2022 Season Reviews: AFC West


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2022 Season Reviews: AFC West

I wanted to do quick-hitting postmortem reports on every team since I spent so much time this summer breaking down all 32 franchises from a betting perspective for the 2022 season. It’s a good way for me to put a bow on the season that just finished while also getting a leg up on my early research for the 2023 season.

AFC West Reviews

1. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Record (ATS): 14-3 (5-11-1)

  • Season Win Total: Over 10.5

  • One-possession Record: 7-3 (3-0 postseason)

  • Postseason Record: 3-0 (2-1 ATS)

  • Super Bowl: +1000

  • Best Record: +900

  • AFC Odds: +550

  • Division Odds: +170

  • Playoff Odds: -225

  • Over/Under record: 8-9

  • PPG: 29.2 (1st)

  • PPG Allowed: 21.7 (16th)

  • Average Scoring Margin: +7.5 (4th)

  • Turnover Differential: -3 (t-22nd)

Season Review

The Chiefs have taken on the mantle as the NFL’s latest dynasty from the Patriots with their second Super Bowl victory in the last four seasons, but they weren’t quite the underdog story that Travis Kelce made them out to be in his post-game comments. Kansas City tied their Super Bowl counterparts, the Eagles, for the NFL’s best record (+900) and won the AFC (+550) and Super Bowl LVII (+1000) at short odds, even after trading away arguably the NFL’s best WR, Tyreek Hill, last off-season. The Chiefs still had Patrick Mahomes on their side, who led the NFL with 5250 passing yards (+800) and 41 passing TDs (+800) on his way to his second MVP award (+800). Mahomes then claimed the Super Bowl MVP (+130) and broke the regular season MVP curse, snapping the recipient’s nine-game losing streak in the Super Bowl that started when Kurt Warner and the Rams fell to the Patriots in Feb. 2002.

The Chiefs moved to a more balanced passing attack behind Kelce and the offense still finished first in scoring offense (29.2 PPG), total offense (413.6 YPG), and passing YPG (297.8). Mahomes is coming off a record-setting season with 5614 total offensive yards, passing Drew Brees' previous record of 5562 yards set in 2011. He finished with 5250 passing yards, 358 rushing, and six receiving yards. Kelce also set new career highs in receptions (110) and receiving TDs (12) while extending his NFL record for most consecutive 1000-yard seasons by a tight end to seven. The Chiefs extended their unprecedented streak of hosting Conference Championship games to five, and they won their third AFC title in that span by beating Joe Burrow and the Bengals for the first time in four tries. HC Andy Reid led the Chiefs to their 10th consecutive winning season since he arrived in Kansas City, but they actually finished with the second-worst ATS record at 5-11-1. The Chiefs locked up their seventh consecutive AFC West title (+170) at the longest preseason odds they’ve faced since 2018. Only the Patriots have won more consecutive division titles than the Chiefs with 11 straight AFC East crowns from 2009-2019.

What to look for this off-season

Sportsbooks have pegged the Chiefs as the favorites to repeat as world champions, and why wouldn’t they be the frontrunners with the NFL’s best quarterback in the fold for years to come. As you might expect for the defending Super Bowl champions, they don’t have any glaring needs to address this off-season. GM Brett Veach’s biggest priority is to lock up free agent tackles Orlando Brown and Andrew Wylie while adding more depth to their offensive line to protect the NFL’s most valuable asset. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl going cheap at wide receiver, but they could use an upgrade at the position with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman set to hit free agency and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore underperforming in their first seasons in the offense. Defensively, Kansas City could use some additional pieces along its defensive line and in its secondary, and Juan Thornhill is searching for his first major payday after finishing up his rookie contract. The Chiefs rank in the middle of the pack in cap flexibility and they’re in a good spot to have an even better roster in 2023 with at least nine draft picks and potentially 2-3 additional compensatory picks.

2. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Record (ATS): 10-7 (11-5-1)
  • Season Win Total: Push 10
  • One-possession Record: 7-5 (0-1 postseason)
  • Postseason Record: 0-1 (0-1 ATS)
  • Playoff Odds: -175
  • Over/Under record: 7-10
  • PPG: 23.0 (13th)
  • PPG Allowed: 22.6 (t-21st)
  • Average Scoring Margin: +.4 (11th)
  • Turnover Differential: +5 (t-7th)

Season Review

The Chargers weren’t quite ready to challenge the Chiefs for the AFC West title like many expected in the off-season, but they reached the postseason (-175 odds) for the first time since 2018 while pushing their season win total of 10. It was Justin Herbert’s first taste of the postseason after they fell just short in the NFL’s season finale against the Raiders in 2021, and he led the Chargers to the second-best ATS record in the AFC at 11-5-1. Herbert and company left the postseason with a bitter taste, blowing a 27-point lead to the Jaguars in the Wild Card Round and becoming the first team to lose a postseason game with a +5 turnover differential or better.

The Chargers have made steady progress with Herbert in the fold, and he became the first quarterback to have six players finish with 500+ receiving yards. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams combined to miss 14 games but Austin Ekeler picked up the slack with a league-high 18 touchdowns to go along with 107 receptions and 1637 scrimmage yards. LT Rashawn Slater earned an All-Pro honor as a rookie in 2021 but missed the final 14 games of his sophomore campaign with a biceps injury. Defensively, the Chargers allowed a whopping 5.42 YPC to opposing run games, which was the highest mark in the Super Bowl era. They also received disappointing returns from big off-season acquisitions Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson. Mack failed to reach double-digit sacks for the fourth straight year and Jackson allowed a whopping 19/370/4 receiving on just 165 coverage snaps (per PFF).

What to look for this off-season

The Chargers decided to give Brandon Staley another season after some rumors that Los Angeles could pursue Sean Payton following a disappointing finish for the second straight year. The Chargers did sever ties with OC Joe Lombardi whose offenses failed to take advantage of Herbert’s downfield passing ability, and they quickly pounced on Kellen Moore to lead their offense after he took the fall for Dallas’ Divisional Round exit. Los Angeles’ top priority will be inking Herbert to a long-term contract, who will be seeking top-of-the-market money alongside his 2020 QB classmate Joe Burrow. His extension may come at the expense of a few key players since the Chargers already have a bottom-10 cap situation, which could mean someone like Mack and Allen could be expendable. It’s going to be tough for Los Angeles to retain top defensive free agents like Drue Tranquil, Bryce Callahan, Kyle Van Noy, and Nasir Adderly. The Chargers could make it three straight years with a first-round pick on their offensive line, but they also need to beef up their defensive line and secondary while adding some much-needed vertical speed at WR.

3. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Record (ATS): 6-11 (8-9)
  • Season Win Total: Under 8.5
  • One-possession Record: 4-9
  • Missed Playoff Odds: -225
  • Over/Under record: 8-9
  • PPG: 23.2 (12th)
  • PPG Allowed: 24.6 (26th)
  • Average Scoring Margin: -1.4 (22nd)
  • Turnover Differential: -8 (30th)

Season Review

The Raiders came nowhere close to making back-to-back playoff appearances (-225 odds) for the first time since the turn of the millennium in 2001-02. Las Vegas had a rocky first season under HC Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler with the franchise finishing its first losing season since 2019. They became the first team to blow five different double-digit leads in the second half in NFL history, and they went 4-9 in one-possession games a year after going 7-2 in those situations in 2021. Las Vegas climbed back into postseason contention after opening the season with a 2-6 mark, but they had a back-breaking loss to the Rams on Thursday Night Football in Week 14 in which they blew a late 13-point lead to Baker Mayfield, who signed with Los Angeles two days earlier.

The Derek Carr era ended two weeks later when he threw three second-half interceptions to squander a lead against the Steelers. Carr saw his completion percentage (68.4%>60.8%) and YPA average (7.7>7.0) plummet in his first season under McDaniels, even with the Raiders making a blockbuster deal for Davante Adams. The former Packers WR still managed to lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 14 (+900) for the second time in the last three years, which gave him a whopping 43 scores in 2020-22. Josh Jacobs also stunned the fantasy world with by far the best season of his career. He paced the league with 1653 rushing yards (+4000) despite the Raiders adding a number of RBs last off-season and McDaniels’ history of using committee backfields. Adams and Jacobs combined for a ridiculous 59.5% of Las Vegas’ scrimmage yards (3568 of 5993) and 65% of their offensive TDs (26 of 40).

What to look for this off-season

The Raiders made it clear they were moving on from Carr after nine seasons and no playoff victories since they drafted him 36th overall in 2014. The Raiders officially released him on Feb. 14 for a hit of $5.6 million in 2023, which helped them avoid $40.4 million in guarantees. They’ll then need to decide if they want to give Jarrett Stidham a legit chance at being the starter, pursue a veteran QB like Jimmy Garoppolo, or start fresh with a rookie quarterback. The Raiders do own the #7 overall pick to go young at the position, which could buy McDaniels and Ziegler an additional year or two after their miserable six-win campaign. The Raiders have a top-10 cap situation even before they free up more than $27 million after moving on from Carr, and they have free agents like Josh Jacobs, Rock Ya-Sin, Andrew Billings, Clelin Ferrell, and Denzel Perryman that they’ll look to keep in the fold. The Raiders need to upgrade the offensive line around their new quarterback, and they’ll look to improve a secondary that allowed the fourth-most passing YPG (242.9).

4. Denver Broncos

  • Record (ATS): 5-12 (7-10)
  • Season Win Total: Under 10
  • One-possession Record: 4-9
  • Missed Playoff Odds: +115
  • Over/Under record: 6-11
  • PPG: 16.9 (32nd)
  • PPG Allowed: 21.1 (t-14th)
  • Average Scoring Margin: -4.2 (27th)
  • Turnover Differential: -1 (t-16th)

Season Review

The Broncos went from having massive expectations before the 2022 season after swinging a blockbuster deal for Russell Wilson to quickly becoming the laughingstock of the league, which ended with the newly-minted Walton-Penner Family ownership group firing their first-year head coach before the end of the season. The Broncos sent a massive package to the Seahawks for Wilson last off-season, which ended up including the ninth and 40th overall picks in 2022 and the fifth and 37th picks in 2023. All the Broncos got in exchange from Russ were career worsts in TD rate (3.3%), completion percentage (60.5%), and QB rating (84.4). It took until Week 17 for him to throw for more TDs than bathrooms (12) in his $25 million Colorado mansion, and the Broncos didn’t score 30+ points in a single game until a meaningless season finale victory over the Chargers.

Denver finished with a losing record for the sixth consecutive season, which ranks behind only the Jets for the longest active streak, and it missed the postseason (+115 odds) for the seventh straight season since winning the Super Bowl in Peyton Manning’s final season in 2015. GM George Paton hired Nathaniel Hackett to potentially lure Aaron Rodgers away from Green Bay before settling on Wilson. Hackett lasted just 15 games before the organization fired him after a 4-11 start, and the Broncos' disjointed offense finished dead last in PPG (16.9) on their way to matching the 2010 team for the most losses (12) in franchise history. The Broncos recouped a first-round pick (at least for a few months) by trading Bradley Chubb to the Dolphins at the trade deadline, and Justin Simmons finished in a four-way tie for the most INTs (+1600).

What to look for this off-season

The Walton-Penner Family officially took over the organization from the Pat Bowlen Trust last year, and they’re already throwing around their Walmart money by swinging for the fences by acquiring Sean Payton and a 2024 third-round pick from the Saints for Denver’s 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick. Payton will be tasked with fixing Denver’s broken offense after the disastrous Hackett experiment and, more importantly, rehabilitating Wilson back to respectability after his precipitous fall from the ranks of the NFL’s top QBs. The Broncos made a five-year, $242.6 million commitment to Wilson with no real outs in the near future so they’re committed to his improvement under Payton. The Broncos won’t pick inside the first two rounds for their acquisitions of Payton and Wilson, which will limit their ability to upgrade their weakest spots along their offensive line and at pass rusher. They’re in a decent cap standing heading into the new league year to help them keep top free agents like Dalton Risner and Kareem Jackson.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 64.3% clip last season and he owned the last undefeated team out of 3000 entries in Scott Fish Bowl 12.