CANTON, Ohio- Time to get the AFC going. I start with the West. This might be the toughest division to predict for me personally.
Kansas City Chiefs- (Home Stadium- Arrowhead Stadium)- (2016 record: 12-4)- (My 2017 Prediction: 6-10)
OFFENSE: I’ve never been sold on Alex Smith. Never will be. I think Kansas City is better off handing over the keys to rookie Patrick Mahomes and finding out about him. Alex Smith does have some weapons in Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, De’Anthony Thomas and Travis Kelce outside. I do like the Chiefs running game with Kareem Hunt and Charcandrick West.
DEFENSE: I think KC’s defense will take a step back this year. I still like Allen Bailey, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS FINAL THOUGHTS- I could be way off on this prediction, but I will say that I don’t see the Chiefs winning the West. If KC could find a legit QB and improve the defense just a little, I’d put them higher.
San Diego Chargers- (Home Stadium- StubHub Center)- (2016 record: 5-11)- (My 2017 Prediction: 7-9)
OFFENSE: Philip Rivers is still a good and tough QB. The Chargers will again be able to put points on the board with players like Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, rookie Mike Williams, Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. Yes, they are loaded at the receiver position. If Melvin Gordon can have a good year at RB, have fun defending this team.
DEFENSE: The defense will be good upfront. Joey Bosa, Brandon Mebane, Corey Liuget and Melvin Ingram. But, after that, is where the Chargers have a good drop off in talent. Yes, the secondary. That will hurt them this year.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS FINALS THOUGHTS- San Diego will look to simply out-score their opponents. If the defense steps up from a secondary standpoint, I would actually place them in second place. With Rivers aging, the window for San Diego to get the defense at the same level as the offense is closing. The lack of a good linebacking core and secondary is what keeps me from putting the Chargers in the elite team’s class.
Denver Broncos- (Home Stadium- Sports Authority Field at Mile High)- (2016 record: 9-7)- (My 2017 Prediction: 9-7)
OFFENSE: Who’s the QB? They say Trevor Siemian. I bet Osweiler ends up back under center. From Demaryius Thomas to Emmanuel Sander and Virgil Green as receivers, to CJ Anderson at RB. If the QB play is better, this offense will be better.
DEFENSE: This is the side of the ball that keeps Denver in the talk of winning the West. I’ll just say this, the Broncos are loaded on defense led by Von Miller. Play makers just about everywhere.
DENVER BRONCOS FINAL THOUGHTS- If the Broncos get the quarterback position figured out, they’ll give Oakland a fight for the West if the Raiders stumble a bit.
AFC WEST CHAMPION-
Oakland Raiders- (Home Stadium- Oakland Alameda Coliseum)- (2016 record: 12-4)- (My 2017 Prediction: 12-4)
OFFENSE: Derek Carr is a special quarterback. Oakland is hoping that the addition of RB Marshawn Lynch will help carry the Raiders to the West title, AFC title and then obviously the Super Bowl title. Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, Cordarrelle Patterson are the receivers along with Lee Smith and Jared Cook.
DEFENSE- Khalil Mack is the leader of a good defense. Mario Edwards and Bruce Irvin are impact players in the front seven as well. The secondary should be better this year with Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson and rookie Gareon Conley.
OAKLAND RAIDERS FINAL THOUGHTS- Raider fans are praying that Derek Carr stays healthy and that Marshawn Lynch can still produce at RB. If those two things happen and the defense just improves a little, the Raiders will win the West outright and dare I say end up in the AFC title game or better yet end up playing in Minnesota playing in Super Bowl 52.
AFC WEST REVIEW- While I do feel that the Raiders win this division, all of the predictions before that could go either way. The Chiefs could finish second. The same could be said for San Diego or Denver.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick broulis