Mr. Royal covers today in the next segment of his NFL preview series.

AFC West Preview: Let’s Not Overthink This Whole Football Thing

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As I have mentioned before, I plan on actually betting money on football this year because like every other idiot who bets money on football, I somehow think I’m smarter than the Vegas people.

I’m not. I plan on re-reading this months from now and slapping myself in the face.

But you have to have a plan of attack. Set limits to your stupidity. For example, I’m only allowed to bet x dollars per week and lose a total of y dollars before I give up. Also, set up a series of rules for smart betting strategy. Today I would like to establish my first rule:

Royal Betting Rule #1: Never, ever, ever bet against Peyton Manning in the regular season.

Because you see these betting odds on the AFC West from the LVH books and you think, “Well, I mean, the Chiefs were the hottest team in football last year… at those odds they’re at least worth a small wager just in case, right?”

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You will lose. Peyton will win. Let’s not overcomplicate this whole football thing.

Excluding his rookie year, Manning is 164-60 in the regular season as a starter. He’s 26-6 as a Bronco. He’s thrown for 10,136 yards, 92 touchdowns, and 21 INT’s in two seasons as a Bronco. He’s a winner, folks. The craziest part about this guy is that most scouts say that had Manning worked out at the 2014 NFL Combine this year, he would have underwhelmed. The arm isn’t what it used to be. He doesn’t have a cannon. In all honesty, Eli can physically make throws that Peyton just can’t make right now. And yet Peyton will get drafted in the first round of your fantasy league this year and Eli might be a solid backup choice in the 12th. Because Peyton is smarter, and he knows how to get more out of his body than anyone else.

And that is why Peyton Manning isn’t worried at all. That’s right. After the most embarrassing Super Bowl performance I’ve ever seen, Peyton Manning is dancing his way into the 2014 NFL Season.

http://deadspin.com/peyton-manning-dances-up-a-dorky-storm-1612138365/all

4th Place: Oakland Raiders (5-11) Divisional Record (1-5)

Look I just can’t take the annual offseason of NFL analysts shaking their heads saying, “Well, the Raiders can’t get any worse, so they kind of have to get better, right?”

No. That’s the dumbest logic ever. I’m actually angry at myself now for giving them five wins because it’s a game more than they got last year.

I say this about Dallas too. They go 8-8 every friggin year and yet each year I’m supposed to be like, “Oh, but they’re so much more talented than their record always shows.” Cool, thanks. I think I’ll parlay the Oakland going 5-11 or worse with the Cowboys going 8-8 every year for the next forever, please.

Look, I guess I’ll do some football analysis here. Sure, as with every year, Oakland could be better this year. Schaub is a step up at QB, James Jones is a good wideout, Lamarr Woodley, Carlos Rogers, and Justin Tuck will all improve that defense.

But Oakland has to play the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers twice and the only bad teams on their schedule are Buffalo, Cleveland, and Houston.

To accurately sum up the Oakland Raiders, I direct your attention to owner Mark Davis who LITERALLY said, “I think we’ve got some football players. At that last mandatory camp, it looked like we had a team.”

Brilliant way to draw in customers, Mark!! The 2014 Oakland Raiders: “We’ve got a team with some football players!”

3rd Place: San Diego Chargers (Overall: 7-9) (Divisional Record: 2-4)

Is there a more depressing story in the NFL than Philip Rivers? I know what you’re thinking, it’s hard to feel bad for a guy making $10 mil plus at 32 years old who plays football for a living in San Diego, California. But consider the Philip Rivers Story… My next 30 for 30 after The Michael Vick Project

The New York Giants have to settle for Philip Rivers with the 4th overall pick after the San Diego Chargers draft Eli Manning with the #1 overall pick.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJT4s5COX4Q

There’s only one problem, Eli detested San Diego so much, he straight up said he wouldn’t play for the Chargers and basically forced a trade for himself to New York for Rivers, and –

Wait. This sounds familiar.

Oh, that’s right. One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time refused to be drafted by Ernie Accorsi’s Baltimore Colts and forced a pretty crappy trade for a bunch of guys who weren’t all that bad, but none of which were JOHN FREAKING ELWAY.

Funny story, Ernie Accorsi goes on to become the New York Giants GM from 1998 to 2007. His most famous move? You guessed it. Trading away Philip Rivers, a first, third, and fifth round pick for Eli Manning.

Who did those picks turn into? Nate Kaeding (Pro Bowl kicker), Shawne Merriman (Pro Bowl linebacker), and Roman Oben (starting OT). Eli was ridiculed in San Diego and Rivers and Roethlisberger looked like the best two picks of the 2004 Draft. So yea, in the short term it looked like the Chargers robbed the Giants blind.

The rest of the story is where it gets kind of sad for Rivers and Chargers fans everywhere. Rivers has a better career passer rating, completion percentage, and has thrown less INT’s than Eli, and yet Eli has two Super Bowl rings and probably six more seasons to get a third and a guaranteed trip into the HOF. No one cares who Roman Oben is anymore, Shawne Merriman steroided his way out of the NFL, and last I checked Nate Kaeding never learned how to play a position that actually mattered in football.

When asked if he overpaid for Eli in 2004, Ernie Accorsi reflected on Elway in 1982 saying:

“I just believe that you can get by if you have to, but if you have a chance to pick what you think is a quarterback for the ages, you have to go after him because you’re not going to get that many opportunities in your life. It’s not any big, cryptic mystery why I feel that way. I’ve been around great ones. I know what they mean… You can’t give up too much for Elway. You can’t overpay DiMaggio.”

But Rivers looks damn good in that bolo tie.

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Second Place: Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) (Divisional Record: 4-2)

If you’ve read my stuff before you know I’ve never been an Andy Reid guy. Good regular season coach, never quite figured out the playoffs (despite many, many opportunities). Maybe that’s why I’m only giving this Chief’s team nine wins this year.

Only nine wins? That seems crazy.

If Dee Ford cracks the starting lineup, we could see a pass rush consisting of he and two Pro Bowler linebackers: Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. That’s nothing to laugh at, and it certainly shouldn’t translate into a drop in the win-loss column. And Eric Berry is still Eric Berry. So the defense certainly isn’t helping out my 9-7 argument.

What about the offense? The Chiefs did the right thing and paid Jamaal Charles the money he deserves for being the NFL’s greatest workhorse not named Adrian Peterson. Alex Smith silenced most of his critics last year by leading a previously terrible Chiefs team to a 9-0 start last year. He doesn’t throw picks, and it works for him. Alex Smith wins football games. And he has two solid receivers to throw to in Donnie Avery and Dwayne Bowe.

So why do I think the Chiefs will go only 9-7? And why does Vegas give them the same odds as the Chargers to win that division next year?

I think a lot of people may overlook the way the Chiefs finished the season last year. After a BYE week, the Chiefs followed up their undefeated record with a 2-5 finish. Their two wins came against Oakland and the Redskins, who were just awful last year. In their three wins before the BYE week, they beat Houston (terrible) and Cleveland (terrible) by one and six points, respectively and pulled off a very strange win against Buffalo where they scored two defensive touchdowns: a fumble recovery for TD and a 100-yard pick-six from their endzone. Buffalo had 470 total yards offensively, KC had 210.

And who can forget the Chiefs’ absolute meltdown against Indy in the playoffs? It was epic. So where you see an 11-5 record, I see a hot start with a lot of luck along the way followed by an absolute meltdown during the second half of the season and the playoffs.

First Place: Denver Broncos (12-4) (Divisional Record: 5-1)

The romantic football fan in me tells me to bet on Luck and the Colts upsetting the Broncos in Indianapolis on opening weekend. But my Peyton rule won’t allow me to do something so foolish. Plus, Peyton’s seven-TD performance on opening night last year is forever burned into my memory. It proved two things to me: 1) If you give Peyton Manning an entire offseason to prepare for anyone he will win; and 2) The “Don’t Bet Against Peyton Manning” Rule works.

The only other losses I could see the Broncos suffering next year are @ Seattle, @ New England, vs. Arizona (and that’s an upset), and maybe they split games with either San Diego (they play @San Diego at the end of the year when they’ll already have clinched a playoff spot) or KC (playing @ KC Week 13). So 11-5 wouldn’t shock me, but neither would 13-3.

A quick recap of the Broncos’ offseason: Emmanuel Sanders, Demarcus Ware, TJ Ward, and Aqib Talib are now Broncos and they only really lost Decker and DRC. So basically take last year’s team, add all those dudes I just listed, remember that Peyton still has Thomas, Welker, and the other Thomas to throw to, and he’s still Peyton Manning (see intro). So yea, a $100 bet on the Broncos at 1:4 odds is still a WAY better than a $10 bet on any of the other teams to win the division despite the potential bigger payout. Because in the Broncos’ bet, you’re going to win $25, and in the other bet you’re kind of just handing Vegas $10.

The 2014 Denver Broncos motto: “Better Players. Better Football. Peyton Manning.”

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