Denver Broncos – After going 12-4 each of the prior two seasons and 13-3 three years ago, the Broncos are in for quite a drop this year as I don’t expect them to reach double digits in victories. The offense was certainly not the strength for Denver last season but it quickly has gone from “middle of the pack” to “significant concern” as Peyton Manning has retired and Brock Osweiler is now in Houston. The Broncos have a “question mark” with Mark Sanchez at QB and rookie Paxton Lynch is certainly going to take time to develop. On defense the Broncos will still be solid but, even there; some drop-off is expected as they lost a couple of key starters in free agency. After going 27-19-2 ATS in regular season action the last three seasons, I expect to see some solid ATS value in going against the Broncos early and often this season.
Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs now “have their shot” after playing ‘second-fiddle’ to the Broncos in the AFC West each of the last three seasons. However, Kansas City is not without some concerns of their own. KC lost not just one, not even just two, but three starters from the offensive line in the off-season. Continuity on the offensive line is so important that this could certainly be an early-season “issue” for Kansas City. Certainly it will be something to keep an eye on early in the schedule. One thing that could help KC is a relatively favorable early season schedule but even if they get some SU wins and I expect to see some spots with ATS value in going against them. The adds they made on defense in the draft will take some time to contribute and they did lose quite a lot of depth on the defensive side of the ball. The Chiefs were plus-14 in turnovers (29-15) last year so they had some “good fortune” to say the least and that has a way of turning around from year to year! The ball is likely to bounce the “other way” this season.
Oakland Raiders – With Derek Carr at QB the Raiders are “dangerous” on offense and it often gives them that chance at “back door cover” potential. Coming into this season, with some upgrades on defense, the Raiders could jump up a little again after improving from 3-13 two seasons ago to 7-9 last year. Getting to .500 is certainly in Oakland’s sights after improving their secondary and linebacking corps through free agency and strengthening the overall depth on defense through the draft. In particular, I would look for the Raiders to improve their ATS results at home this season after a dismal 2-6 ATS showing on their home turf last year.
San Diego Chargers – The Chargers are a team that I could be looking at more in terms of value with their O/U’s than with their spreads this season. San Diego has been an ‘under’ team in terms of totals in recent seasons but with the offense staying solid (led by Phillip Rivers) and the defense in for a drop-off (departure of Eric Weddle and other significant starters), this team could be in for some explosive, high-scoring games. This could be particularly true early this season as there will most certainly be an “adjustment phase” on the defensive side of the ball. It is likely to be another tough season in San Diego (4-12 last year) but at least their games should be very entertaining if you like offense.