The Rest of the West

For the past three seasons the Kansas City Chiefs have claimed ownership over the AFC West division. Prior to 2017, the Chiefs had never before won the division in consecutive years yet now they seem to have a stronghold.

With Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes solidified in Kansas City, a new coach in Denver, a rebuilding franchise in Oakland and…the Chargers. A team on the cusp yet never able to quite reach the pinnacle of success (and have also lost to the Chiefs nine-out-of-ten times). Is it possible that one of these three can emerge to knock end the Chiefs reign of west division titles?

Let’s take a look at the rest of the west.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have not boasted a winning record since winning their third SuperBowl back in 2016. Constant head coach turnover and quarterback miscues have really hurt the franchise as they have fielded a competitive defense during these years.

Will Joe Flacco be the answer that John Elway is looking for at QB? Will Vic Fangio be able to keep the defense at or near the top 10? Many question marks remain as the Broncos attempt to get back to their winning ways. They haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2015 which has to change.

Key Losses

LB Shaquil Barrett, LB Brandon Marshall, LB Shane Ray, G Max Garcia

Key Additions

QB Joe Flacco, WR Nick Williams, CB Kareem Jackson, WR Steven Dunbar Jr.

Draft Picks (Overall Draft Grade B+)

  • 1. Noah Fant (TE Iowa)
  • 2. Dalton Risner (OT K-State), Drew Lock (QB Missouri)
  • 3. Dre’mont Jones (DT Ohio State)
  • 5. Justin Hollins (LB Oregon)
  • 6. Juwann Winfree (WR Colorado)

Final Predictions: 8-8 (3rd place AFC West)

Oakland Raiders

Year one of Jon Gruden era 2.0 was nothing short of a disaster. The team shipped off its two best players in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper for draft capital as they are clearly building for Vegas in 2020 and beyond. The Raiders then hired NFL analyst Mike Mayock as GM and signed high-profile free agent Antonio Brown.

Are the Raiders really trying to win now or is this a smoke screen as they bid farewell to the city of Oakland in 2019? For that to happen, quarterback Derek Carr will need to find his 2016 self and quickly. The Raiders did have nine total draft picks this year and are building youth and depth for the future.

Key Losses

WR Seth Roberts, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jared Cook

Key Additions:

WR Antonio Brown, LB Vontaze Burfict, OG Richie Incognito

Draft Picks (Overall Grade B)

  • 1. Clelin Ferrell (DE Clemson), Josh Jacobs (RB Alabama), Johnathan Abram (S Miss. State)
  • 2. Trayvon Mullen (CB Clemson)
  • 4. Maxx Crosby (DE Eastern Michigan), Isaiah Johnson (CB Houston), Foster Moreau (TE LSU)
  • 5. Hunter Renfrow (WR Clemson)
  • 7. Quenton Bell (DE Prairie View A&M

Final Predictions: 5-11 (4th place AFC West)

The good news for the Chargers: they gained a victory over the Chiefs last season and came within an eyelash of winning the division. The bad news: They’ve only beaten the Chiefs once since 2013 and have a propensity to falter in adverse situations. Many pundits are riding the Chargers heavily once again in 2019 and understandably so. Phillip Rivers is showing no signs of slowing down, they have a solid roster top to bottom and avoid the Patriots on the schedule.

Anthony Lynn has shown he can coach and his aggression paid off late in games last year. Rivers has been a turnover machine against the Chiefs in his career and the Chargers will forgo a “home game” against them this year in lieu of a neutral site game in Mexico City. It will likely be a battle until the bitter end but a December 29th road game at Arrowhead could cost them the division should they continue to disappoint in big-game situations.

Key Losses

CB Jason Verrett, DT Darius Philon, S Jahleel Addae

Key Additions

QB Tyrod Taylor, OLB Thomas Davis

Draft Picks (Overall Grade D)

  • 1. Jerry Tillery (DT Notre Dame)
  • 2. Nasir Adderley (S Delaware)
  • 3. Trey Pipkins (OT Sioux Falls)
  • 4. Drue Tranquill (LB Notre Dame)
  • 5. Easton Stick (QB North Dakota State)
  • 6. Emeke Egbule (LB Houston)
  • 7. Cortez Broughton (DT Cincinnati)

Final Predictions: 11-5 (2nd place AFC West *Wildcard Playoffs)

AFC West Predicted Order of Finish

1. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)

2. Los Angeles Chargers (11-5)

3. Denver Broncos (8-8)

4. Oakland Raiders (5-11)

Avatar of Clint Switzer
Full-time sports fan, part-time contributor to society. GASN Sports co-founder, podcast host, filmmaker and writer.

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