The AFC West has been dominated by the Raiders and Broncos.
- Denver has won 3 Super Bowls and 15 division championship.
- The Raiders have won 3 Super Bowls and 12 division championships.
- The Chargers won the AFC Championship in 1994 and went on to lose the Super Bowl 49-26, to the San Francisco 49ers.
- The Last time the Chiefs appeared in a Super Bowl, January 11th, 1970.
AFC West Preview and Prediction:
Los Angeles Chargers (2017 record, 9-7) Prediction 11-5:
Every year, the Chargers have a 3 week stretch where they look like the best team in the NFL. They also have a 3 game stretch where they look like the worst team in the NFL.
I can’t believe I am predicting them to win this division…but I am. Phillip Rivers had a great season in 2017. He threw for 4,515 yards, 28 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Rivers avoided the big turn over for most of the year. He has tremendous help on offense. Keenan Allen had 102 catches, 1,393 yards and 6 touchdowns. Running back, Melvin Gordon had over 1,400 combined yards with 12 touchdowns. The Chargers were ranked 24th in the NFL in rushing but they added Center Mark Pouncey and that will help them.
The Chargers general manager give his defensive a huge boost. Tom Telesco took safety Derwin James, pass rusher Uchenna Nwosu, defensive tackle Justin Jones and linebacker Kyzir White. Joe Bosa had 70 total tackles and 12.5 sacks. Pro Bowl Cornerback, Casey Hayward, is one of the best defensive backs that no one talks about. This team should be able to score a ton of points and they should be able to get a ton of “three and outs” on defense.
Oakland Raiders (2017 record, 6-10) Prediction 10-6:
The Raiders gave Jon Gruden a 10-year, $100 million contract. I think this was a tremendous mistake. Gruden hasn’t coached since 2008. I like the hire, not that contract. The Raiders should have given him a 5-year deal. The man they call, “Chucky” has a reputation of wearing players thin. This means, after a few years, he loses the locker room. For all of Gruden’s accolades, he has a regular season record of 95-81 and 5-4 in the playoffs. The good news for the Raiders, they have tremendous play-makers on both sides of the ball.
Quarterback Derek Carr was an MVP candidate before he was injured in 2016. Carr is a 3-time pro-bowl player and has 103 touchdowns and 44 interceptions for his career. When healthy he can carry the team. Both WR’s Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson could make the pro-bowl. The Raiders offensive line, left guard Kelechi Osemele, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and left tackle Donald Penn. Rookie Kolton Miller, the 15th overall pick,could be an elite group. Look for Marshawn Lynch to have a more prominent role. Gruden loves big backs and the “gound and pound” game.
The Raiders finished 23rd in overall defense in 2017. When healthy, Khalil Mack is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. The Raiders secondary is brand new. Cornerbacks David Amerson and Sean Smith were released, and T.J. Carrie left as a free agent. Too many question marks on defense for this team to win their division.
Kansas City Chiefs (2017 record, 9-7) Prediction 9-7:
The Patrick Mahomes era officially begun in Kansas City. Gone is Alex Smith and Mahomes will take over under center.
Mahomes is probably the best pure passer Andy Reid has ever coached. He is 6’3 235lbs and has tremendous potential. Mahomes offense should be one of the fastest in the NFL. WR’s, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins can outrun almost every defense back. Travis Kelce could be Mahomes safety net. Kelce had 83 catches, 1,038 yard and 8 touchdowns in 2017. Running back Kareem Hunt, had over 1,700 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns.
The defense should be good not great. But if Mahomes plays to his potential, this team could be one of the league leaders in points scored.
Chiefs have a very good chance to make the playoffs.
Denver Broncos (2017 record 5-11)
The Broncos starting the season 3-1 and finished 5-11. Vance Joseph’s rookie season on the sideline was an unmitigated disaster for John Elway. The Broncos gave up 52 sacks in 2017. Case Keenum comes over from the Minnesota Vikings. In 15 games, Keenum threw 22 touchdowns, only 7 interceptions and compiled 3 over 3,500 passing yards. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders will be solid at the wide receiver position but they need 3rd option. I am very high on Oregon Duck’s rookie running back, Royce Freeman. He can be a punishing every down back and if he gets the opportunity, he can rush for over 1,200 yards and be a great Red Zone back.
The Broncos defense is no longer and elite crew that won the Super Bowl just a few years ago but they can still be good. The problem here is Keenum is the 4th best quarterback in the division. That never bodes well for any team trying to improve. Vance Joseph was a terrible hire and he will be fired at the end of the year.
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