have the 7th toughest schedule. They have to face Denver and San Diego, two 2013 playoff teams, twice in division play. They also have tough conference games against New England, Miami, and Pittsburgh while also drawing the NFC East in non-conference play - meaning Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona, and St. Louis are all on the docket. They also didn't do enough in the offseason to make us believe that they actually improved. With a difficult schedule and an average offense and defense, expect KC to struggle and fail to finish over .500.

Betting Notes

-- 2013 ATS-O/U Record: 9-7, 7-9
-- Further evidence to its weak schedule, Kansas City was 5-1 ATS as an away favorite last year
-- The Chiefs are an NFL-best 14-6 ATS (70%) in non-conference games
-- In division games, the Chiefs are just 11-19 ATS (36.7%) since 2009, 2nd worst in the NFL
-- The Chiefs have finished UNDER the total in 25 of the last 41 home games, or 64.1% of their games - the highest UNDER percentage in the NFL since 2009
-- As a road team, KC is 3rd in the NFL since 2007 with a 34-23 ATS record (59.6%)
-- The Chiefs haven't had a ton of luck visiting Mile High Stadium. They are 2-11 SU & 4-9 ATS the last 13 games at Denver, with an average point differential of -12.6 PPG.
-- KC is just 1-6 SU & ATS in the last seven home games against Oakland

Player & Team Notes

-- RB Jamaal Charles ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing, amassing 1,287 yards (5.0 YPC) and an NFL-high 12 TD. He was also 3rd in the NFL in total yards - adding 693 receiving yards.
-- Behind Charles, KC had one of the top rushing attacks in the league last year. But that unit will take a hit after losing three starters from the offensive line (OT Branden Albert, OG's Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah).
-- Drafted DE Dee Ford with the 23rd pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. Ford is a pass-rush specialist who will add to the arsenal behind Justin Houston (11 sacks) and Tamba Hali (11 sacks).
-- QB Alex Smith completed 60.6% last year with 23 TD and only 7 INT. Respectable numbers, but KC hardly lit things up through the air. The Chiefs ranked 24th in pass yards and 27th in yards per attempt.
-- Smith helped KC keep its turnover numbers down, leading to a +19 TO differential - 2nd in the NFL only to SB champion Seattle.
-- The Chiefs led the NFL 11 non-offensive touchdowns. They scored seven defensive TD (5 INT returns & 2 fumble returns), two kickoff return TD, and two punt return TD.

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