Three of the four teams in the very tough AFC West know who their starting quarterback will be Week 1 of the regular season. Only the Denver Broncos don’t, but that decision could come soon. Here’s a look around the division with NFL odds to win it.
NFL | Update AFC West 2021
Kansas City Chiefs (-280)
Kansas City might open the season without center Austin Blythe. He will miss three weeks after undergoing sports hernia surgery over the weekend. The timeline gives Blythe a slight chance to return without missing games. Signed to a one-year, $3.9 million contract in March, Blythe is being counted on to improve an interior line that started Daniel Kilgore and Austin Reiter at center last season. Starting RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire left Friday’s preseason game with what head coach Andy Reid described as a “slight” ankle sprain. Edwards-Helaire had three carries for 13 yards and one catch for ten yards with KC’s first-team offense before exiting with the ankle issue. If the injury lingers and CEH were to miss any regular season time, Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon would likely split work in the KC backfield. Edwards-Helaire missed the end of the 2020 season with a high-ankle sprain suffered against the New Orleans Saints but did return for the Chiefs‘ games against the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl, respectively.
Los Angeles Chargers (+500)
You may want to steer clear of the Chargers in terms of a fantasy football running back. Bolts head coach Brandon Staley said the team will use a “variety” of backs this year. Austin Ekeler remains the lead back but will cede some rushing work to other LA backs like rookie Larry Rountree, whom the team is high on. Ekeler in 2020 accounted for 42 percent of the team’s rushing attempts in his 10 full games. Those hoping to get a look at QB Justin Herbert, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, will have to wait until the regular season as Staley will not play him in the preseason. Chargers teammates are expecting even more out of Herbert after the quarterback’s impressive rookie season in 2020. He exploded onto the scene last year with 4,336 passing yards, a rookie-record 31 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in 15 starts. “He’s a better ball player, if that’s even possible,” receiver Keenan Allen said.
Denver Broncos (+550)
When will Broncos coach Vic Fangio name Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater as the Week 1 starting QB? It was thought he might early this week, but the second preseason game clouded things a bit. Bridgewater got the start in the win over Seattle and played two series. Lock handled five series. It amounted to 23 snaps for Bridgewater and 29 for Lock. Bridgewater completed nine of 11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Lock completed nine of 14 passes for 80 yards (136.74 rating). Bridgewater led the offense to two touchdowns on his two drives (79.46 rating). Lock led the offense to nine points (three field goals). “Both of these guys have done well,” Fangio said. “We can play and win with either one of these guys, and that’s a good thing.” Overall this preseason, Bridgewater has completed 84.2% of his passes, averaged 9.4 yards per attempt, and has led a Denver offense that has scored 24 points in his 40 snaps. Lock hasn’t been quite as accurate (completing a still-respectable 66.7% of his attempts), but more dynamic. His average YPA (yards per attempt) this preseason is 17% higher than Bridgewater’s. The Broncos have scored 23 points in his 49 snaps.
Las Vegas Raiders (+1600)
Starting linebacker Nicholas Morrow could miss the start of the season. He left practice over the weekend with an ankle injury and his timetable is TBA. Morrow started 11 games last year and registered 78 tackles, three sacks, one interception and one forced fumble in 14 total appearances. Starting guard Richie Incognito also went down injured. “We think he has a calf strain and we hope he’s ready for the opener,” Coach Jon Gruden said. “But we don’t believe it’s serious, not Achilles tendon related at all. But it’s a calf injury and we’ll keep you updated, but right now he’ll be out for at least a week or so.” John Simpson would step in for him at left guard if Incognito isn’t ready for Week 1.