The AFC West has quickly become one of the toughest divisions to play in the NFL. After the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2016, both the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders have become contenders in the past year. Also, the San Diego Chargers have made strides to become a contender by drafting studs like Joey Bosa. It is safe to say that each team has a chance to blow up this year, so we will breakdown each team’s chances on winning the division and possibly going farther.
Kansas City Chiefs– Previous record 12-4 (1st in the division), record prediction 11-5 (2nd in the division)
The Kansas City Chiefs have been contenders ever since Andy Reid took over in 2013, but the 2016-17 season was the first time that the Chiefs won the West since 2010. The Chiefs won the division with an impressive 6-0 divisional record, which was one of the many impressive feats in the season. Perhaps it was the Chiefs’s stout defense and conservative offense that led them to the divisional wins.
What led to the Chiefs demise is the same reason why the Chiefs may drop in the standings this year. Their inside run defense in atrocious. The Chiefs had a weak inside run defense all year, but when they lost middle linebacker Derrick Johnson to a season ending Achilles injury in Week 13, they had some serious problems. This may lead to a long defensive season for the Chiefs.
The accusation of quarterback Patrick Mahomes III in this year’s draft was a smart move by the Chiefs, but Mahomes is a long-term solution, so he won’t affect the standings for a couple of years. The Chiefs are coming off one of their better seasons in the last couple of years, but with the loss of Jamaal Charles to the Denver Broncos and Marshawn Lynch going home to Oakland makes it a difficult task for the Chiefs to repeat. Safe to say, although it will be tough, the Chiefs will look to defend their divisional title this upcoming season.
Oakland Raiders– previous record 12-4 (2nd in the division), record prediction 12-4 (1st in the division)
The Oakland Raiders success in the 2016 season came out of nowhere. With their previous record being 7-9, no one pegged them to jump from 7 wins to 12 wins. All year, it was a struggle between the Raiders and the Chiefs to maintain control atop the division. It was a struggle until Week 16 when Raiders star quarterback Derek Carr went down for 6-8 weeks after breaking his right fibula.
The Raiders have said that Derek Carr has made a full recovery and is ready to build on his breakout season. The Raiders had two of three things that are needed for a championship run, a great defense and a great air attack. With the addition of former Super Bowl champion running back, Marshawn Lynch, they have the third key part, a substantial rushing game.
The only thing that the Raiders have to worry about is how to put all of this together. The Raiders have the best opportunity to win the division this year, so barring any major injuries, the Raiders might be hoisting the trophy in February.
Denver Broncos– Previous record 9-7 (3rd in Division), record prediction 6-10 (last in division)
Two years removed from a upset super bowl victory, the Denver Broncos have definitely took a step back. The loss of Hall-Of-Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning, is a major reason why this has happened. The Broncos still have a stout defense, but without a decent quarterback and running game, a team can’t go anywhere.
The addition of Jamaal Charles may or may not be helpful since Jamaal has been injured on and off for about three years. The Broncos have surprised the NFL before, but do not count on it this year because in the league with the Patriots, and Raiders if a team does not have a offense, they don’t win..
Los Angeles Chargers– Previous record 5-11 (last in division), record prediction 7-9 (3rd in the division)
Their last year in San Diego was a disappointing one to say the least. The Chargers started off the season with a heartbreaking loss to divisional foe Kansas City Chiefs, and after that they went downhill. On the other hand, they have tons of talent on both sides of the ball that could blow up any season now.
Young players like Joey Bosa and Melvin Gordon may usher in a new era in Los Angeles football. At the end of the day, the Chargers have raw talent that will take time to grow, and until those young players progress, the Chargers will be at best a .500 football team.
The AFC West is quite possibly the best division in football and it may get a lot more interesting this upcoming season. All four teams have tons of things to look forward to and all four teams could shock the AFC and make a deep playoff run. Until the season starts, no one knows, but there is one thing fans should know; things are going to be crazy in the wild, wild west.