Welcome to Bet Labs 2016 NFL preview series where we will look at all eight of the league’s divisions. As part of the preview, we will highlight each team’s chances of winning their respective division and take a look at their season win total.
To create our projections we simulated the 2016 NFL season 10,000 times using our NFL Strength of Schedule.
Kansas City Chiefs
2015 Record: 11-5
Home Games: NYJ, NO, JAX, TB, TEN
Away Games: HOU, PIT, IND, CAR, ATL
The Chiefs made the playoffs for a second time in three seasons last year and actually won a game (first since 1993). Optimism is high in KC and the division is open for the taking. Alex Smith gets tagged as a “game manager” but he is an above average quarterback, most teams can’t say the same about their passer. The offense will benefit from the return of Jamaal Charles and the addition of receiver Rod Streater and tackle Mitch Schwartz in free agency. Most of the pieces from the league’s 6th best defense also return.
The oddsmakers have posted Denver as the favorites to win the AFC West but after 10,000 simulations of the 2016 season the Kansas City Chiefs are the most likely division champions (37.0% chance). KC is projected to have a 10-6 record (occurs 19.8% of the time).
|Chiefs O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
Ironically, even though the Broncos are the favorites to win the division, the Chiefs have the higher win total. Kansas City’s season over/under is set at 9.5 games. There would be value in taking the over at +124 or better odds.
2015 Record: 12-4
Home Games: CAR, IND, ATL, HOU, NE
Away Games: CIN, TB, NO, JAX, TEN
Peyton Manning has retired, Brock Osweiler is in Houston and there is a three-way quarterback competition to decide who is under center for the defending champions. A lot can change in an offseason but there is no reason to believe the Broncos will collapse. The team won the Super Bowl last year with below-average quarterback play and can contend in 2016 in the same fashion. The defense, led by Von Miller, will determine how far this team goes.
A high win total isn’t likely, just a 10.9% chance that the team wins 12 or more games like last season. Nor is a losing record, 20.6% chance of winning less than eight games. The most likely result is a 9-7 season, occurs 19.6% of the time.
|Broncos O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
The season win total is set at 9 games for the Broncos. There is no clear play as the betting line matches our projections; however, if you can get the over 9 wins at +116 or better odds there would be value.
2015 Record: 7-9
Home Games: ATL, HOU, CAR, BUF, IND
Away Games: NO, TEN, BAL, JAX, TB
The Raiders enter the season with legitimate hopes of ending a 13-year playoff drought. Derek Carr emerged as a franchise quarterback (32 touchdowns, 13 interceptions last year), Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree combine for one of the best receiver tandems in football and the offensive line could dominate. Khalil Mack is a terrifying defensive threat and leads an improving unit. If everything breaks right for Oakland the team could be on top of the AFC West at the end of the season. However, the numbers suggest the Raiders aren’t ready to take that step. The team is projected to go 8-8 (occurs 19.5% of the time).
|Raiders O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
The bookmakers have set the team’s win total at 8.5 games. There would be value taking the under at odds of -115 or better.
San Diego Chargers
2015 Record: 4-12
Home Games: JAX, NO, TEN, MIA, TB
Away Games: IND, ATL, HOU, CAR, CLE
The Chargers are strong candidates for positive regression. San Diego had a negative turnover differential, a losing record in close games, and underperformed their Pythagorean expectations by nearly two full wins (the most in the NFL). The Chargers will win more games in 2016. Philip Rivers will benefit from the return of Keenan Allen but a lack of a strong running game and a below average defense limits the team’s upside.
In a strong division the Chargers are projected to finish the season 7-9 (20.1% of the time). The season won’t be a total bust (only 10.6% chance of winning 4 or fewer games) but it looks like the team will miss the playoffs for a sixth time in seven years.
|Chargers O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
You need +112 or better odds to bet the over 7 win total for San Diego.
AFC West Division Odds
|Team||Division Win Probabilities|
|Kansas City Chiefs||37.0%|
|San Diego Chargers||7.3%|
Kansas City is in position to win the AFC West for the first time in five years. The Chiefs will have stiff competition from the Broncos and Raiders.
Check back next week when we preview the NFC South.