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Breaking down the odds to win the AFC West ahead of free agency

After back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, the Chiefs enter free agency as the odds-on favorites to win the AFC West crown again.

Is Las Vegas ready to move on from Derek Carr?

NFL free agency kicks off in earnest in just under two weeks. With the 2021 salary cap expected to fall from last year’s figure by a significant amount, teams have already begun the process of trimming the fat from their rosters in order to reach compliance before the deadline arrives.

But while free agency will produce considerably player movement as always, some teams will look largely the same due to cap restraints. The recently published divisional odds from DraftKings Sportsbook takes those factors into consideration. These odds provide a deeper look into the perceived hierarchy of each division and how much upside certain teams have within them.

While some division exhibit a reasonably high likelihood of change from the previous year, the AFC West has one clear favorite and a bunch of teams ostensibly competing for second place.

Kansas City Chiefs: -455

After winning the AFC in each of the last two seasons, the Chiefs appear to have the clearest road back to a division title of any AFC West team. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes expects to recover fully from his offseason foot surgery in time for training camp while the rest of the roster doesn’t appear likely to change much from 2020. Though the Chiefs lost Super Bowl LV in disappointing fashion, perhaps no team in the entire league looks as primed for a title run at this point in the offseason.

Los Angeles Chargers: +525

While the Chiefs hold considerable advantages over the other teams in the division, the Chargers seem to have the best chance of upsetting the balance. That stems largely from second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year and the centerpiece of the Chargers’ roster. Herbert hasn’t reached Mahomes’ level of dominance and might never do so, but his ceiling appears extremely high. Paired with a defense that returns Derwin James, Joey Bosa, and other stars, Los Angeles has plenty of reasons for optimism.

Las Vegas Raiders: +1400

Jon Gruden’s second tenure as head coach of the Raiders — now located in Las Vegas — hasn’t produced the results the team’s management anticipated. The Raiders have yet to reach the playoffs during Gruden’s current run and lost five of their final seven games last season to blow a playoff berth. The Raiders made chances on the defensive staff this offseason, hiring Gus Bradley to coordinator the unit. However, until the defensive talent improves, the Raiders will have a difficult time breaking through.

Denver Broncos: +1500

Since the offseason began, John Elway has moved out of the general-manager role and into a less hands-on position, leaving the day-to-day responsibilities to the recently hired George Paton. Still, this remains the same Broncos organization that has plenty of talent but also numerous questions to answer this year. Quarterback Drew Lock, head coach Vic Fangio, and other key parts of the team have little security in this make-or-break season.

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