(CBS Denver) — The Kansas City Chiefs owned the AFC West last season. And they’re threatening to do it again. At the midway point, the Chiefs sit at 7-1, comfortably ahead of the 4-3 Las Vegas Raiders and the rest of the division. The inconsistent Raiders are the only team to knock off the Chiefs this season. A rematch awaits in Week 11. But this week the Chiefs host the reeling Panthers, losers of three straight.
The Denver Broncos are coming off a stunning comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers. But until the third quarter, the game appeared to be a repeat of the throttling they took against the Chiefs the week before. The Broncos will seek out a little consistency this week in a very winnable matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Raiders, who play the Chargers, will look to keep pace with the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Chargers hope to put last week’s second-half collapse behind them. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert could do some damage against this Raiders team. But he’ll have to keep pace with the more consistent Derek Carr, who will be looking to have a more productive outing than he did last week.
SportsLine‘s Kenny White, the Wizard of Odds, breaks down AFC West matchups in Week 9.
All times listed are Eastern.
Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Not only do the Chiefs have the inside track on another division title, they’re Super Bowl favorites. According to White, “at the beginning of the year, kind of back and forth between [Kansas City] and Baltimore, who would be. But Kansas City is the clear-cut favorite now, just ahead of Tampa Bay and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Kansas City Chiefs are plus three dollars to win the Super Bowl right now. So one dollar wins you three dollars on every bet you would make for the Chiefs to win it.”
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Carolina faces much longer odds of making the postseason. It doesn’t help that they share the NFC South with the Tampa Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. “If you’re in the division with two of the five best teams, and now you’re playing maybe the best team in football this week. Longshot odds for Carolina, plus 10 to 1 to make the playoffs this year. If you do not think the Panthers will make the playoffs, it’s minus 2000, which means betting $20 to win one single dollar, if you think the Panthers will be sitting home during the playoffs.”
This week’s Panthers-Chiefs matchup won’t necessarily determine either team’s postseason fate. But it remains a somewhat lopsided matchup, as the double-digit spread suggests. The Chiefs have won three straight, all convincingly. The Panthers have lost three straight, including handing the Atlanta Falcons only their second win last week. “Carolina does get their star running back Christian McCaffrey back this weekend, which will be a big help,” White says. “Chris Jones for Kansas City will play. That’s their best defensive player. 10.5 points is a lot of points in the NFL. We’re talking about which team does this game mean more to. And I think it means more to Carolina. So I’m going to take Carolina Panthers plus 10.5.”
Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
The Broncos pulled off a surprising comeback in Week 8, downing the division-rival Chargers with a 21-point fourth quarter. It was quite a turn of events from their loss at home to the Chiefs. And while Denver’s odds of making a postseason run remain somewhat long, they have improved.
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“Before last week’s big win, [the Broncos odds of making the playoffs] looked more like what we talked about the Carolina Panthers,” says White. “But now they’re down, a little better odds for Broncos fans, six to one to make the playoffs; minus eight dollars, lay eight dollars to win one dollar that no for the Broncos. But that’s a tough division. You’re in Kansas City’s division, and the Raiders have played better this year too. A little more hope in Denver after last week.”
They’ll get a chance to improve those odds once again this Sunday in Atlanta. Can they leverage some momentum from last week’s big win against an improving Falcons team? “You always have to follow travel and games and emotions of these teams,” White points out. “And Denver, coming off a big win, then traveling across country, playing an Atlanta team who’s won two of their last three games since they made a coaching change. And that one game that they lost was by one point. So I’m going to take the Atlanta Falcons minus four in this game this weekend.”
Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, November 8, 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
The Raiders draw another tough matchup when they head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers, with red-hot rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. “Wasn’t even projected to be the starter at the beginning of the year,” says White. “Their starter Tyrod Taylor had a rib injury in Week 1. Herbert didn’t even know he was going to start on gameday, and he did. He’s been the starter all season. He is the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, minus $1.80. Joe Burrow for Cincinnati is the second favorite at plus three dollars. Justin Herbert, great job so far. You are the leader in the clubhouse right now.”
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Herbert and the Chargers will be looking to prevent another second-half collapse and improve on a disappointing 2-5 record. The Raiders had a solid win over the Cleveland Browns, but need to keep winning to have any hope of catching the Chiefs.
“Both of these teams have changed cities in the last three years,” White points out. “And they were big rivals when they were in San Diego and Oakland. This will be the first time Las Vegas vs. LA. Big game for both teams. It is a pick ’em. I’m going to go with the Chargers after a tough loss last week. And the Raiders are coming off a win. So I’ll take the Los Angeles Chargers.”
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