CANTON,Ohio- Welcome to the wild wild AFC West. Yes, that’s exactly what I said about this division after I looked over the rosters and schedules for this year. Other than one team, this division could go either way, so here we go.
The San Diego Chargers-
OFFENSE- They’ve still got Philip Rivers at QB and his targets on the outside are Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, acquired in free agency and Antonio Gates. In the backfield, Danny Woodhead is very dangerous when he gets the ball. But if Melvin Gordon can be the RB that he was back in college at Wisconsin, he can really lift up the Chargers from last place.
DEFENSE- Brandon Mebane, who they picked up from Seattle, Also Brandon Flowers at CB. Then of course, no one knows what’s going to eventually happen with unsigned first round pick (third overall) defensive end Joey Bosa.
FINAL SUMMARY- San Diego has the 13th toughest schedule in the NFL. Now, to add to that, I still don’t think they have the talent to compete. Keep in mind, they play Denver, Oakland and Kansas City twice. I definitely see them having a top 5 pick in the 2017 draft.
The Kansas City Chiefs-
OFFENSE- The Chiefs have the weapons both in the backfield and outside, but my main concerned as it has been for awhile now with Kansas City, is their quarterback situation. I’m not sold on Alex Smith being the answer at QB. I like Jeremy Maclin at WR and Jamaal Charles in the back field. Travis Kelce is good at tight end as well.
DEFENSE- I actually love the Chiefs defense. Dontari Poe, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, and Eric Berry. They have some other play makers on defense, but those are the main game changers.
FINAL SUMMARY- Kansas City has the 16th ranked schedule with some teams on their schedule that I have picked last in their division with the Chargers and Saints. They have a really good defense. But again, can Alex Smith do what I think he is not capable of doing? Lead a team to the Super Bowl. I think not.
The Denver Broncos-
OFFENSE- This one is easy. And I don’t mean putting them in second place. They’ve got the weapons at WR, RB and even tight end. But if you don’t have the QB, good luck! Mark Sanchez is the projected starter, I’m not high on him. Paxton Lynch was drafted. He’s a project that could become a possible starter. He’s a big man with a big arm. Sanchez has the experience. If the Broncos can get solid play at that position, they could actually win the division. But that’s a big if.
DEFENSE- One word sums up the Denver defense……LOADED! They have player makers at just about every position. Von Miller won the MVP award in Super Bowl 50. To my knowledge, Miller is part of a small group of linebackers to win the MVP in the Super bowl ( Ray Lewis- Baltimore Ravens, Chuck Howley- Dallas Cowboys, Malcolm Smith- Seattle Seahawks).
FINAL SUMMARY- If Denver gets the QB situation cleaned up, they will win the AFC West. But I don’t trust Sanchez and I don’t know when or if Lynch will get a chance.
AFC WEST WINNER-
The Oakland Raiders-
OFFENSE- Derek Carr is a quarterback I’m very high on. He’s shown me accuracy, ability to read defenses and a nice arm. Carr has some quality weapons to help him out with Amari Cooper at WR and Latavius Murray at running back. They have other good players but those are the two that stick out.
DEFENSE- Khalil Mack is the real deal. Reggie Nelson at free safety. I have a good feeling that Oakland has some future play makers on the defensive side of the ball that are going to make a name for themselves this year.
FINAL SUMMARY- The BIG difference between the Raiders and the Broncos and Chiefs is the QB situation. I think Rivers is good but he doesn’t have the talent on defense to help his cause out in San Diego.
FINAL AFC WEST SUMMARY- Not much else needs to be said. If Oakland can hold off Denver and Kansas City, which I think they will, the Raiders will win the AFC West for the first time since 2002. So yes, the Raiders will bring down the Broncos.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick broulis