Kansas City Chiefs
As good as the 14-2 Chiefs were last year, the last we saw of them was in Super Bowl LV against the TB Buccaneers, who crushed them by the lopsided score of 31-9, the worst offensive performance by QB Patrick Mahomes since he has been in the NFL. The problem was the lack of offensive line, and this year, Mahomes has a renewed OL in front of him with five new starters. Orlando Brown being the LT should be an upgrade to Eric Fischer, who battled injuries last season.
Aiming for a sixth straight division title, plus a third straight Super Bowl appearance. KC Chiefs enters the season as a huge favorite to win the AFC West. The lowest of any team. One of the most feared “Big Three” in the NFL, QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce, return for the Chiefs. Having signed Joe Thuney as well as the LG Mahomes, blindside is now among the best in the NFL. Expect another great offensive season from Mahomes as the defense lack a little when the salary cap lowered this year because of Covid. Having signed a record deal with Mahomes, will lead to holes in other areas but having your QB signed for years to come was a smart plan. Having structured the contract to fit the salary cap in the best way possible, a ring should be expected in the years to come.
Los Angeles Chargers
It was quite a surprise to watch rookie quarterback Justin Herbert adjust so quickly to the NFL last season. The kid completed almost 67 percent of his passes for 31 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions on the year, fantastic numbers for a veteran, let alone a freshman player. Amongst his accomplishments, Herbert set rookie records for the most TD passes (31) and most completions (396). He also had most games with at least 300 pass yards (8) and the most games with at least three TD passes (6). After he missed six games due to a hamstring injury, the Chargers hope RB Austin Ekeler will play a full season. Ekeler helps loosen up the opposing defense as he is a threat in the running game and as a pass-catcher. Is he able to play the full 17 games? He should be a player with similar stats to Aaron Jones. The Chargers blew leads of 11 points or more four times last season. This is, of course, not to be expected again. So a better win this season is expected if Herbert keeps his form from last season. Having a bad OL is not what the GM of the Chargers want when you have your QB for the future. To help his conditions behind center, they signed Corey Linsley from Packers, who rated as the top center in the league. RT Matt Feiler was added to help his right side, and who signed an offensive weapon in Jared Cook from New Orleans as Hunter Henry left for New England. The chargers drafted OT Rashawn Slater, so a new and improved O-line should be expected. Expect the Chargers to improve to a record of 0.500+.
Las Vegas Raiders
As great as the Raiders played last season on offense – they were top-10 in both points and yards – they lacked an effective defense, their squad allowing almost 30 points per game, which was the third-most in the league. However, with QB Derek Carr, TE Darren Waller, RB Josh Jacobs, and new WR John Brown, the offense should be solid again. Last season, the Raiders went 8-8, which earned them the 17th pick overall, and LA Raiders selected OT Alex Leatherwood with the 17th pick.
Nomads no more, the Raiders have settled into their new home at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Playing with fans in the stands, it will be interesting to hear how loud the stadium gets when the Raiders host Baltimore in the Week 1 Monday Night Football game for the first time. Las Vegas enters that contest riding a four-game losing streak at home. All four losses were during the Raiders’ 2–5 season-ending losing streak. So, a fresh start with fans in the stadium could start a winning streak.
Finishing 10th overall, with 27.1 points per game, the Las Vegas offense was decent last season. Defense continues to be a question mark, but having drafted S Trevon Moehring, DE Malcolm Koonce, the Raiders defense should see an improvement this year. Who added John Brown to their wide receiver corps, and Yannick Ngakoue should be a big improvement to the raiders pass rush. But allowing almost 30 points per game doesn’t change during the off-season. Raiders should improve from last year, but against the KC Chiefs, the chance of winning the AFC East should be too much to ask for.
There are several problems with the Denver Broncos right now, with a big one being the question of who will be starting under center, though second-year player Drew Lock has been trying, so far with an 8-10 record as the starting QB in Denver.
Lock’s main problem was with accuracy – he tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 – so his development must continue under head coach Vic Fangio and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Following their Super Bowl 50 championship against Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos have posted below 0,500 records 4 out of the 5 seasons since their win. Last year, the Broncos’ 5–11 finish puts their record at 32–48 since the 2016 season. Having secured CB Patrick Surtain II, he seems like a fantastic draft pick with the 9th pick overall. Denver Broncos should expect to have an instant starter in Patrick Surtain II, so a good draft all around for the Denver Broncos, who also selected C Quinn Meinerz.
Why Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West this season
QB Patrick Mahomes has been healthy so far in his NFL career if you look past a freak knee injury that shouldn’t happen again and a head injury that can happen to anyone. Having him as your QB feels like a cheat, and with a new O-line, they should win a solid 12-13 games minimum this year. Their division lacks a clear competitor for the title, and the obvious pick should be the Chiefs. Having Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney protect your blind site is enough for Mahomes to throw lasers to WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Take the favorite Kansas City Chiefs to win AFC West.