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AFC West Division Futures

7-22-09

The AFC West looks like it’s San Diego’s division to lose, but does that mean football betting picks nation should wager the farm on the Chargers to claim the division?

Just a year ago the Chargers were heading into the 2008 season as huge divisional favorites. The Chargers made good on those odds by winning the division, but it wasn’t the runaway title win it was supposed to be. After a miserable and somewhat unlucky start to the season the Chargers won their last four games to finish 8-8 and just barely edged out the Denver Broncos.

San Diego is by far the class of the division this season and the oddsmakers agree after setting them as a -300 favorite on the NFL odds. Offensively the Chargers are unmatched in the division and rank among the most talented units in the league. Philip Rivers may have got beat by a high school kid at his summer camp, but he’s still ranks among the best signal callers in the league. People may be starting to question how much LaDainian Tomlinson has left after a disappointing 2008 season. Injuries are partly to blame for his drop in production, but even if LT has lost a gear that just means more carries for speedster Darren Sproles. The receiving corps isn’t just Antonio Gates anymore, either. Vincent Jackson arrived as a No. 1 receiver last year, and if Gates can stay healthy the passing attack should be even more lethal this season.

It looks like the only thing that could possibly keep the Chargers from repeating as division champs are a few unfortunate injuries or an unexpected rise from someone else in the division. The only other team in the West the oddsmakers are even giving a chance at running down the Chargers are the Broncos at +400.

To say it was a tumultuous offseason in Denver would be an understatement. Head coach Mike Shanahan was canned and his replacement, Josh McDaniels, alienated QB Jay Cutler. That breakdown led to Cutler being shipped to Chicago and Kyle Orton taking over as the team’s QB. Brandon Marshall also appeared to be gone due to a contract dispute, but so far he’s still a Bronco. If Marshall does end up staying he’ll continue to form a nice duo with Eddie Royal, but will they have the same success with Orton that they had with Cutler? The biggest question mark for Denver is still their defense, which ranked among the worst in the league last season. If they continue to give up nearly 30 points a game again this season it may not matter how well Orton performs.

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