Who is afraid of the big bad wolf? In the AFC West, that wolf is the Kansas City Chiefs. The division consists of the reigning NFL Champion Kansas City squad, the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, and the Las Vegas Raiders. Have any of the three competitors gathered enough firepower to take the throne?
Denver Broncos: 2019 Record 7-9 — 2020 Predicted Record 2-15
Denver does not look to have a very good year this season. After finishing 28th in the NFL for overall offense, including 28th in passing, they needed to make some solid moves in the passing game. The did draft star Alabama Receiver Jerry Jeudy but the biggest offensive move they made was picking up Melvin Gordon. Gordon can catch out of the backfield and that may help move the chains but it is a dangerous game to count on an unproven quarterback and rookie receiver to bolster the offense. Defensively this team did well to stay in the top 12 of the NFL, particularly strong against the pass but dropping to the lower half of the NFL against the run. While it is true that the NFL is a passing league, if you struggle to stop the run, you will struggle to get off of the field. For these reasons and the more difficult schedule this season, expect the Broncos to have a big drop off.
Kansas City Chiefs: 2019 Record 12-4 — 2020 Predicted Record 13-3
What did the Kansas City Chiefs do to cement their spot as king of the NFL? Only went out and sign their youthful Superbowl MVP quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, to the largest deal in the history of the league. They were also able to maintain the nucleus of one of the best offenses in the NFL, even adding Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the draft. Edwards- Helaire proved in college that he can catch the ball out of the backfield and may be a better fit than current starter Damien Williams. The defense was in the lower half of the league but it was no secret that the Chiefs strategy was to outscore their opponents. Even still, the pass defense was better than average, coming in at #8. The run defense was not #8, in fact it was almost at the bottom of the league. If the Chiefs hope to take home the Lombardi trophy again this season, they will need to shore up some gaping holes in the run defense.
Los Angeles Chargers: 2019 Record 5-11 — 2020 Predicted Record 10-6
The Los Angeles Chargers are the team hoping to make a splash this season. Big news out of LA was that the longtime QB Philip Rivers left town to find glory elsewhere. With a glaring hole at quarterback, the Chargers will be depending on Tyrod Taylor to be a game manager until first-round draft pick Justin Herbert can adjust to the speed of the NFL. The reason for the predicted turn-around has much less to do with the offense, though. The ‘Bolts have a menacing defense, led by Joey Bosa that was top-5 vs the pass. In fact, this team boasts talent at every level of the defense and are absolutely loaded on the D-line. Expect big things from this group as they make a return to the playoffs this season.
Las Vegas Raiders: 2019 Record 7-9 — 2020 Predicted Record 7-9
New location, same result. The Raiders will play their first season in Sin City this year. They are not a bad team and could shock a squad or two this coming season as they return most of a team that boasted the #11 Offense and # 19 Defense in the NFL. They are a balanced team with a solid quarterback in Derek Carr and an even better running back in Josh Jacobs. The defense is solid and should improve this year as the chemistry builds. Pile the talent in with a great offensive mind in Jon Gruden and the Raiders should be competitive. The one downfall of this team is that they are in the AFC West and will struggle against KC and the Chargers. They will once again finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs, even though the team will be better than last year.