As America’s most popular professional sport, the NFL makes headlines 365 days a year. For the first time since 1978, when the list went from 14 to 16 games, the NFL extended the regular season again this year. The 2021 NFL Schedule was released on May 12 and the 32 teams will play 17 games during an 18-week season. That means NFL fans get an extra week of NFL betting and fantasy football action. It also affects the total bets won.
Week 1 begins with Dallas visiting defending NFL champion Tampa Bay on September 9. The week ends with Las Vegas hosting Baltimore in the Monday Night Football fight. Regular season action concludes with Seattle visiting Arizona on January 9, 2022. Wild card weekend, divisional round playoffs and conference championship Sunday follow. The season ends with Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022 at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Cali.
AFC West Division Futures Odds
Looking like the mighty Secretariat during their 1973 Triple Crown triumph at the Belmont Stakes, Kansas City (14-2) was the class of the AFC West last season. The Chiefs won the regular-season division title for the fifth consecutive year; longest active streak of any division winner. After a 6-3 start, during their inaugural season in Las Vegas, the Raiders finished second with an 8-8 record. Despite a solid season, in 2020 NFL rookie quarterback of the year Justin Herbert, Los Angeles (7-9) was third. Fighting on both sides of the ball, Denver (5-11) finished fourth.
Preseason betting options are offered at several popular US sportsbooks, AFC West Division title odds, plus team win totals, are posted on the NFL futures board on FanDuel. While odds and prices are subject to change, unless there is a serious injury or a stud player changes teams, the moves will be subtle. Will the Chiefs get six straight division championships? Will Herbert avoid a fall in the second year? Is Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater the answer at QB for Denver? Will the Raiders claim their first division title since 2002? Let’s discuss!
Kansas City has been on a roll with a 60-20 record in the last five years. Los Angeles is a distant second, as the Chargers are 38-42 since the 2016 season. After playoff victories against Cleveland (22-17) and Buffalo (38-24), Kansas City failed. repeat the NFL Championship by losing 31-9 to Tampa Bay during Super Bowl LV. Falling well off the pace early, after a 2-7 start, the Chargers closed the season with four straight wins. If Herbert maintains his form and the defense improves, the Chargers are prepared to challenge the Chiefs for the division title.
Denver showed flashes of life early as they opened the season with a 3-4 record. Fighting on both sides of the ball after that, the Broncos were knocked out of the playoffs following a 48-19 loss at home to Buffalo in Week 15. Seemingly in perpetual rebuilding mode, Las Vegas looked like they could challenge for a place in the playoffs in last place. year. After a 6-3 start, the wheels came off as the Raiders finished 2-5 and were outscored 237-179 during their last seven games. In setting a potential hedge bet, later in the season, I’ll take the generous money line price from the Chargers.
AFC West Champions Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers (+500)
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Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West wins Total Futures
Aiming for a sixth straight divisional title, plus a third straight Super Bowl appearance, Kansas City enters the season as a huge favorite to win the AFC West. The Chiefs division winning price (-290) is the lowest of any team. Tampa Bay is the next highest favorite with (-190) odds of winning the NFC South. One of the NFL’s most feared “Big Three,” QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce return for the Chiefs.
While there aren’t many, one area of concern for Kansas City is the offensive line. The unit protecting Mahomes was renewed during the offseason and has five new starters. After their games averaged a final score of 30-23 last year, expect the Chiefs to get back to having a “double, don’t break” style defense this season. Kansas City has the highest win total in the FanDuel Sportsbook. Bet the Chiefs finish with at least 13 wins.
Key players resigned: S Daniel Sorensen, RB Darrel Williams, LG Andrew Wylie
Key additions: LG Joe Thuney, RB Jerick McKinnon, IDL Jarran Reed
Key outputs: WR Sammy Watkins, LT Eric Fisher, RB Damien Williams
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: LB Nick Bolton, C Creed Humphrey, DE Joshua Kaindoh
Kansas City Chiefs Total Win Prediction: OVER 12.5 (+100) wins
Los Angeles Chargers – AFC West wins Total Futures
Setting several records, quarterback Justin Herbert was a beacon of hope for Los Angeles. The Chargers’ top pick, fifth overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, took over as a starter in Week 2 and never looked back. Among his accomplishments, Herbert set rookie records for most TD passes (31) and most completions (396). He also had the most games with at least 300 passing yards (8) and most games with at least three TD passes (6).
After missing six games due to a hamstring injury, the Chargers are hoping RB Austin Ekeler will play a full season. Ekeler helps relax the opposing defense as he is a threat in the running game and as a pass receiver. Loaded with offense, the Los Angeles defense remains suspect. The Chargers blew an 11 or more point lead four times last season. A three-win improvement is considerable, but bet MORE on the Chargers’ win total.
Key players resigned: CB Michael Davis, PK Michael Badgley, CB Brandon Facyson
Key additions: C Corey Linsley, TE Jared Cook, RT Matt Feiler
Key outputs: TE Hunter Henry, QB Tyrod Taylor, S Rayshawn Jenkins
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: OT Rashawn Slater, CB Asante Samuel Jr., WR Josh Palmer
Los Angeles Chargers Total Win Prediction: OVER 9.5 (-110)
Denver Broncos – AFC West wins Total Futures
Following its 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50 against Carolina, Denver has posted a record loss for four of the past five seasons. The Broncos’ 5-11 score last year puts their record at 32-48 since the 2016 season. Loaded with a mix of young and veteran talent on offense, quarterback Drew Lock struggled in his sophomore year. Lock had just 2,933 passing yards with 16 TDs and 15 interceptions. He’s competing for the starting role this year.
Not the answer the Panthers were looking for, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater signed with Denver after a season at Carolina. While Lock is the projected starter, Bridgewater may spring into action sooner rather than later. The Broncos struggled on defense down the stretch last year. Denver was outscored 263-176 during a season-ending 2-7 slump. Defense should be better, but an 8–9 record seems adequate for the Broncos.
Key players resigned: WR Tim Patrick, S Justin Simmons, IDL Shelby Harris
Key additions: QB Teddy Bridgewater, CB Ronald Darby, CB Kyle Fuller
Key outputs: RB Phillip Lindsay, CB AJ Bouye, TE Nick Vannett
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: OG Patrick Surtain II, RB Javonte Williams, C Quinn Meinerz
Denver Broncos Total Win Prediction: UNDER 8.5 (+110) wins
Las Vegas Raiders – AFC West Wins Total Futures
No longer nomads, the Raiders have settled into their new home at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Playing with fans in the stands for the first time, it will be interesting to hear the stadium load up when the Raiders host Baltimore in their Week 1 football game on Monday night. Las Vegas enters that contest with a four-game losing streak at home. All four losses were during the Raiders’ season-ending 2-5 losing streak.
Finishing 10th overall, at 27.1 points per game, Las Vegas’ offense was decent last season. With QB Derek Carr, TE Darren Waller and RB Josh Jacobs, the offense should be solid again. Defense remains a question mark, after the Raiders allowed 29.9 points per game. Only Detroit (519) and Jacksonville (492) allowed more total points than the Raiders (478) last year. A 7-10 record is within reach of Las Vegas.
Key players resigned: LT Kolton Miller, LB Nicholas Morrow, QB Marcus Mariota
Key additions: RB Kenyan Drake, WR John Brown, EDGE Yannick Ngakoue
Key outputs: WR Nelson Agholor, C Rodney Hudson, RT Trent Brown
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: OT Alex Leatherwood, S Trevon Moehrig, DE Malcolm Koonce
Las Vegas Raiders Win Overall Prediction: OVER 6.5 (-145) wins
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.