It’s time to cash some of those future bets — and forget about some others. With the 2021 NFL regular season in the books, we look back at the highs and lows of betting action in the AFC West from this past season based on some of the preseason NFL betting odds
Kansas City Chiefs (12-5): Winding Road, Expected Destination
It wasn’t smooth sailing, at all, but the Chiefs managed to win their sixth straight AFC West title despite starting the season 3-4 and looking surprisingly vulnerable. There was concern over how Patrick Mahomes struggled early on and issues with the defense, but Mahomes righted the ship and led Kansas City to a dominant eight-game winning streak and a rather easy division championship.
On the BetUS Sportsbook, the Chiefs were -275 favorites to win the AFC West before the season, so that bet looked dead in the water in October before becoming a lock come December. Kansas City nearly did the unthinkable in covering its 12½ wins over before blowing a big first-half lead to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17. Still, the Chiefs managed to close the season with nine wins in 10 games, but they needed to be perfect to reach the 13-win plateau.
All in all, while it’s not surprising at all that the Chiefs sit at No. 2 in the AFC entering the playoffs, the way Kansas City got there was pretty surprising and the path was filled with way more ups and downs than anyone expected. Still, the Chiefs are as formidable as ever.
Vegas definitely expected a smoother ride from the Chiefs, as Andy Reid’s team went just 8-9 against the spread — thanks to a bunch of closer-than-needed wins. Thanks to the Chiefs’ No. 4 scoring offense, the over went 10-7 in Kansas City’s games, which is less surprising.
Las Vegas Raiders (10-7): Winning Despite Dysfunction
The Raiders have had a pretty crazy season, from firing head coach Jon Gruden in the middle of the season to dealing with multiple arrests and criminal charges levied against key players. So, for Las Vegas to snap a four-year playoff drought and put together just the franchise’s second winning season since 2002 is nothing short of impressive.
Interim coach Rich Bisaccia did a great job with a Raiders team that had a preseason win over/under of 7½, which it exceeded in Week 16. That bet seemed like a lock when Las Vegas started the season 5-2 but optimism faded quickly as the Raiders lost five of their next six games. However, they got hot again and finished the season on a four-game winning streak with Derek Carr leading the way despite star tight end Darren Waller being out since November.
For a while, a division title (+1200 preseason) was in the picture for Las Vegas but the Raiders were happy to settle for a mere playoff berth (+300).
With that said, the Raiders only went 8-9 against the spread, thanks to a remarkable 4-0 overtime record and their penchant for close wins. Las Vegas played nine one-score games and went 7-2 in them.
Los Angeles Chargers (9-8): Just Not Good Enough
For the Chargers, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2018, the 2021 season was one of unfulfilled promise. Justin Herbert demonstrated that he is a star in the making, which is what’s most important. All Los Angeles needed to do to secure a playoff berth was beat (or tie) the Raiders on Sunday night. As the whole sports world knows, the Chargers got so close they could almost taste the postseason but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Based on preseason NFL predictions, Los Angeles was about as good as expected. The Chargers’ win total was nine, which they pushed. Sitting at 8-5 after a blowout win over the New York Giants in Week 14, the Chargers were poised to make the playoffs (+125) and possibly take the division (+600) from the Chiefs or Raiders, but a crazy overtime loss to Kansas City the next week and a brutal defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans the following week ended those hopes.
For Los Angeles, the problem all season was the defense. The Chargers had the fourth-worst scoring defense in football, which negated how good the offense (fifth in scoring and fourth in yards) was. If you can’t get a big stop, it doesn’t matter how good your quarterback and accompanying weapons are.
Not surprisingly, the Chargers went just 8-9 against the spread — par for the course for a team that had huge highs and pretty crushing lows — and the over went 10-7 in their games because of the massive amounts of yardage and points racked up by both Los Angeles and its weekly opponent.
Denver Broncos (7-10): Something Clever
The 2021 Broncos campaign was a combination of four mini-seasons. Denver started on a three-game winning streak that was immediately followed by a four-game losing streak. The Broncos then won four of six to come right on the edge of eclipsing its opening win total number (seven). However, Denver fell flat at the end of the season, losing its final four games.
The betting online public didn’t think the Broncos would make the playoffs — they were -180 to miss it — but when Teddy Bridgewater was playing well and the top-three scoring defense looking dominant, Denver had the feel of a playoff team. The Broncos just couldn’t score enough points and couldn’t find a way to properly utilize all of their young weapons, especially at wide receiver, to get over that hump.
But, it should be said that the Broncos were right in the divisional mix — they were a low +400 to win the AFC West before the year — after Week 14 and with a few breaks their way, especially in that tough Week 16 loss to the Raiders, things could look a lot different.
Now, head coach Vic Fangio is gone and Denver could look outside of the organization for a quarterback solution. The defensive side of things looks very promising for the Broncos — the over being 5-12 in their games is a sign of that — yet the issues under center have to be solved for this team to remain competitive in a brutally tough division going forward.