AFC West Roundup: News & Notes

Champ Bailey hopes to be healthy for Thursday's season opener between Denver and Baltimore.

Champ Bailey hopes to be healthy for Thursday’s season opener between Denver and Baltimore.

With a little more than 48 hours until football season kicks off, the newswires, back pages and sports columns are rife with news of every activity taking place in the NFL right now. Last minute tweaks are being made to rosters, while game plans are being reimagined and revamped. Meanwhile, bettors are sifting through odds searching for that one can’t miss bet. It’s time like this that thrives on.

To keep you in the loop, here’s the latest goings on in the AFC West, inclduign surprising quarterback moves, those that made the cut and those that didn’t, and a look ahead to Thursday’s season opener.

Oakland: QB Pryor To Be Starter

Will Terrelle Pryor start for the Raiders?

Will Terrelle Pryor start for the Raiders?

Following on from last week’s news that Terrelle Pryor would start for the Oakland Raiders in the final game of the preseason, reports are now surfacing that the third year quarterback will resume the starting role when the Raiders visit the Indianapolis Colts in this Sunday’s season opener.

Although Head coach Dennis Allen has yet to officially name this week’s starter, both the San Francisco Chronicle and NFL Network are reporting that Pryor will get the nod ahead of Matt Flynn, who the Raiders procured in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.

The news that Pryor is expected to start will come as a surprise to some, particularly as Pryor was hardly outstanding against the Seahawks last Thursday. The quarterback hopeful was just 3 for 8 for 31 yards with two sacks and an interception.

Some believe the Raiders to be involved in some good old-fashioned skullduggery, with suggestions that Allen is merely trying to deceive the Colts ahead of Sunday’s kickoff. As The Oakland Tribune is quick to point out though, this very philosophy blew up in the faces of former Raiders coaches Lane Kiffin (2007), Tom Cadel (2010) and Hue Jackson (2011). Expect there to be more twists in this story before 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

The Raiders are underdogs heading into Week 1, hardly surprising for a team expected to finish in the bottom three of the league this season. Comprehensive odds and trends for the Raiders-Colts game can be found here.

Kansas City: Ivy League Linebacker Earns Spot

Linebacker Josh Martin earned a spot with the Chiefs.

Linebacker Josh Martin earned a spot with the Chiefs.

Remember how the world went crazy for Ivy Leaguer Jeremy Lin back in 2012? Well, the NFL may be about to see its own wave of academia-gone-wild as the Kansas City Chiefs handed over a roster spot to undrafted rookie linebacker Josh Martin.

Martin left Columbia University in Manhattan this spring after the Lions finished the 2012 season 3-7, second from bottom in the Ivy League. So began the long journey and arduous road to the NFL. After mini-camps, practices and preseason games, Martin impressed Head Coach Andy Reid enough to take one of the 53 spots available.

But one Ivy Leaguer isn’t enough for the Chiefs. Fellow linebacker Mike Catapano played his college ball at Princeton. The Kansas City Star has the full story.

Kansas City opens the season with a trip to north Florida and a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs opened as the favorite on the moneyline, but even on the spread. The latest odds are available here.

San Diego: Veteran Starks Cut

Max Starks was released by the Chargers.

Max Starks was released by the Chargers.

Veteran tackle Max Starks was amongst those cut by the San Diego Chargers this past Saturday. The 30-year-old had been looking to earn a roster spot having departed the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent this past offseason.

Tom Krasovic of the Union-Times San Diego explains in depth why the Chargers’ front office has elected to move forward without Starks, who has nine years of NFL experience. In short, Starks was run ragged during San Diego’s 41-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in last Thursday’s preseason finale, which didn’t help the cause of a player that was already playing for his proverbial livelihood.

After being drafted in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft (75th overall), Starks played 123 regular season games for the Steelers, including 96 starts. He also played in eight postseason games, including the Steelers’ 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals at Super Bowl XLIII.

Starks had signed a one-year deal with the Chargers back on May 21.

The Chargers begin their season by hosting the Houston Texans on Monday night. The Chargers opened as the underdog. Odds and trends for the game can be found here.

Denver: Broncos Favored Over Ravens


Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
Thursday, September 5, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Denver Broncos will have the honor of kicking off the 2013 season this Thursday night as the team hosts the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

While much has been made of Ravens and Joe Flacco posters placed around the city, the Broncos are unlikely to allow such a trivial issue put them off their ultimate goal: to win Super Bowl XLVIII. With just 48 hours to go until the curtain raiser, the Broncos remain joint favorites with the 49ers to lift the Lombardi trophy in February.

Cornerback Champ Bailey missed practice on Monday but is expected to be available to start Thursday’s NFL Kickoff game. The Broncos also cut veteran center Ryan Lilja over the weekend. Lilja had previously played with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis between 2004 and 2009, but failed enough to earn a roster spot.

Still, with Manning at the helm, a solid set of receivers, and a seemingly overabundance of running backs, the Broncos look offensively set heading into the season. The defense, which will be without the likes of Justin Bannan, Elvis Dumervil, Tracy Porter, Ty Warren and D.J. Williams, all offseason departures, may be a work in progress though. We’ll find out on Thursday.

The latest Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos odds for 9/5/13 are available from now.

Denver (-440) opened as the favorite over Baltimore (+365) on the moneyline. The point spread was originally set at 7.5 in favor of Denver, but with two days until kickoff it sits anywhere between 7.5 and 9.5, depending which sportsbook you pick. The over/under opened at 49.5 but has subsequently dropped to 48 with most bookmakers.

Kickoff for Thursday’s season opener at Sports Authority Field at Mile High is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.

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