As the calendar embraces December, many divisions look all but settled. Then, there is the AFC West. Perhaps no other division possesses more uncertainty and weekly imbalance. As a result, no one can accurately say which team will represent this group in the playoffs. Facts do not lie. Neither does overall record. Right now, this division is a fun mess of epic proportions.
Kansas City Chiefs
For the first seven weeks of the season, the Chiefs appeared to run away with the division. Pundits praised Alex Smith as a potential MVP candidate. Finally, the Chiefs would enjoy a long playoff run. Opening night, they steamrolled the Patriots, amassing 537 yards in a 42-27 beat down, which is a remarkable feat. In their last six games, Kansas City tallied four hundred yards of total offense once. Moreover, the offense could not maintain possession of the football, turning it over seven times in the past four games. In contrast, during the previous seven games, only one giveaway. The Chiefs hold a one game lead over the Raiders and Chargers. With three division games remaining, if they cannot secure a postseason spot, expect a few personnel changes.
Los Angeles Chargers
Raise your hand, if you thought the Chargers would contend this season? To the surprise of many, the Bolts strung together five wins in their last seven games. After starting 0-4, the familiar “same ol’ Chargers” taunts rose in popularity. Yet, the team righted the ship and continues to ride a stingy, opportunistic defense. Since Week 5, Los Angeles forced seventeen turnovers. For the first time in recent memory, Philip Rivers can rest easy with a playmaking defense. On offense, the return of Keenan Allen and emergence of Hunter Henry give the Chargers a diversified passing attack.
In the off-season, most people pegged the Raiders as the team to challenge the Patriots for the AFC. As a result, the focus and burden of expectation fell upon Oakland. After not signing a quality middle linebacker until late and retaining Ken Norton for the majority of the season, the Raiders sit at 5-6. Firing the defensive coordinator after the Mexican drubbing, lit a small fire under the team. On offense, the Raiders possess the division’s deepest talent. Sadly, Todd Downing’s inept playcalling hamstrings any shot at success. This team will need to thrive despite their coaches. Khalil Mack is the lone bright star on a dim defense. Newly minted coordinator John Pagano needs to scheme a pass rush. Other people need to contribute.
Despite every effort, Denver can neither draft of develop young quarterbacks. The defense remains the glue that holds this team together. Eventually, the stout unit will begin to show wear and tear. If John Elway can selected a competent passer, Denver jumps back in the mix for 2018. How does a Hall of Fame passer fail at eyeing signal callers? Denver last won a game two months ago. In that time, the defense allowed 400 yards once. On the other hand, the offense gained that much just once. Honestly, the Broncos continue to waste prime Von Miller.
In reality, no one can predict the division winner. The Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers could each win the division o finish under .500. At this point, the best team here is anyone’s guess. The AFC West looks to like a late determining division.