The Kansas City Chiefs have dominated the AFC West division in recent years, having an active 7 year division title win streak dating back to 2016. Last year with the departure of Tyreek Hill and the addition of big names like Russel Wilson, JC Jackson, Khalil Mack, and Chandler Jones to the other AFC West roster many predicted the Chiefs would struggle to continue their dominance and snap their division win streak. That of course did not happen as the Chiefs would lose only 3 games all year and go on to win the Superbowl. Is there any reason for us to think differently this year? I look at each teams schedule and analyze below
1st place- Denver Broncos, 12-5, Losses: vs Commanders, @Dolphins, @Chiefs, @Bills, vs Patriots
Look I get it. This team massively underachieved last year particularly on offense when they were just atrocious to watch. This team has talent however especially on the offensive side of the ball so it was puzzling as to why they couldn’t find a way to make it click. The Broncos have made changes to correct this. They fired first time Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett and hired one of the best offensive minds in league history former Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. Payton’s offenses have consistently ranked at the top of the league and have been quarterback and receiver friendly allowing even average players to thrive. The Broncos also did work to fix the offensive line bringing in multiple lineman to bolster the offensive line. The challenges for the Broncos lie in the quarterback. Russell Wilson had the worst year of his career by far last year and turned off many teammates in the process with reports coming out say he was selfish and self centered. Was this just a product of bad system and line last year or is this really who Wilson is at this stage in his career? The Broncos need to hope last year was just anomaly to have any chance of winning the division title.
2nd place- Kansas City Chiefs, 12-5, Losses: @Jaguars, @Jets, @Broncos, vs Dolphins, @Patriots
Sorry Chiefs fans but your division title win streak comes to an end this yr. Now before you throw a tantrum I’m not predicting the Mahomes regression or saying he’s not the best quarterback in the league but his team has not gotten better this offseason. They lost the best receiver in a lack luster receiving core with Juju Smith-Schuster going to the New England Patriots in free agency. They haven’t signed or drafted anyone significant and certainly no one that scares you vertically. There relying on rookie receiver Sky Moore to take a leap and there defensive backfield full of rookies to take a leap. That can be risky when try ton compete for championships year in and year out and although I still think the greatness of Patrick Mahomes and Head Coach Andy Reid will still make them a feared football team, it ultimately wont be enough to win the division title this year.
3rd place*- Los Angeles Chargers, 5-12, Losses: vs Dolphins, vs Cowboys, @Chiefs, @Jets, @Packers, vs Ravens, @Patriots, vs Broncos, @Raiders, vs Bills, @Broncos, vs Chiefs
I know, your thinking the chargers at 5-12 is crazy and it probably is. However this is a team with talented but aging and injury prone wide receivers headlined with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. An underperforming defense with all the talent they have and a mediocre Head Coach. They spent the offseason panning out both offensive and defensive lines and that was really it. Not much you can do with the defense have so many big contracts. Justin Herbert is a good, even great quarterback but he is not in the Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Patrick Mahomes tier to where he can carry a bad roster. With underperforming talent and a tough schedule I do not see 2023 treating the Chargers kindly.
4th place*- Las Vegas Raiders, 5-12, Losses: @Bills, Vs Steelers, @Chargers, @Broncos, @Packers, vs Patriots, vs Giants, vs Jets, @Dolphins, vs Chiefs, @Chiefs, vs Broncos
The Raiders are weird. There not quite in a rebuild but there is no way they are in a position to compete, the Raiders however think differently. They have some pieces with Darren Waller and Davante Adams being top 5 in their respective positions by production, however the good stops there. They got rid of long time starter Derek Carr and replaced him with Jimmy Garoppolo who has is a solid to good quarterback but to carry this roster, in this division? The Raiders are crazy. The offensive line doesn’t wow you and the defensive is average and that’s me being nice about it. The AFC is too good for this to be the roster your trying to contend with.