The last but certainly not the least division in the AFC would be the AFC West. The AFC West is home to the Kansas City Chiefs who have been kings of the AFC the last two years. The other three teams in this division aren’t cakewalks either. Denver has one of the best defenses in the league. Las Vegas have the potential to shock a few if they avoid doing Raider things. The Chargers have an up-and-coming QB by the name of Justin Herbert who looks like a future star. The west traditionally produces some great games and this season should see more of the same. Let’s see how they will stack up with each other.
Kansas City Chiefs
Having reached the Super Bowl the last two years, its not hard to see why they are favorites to make it three straight. The reason for this of course is because the Chiefs still have superstar QB Patrick Mahomes. Once again Mahomes is poised to have a monster season as all of his favorite weapons are returning. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill will receive most of the attention, but keep an eye out for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The second year back had a bit of a disappointing rookie season. He has all the tools for a breakout second season which could raise this offense to yet another level.
To have such a great offense usually means there’s a cost in another aspect of the game. For Kansas City that cost usually involves the defense. That isn’t to say this unit is devoid of talent. Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu are just a few names that come to mind who are real quality players. However, the defense does have several weak spots that opposing teams will be sure to exploit. Despite the defense, this team’s expectations will once again be to win the Super Bowl. Anything less will be deemed a failure, but you can be sure they have the inside track on winning the division yet again.
Los Angeles Chargers
The days of Philip Rivers are well and truly behind this franchise. For the first time in a long time, they saw what life was like without Rivers last season. What transpired was the emergence of a new franchise QB in the form of Justin Herbert. Herbert was absolutely fantastic last season and if he can build on an impressive rookie season there’s no reason that he can’t be a top 10 QB by season’s end. The Chargers made it a point to invest in their young QB by spending this offseason upgrading his offensive line. Giving him better protection should only increase the likelihood that Herbert has a big year.
The defense ranked in the bottom third of the league last season and was a good reason why the team finished 7-9. New Head Coach Brandon Staley was brought in particularly due to his defensive background. He was the architect to the Ram’s league leading defense last season and will be looking to bring his magic touch here. Just with Staley being able to work with this unit should mean an improvement. The defense has the talent and potential to take a sizeable leap which could bold well for their playoff chances. The last four years have been dominated by the Chiefs, but if anyone can topple them it will be the Chargers.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are led by Head Coach Jon Gruden who’s best known for his ESPN segment of Gruden grinders. The Raiders are in an interesting position because they at times show glimpses of being competitive, but then they find ways to fail. Derek Carr represents this more than any other player on this team. At times he looks like a true franchise QB and at other times you wonder how much longer this team will stick with him. That being said look for running back Josh Jacobs to lead this offense. His success will go a long way towards whether or not the offense can put up points.
Another year removed from the Khalil Mack trade and the defense continues to suffer. The Raiders were one of the worst teams in the league in defense last season. So, this offseason the Raiders made it a point to improve their defense. The signings of Yannick Ngakoue and Casey Hayward should help with that goal, but they should still end up being one of the bottom defenses of the league. Las Vegas have an outside chance of making the playoffs, but its more likely that they miss out on the playoffs yet again.
One of the major things holding back this team is their lack of offense. Denver raised some eyebrows this offense when they passed on a few QBs in the draft. Instead, they once again are relying on Drew Lock to run the offense. He managed to lead the team to the fifth worst offense in the league last season. A repeat performance will surely spell the end of his time in Denver as well as another disappointing season overall. The Broncos do have a pretty exciting group of young receivers. The hope is that they one day find a QB who can elevate them to their true potentials.
On paper this should be one of the best defenses in the league. Unfortunately for Denver, games aren’t played on paper and this unit has failed to live up to expectations the last two years. The franchise chose to skip over drafting a new QB and instead took Patrick Surtain II. He has all the skills to be one of the premier cornerbacks sooner rather than later. Adding him to the mix of Bradley Chubb, Kyle Fuller and Von Miller should be a recipe for a dominant defense. Whether or not they can fully live up to the hype remains to be seen. To be fair, part of their effectiveness will come down to how well the offense does. Either way this should be another quiet season for Bronco fans as there just isn’t a current solution to the QB position.