The AFC West has been tightly contested throughout this season. With the Kansas City Chiefs coming off their bye week, now is a perfect time to take a look around the division. Today, we will take a look at how each team could finish their 2019 season. Additionally, let’s discuss how each of these four teams’ outlook is forecasting for both the short term and long term.
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Kansas City Chiefs 7-4
Oakland Raiders 6-5
Los Angeles Chargers 4-7
Denver Broncos 3-8
For the Chiefs, they were described as Super Bowl contenders entering the season. They could still be proclaimed as such. However, taking care of the division comes first. Due to four losses already, and a monumental game at the New England Patriots coming up, nothing is clinched yet. The Chiefs currently hold a one game lead in the division. They have gone through a bumpy road so far this season. But, a fourth straight division crown and possible chaos in the AFC down the stretch, could set Kansas City up well.
Patrick Mahomes and the high flying offense was always the reason why this team was a contender. The offense needed the bye week to regroup and figure things out. Is it possible Andy Reid needs to give the keys to Mahomes and allow the offense more freedom? If so, we could see this unit hit their stride at the right time with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and others.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs were aggressive this offseason in trying to change the defense. It has taken a while for this unit to gel and find consistency. Despite that, the defense has improved marginally compared to last year’s defense. Furthermore, the Chiefs now have an attitude they are hoping to use throughout this December stretch run.
Take A Look Ahead
We’ll see where the Chiefs finish in the next couple of months. If there is no Super Bowl championship, all is not lost. They have a strong, young core built perfectly for what the Chiefs do best. On the other hand, expectations won’t decrease any less. Certain players like the Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Watkins may be on the way out, if that’s what helps the team the most money wise. Mahomes and possibly Chris Jones will be due for large contract extensions as well. As long as the Reid/Mahomes combination is at the forefront, the future will be bright in Kansas City.
The Oakland Raiders have surprised a good amount of people this season. A monster division road game awaits, as the Raiders travel to Arrowhead this week for a date with the Chiefs. While they have the respect of Kansas City, Oakland blew a huge opportunity this past week against the New York Jets. A 34-3 drubbing of a loss in Gotham puts the Raiders in a tougher position heading to Kansas City. After an impressive stretch from Derek Carr and the offense, this unit fell flat against the Jets. Drops, blocking struggles and missed opportunities left a lot to be desired.
It is evident though, that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock are building a more positive foundation for the Raiders. New additions have brought new life to position groups that were stagnant for so long. Also, the mentality has changed on the field and in the locker room. But the biggest question of all (at least for me), is if the Raiders will want to stick with Carr going forward or not. With the move to Vegas imminent, it is not unreasonable for Gruden/Mayock to be asking this question themselves. It is likely Carr remains as their guy. However, anything can still happen throughout the rest of this season.
Even if the Raiders are unable to win the AFC West, they still have a good chance grab a Wild Card spot. The Wild Card race is wide open in the AFC, and the Raiders remaining opponents are filled with more underachieving teams than overachieving.
Take A Look Ahead
As long as Mayock is general manager, the Raiders are always going to be one of the more aggressive and smarter teams in the NFL Draft. They have two picks in the first round in 2020 and this upcoming draft class is one of the most star studded in recent memory. In addition, the move to Vegas will likely help attract impactful free agents. If this team’s foundation continues to turn for the better, then the Raiders will be just fine.
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The Los Angeles Chargers seem to always be a sexy pick in the AFC. Rightfully so, the roster they have built looks deep on paper. Unfortunately for them, injuries run rampant every year it seems. Other impact players have been overshadowed by maddening, irregular team results.
Despite an impressively constructed roster, the most important position of all needs to be evaluated. Quarterback Philip Rivers has had one of the worst seasons of his career. Having thrown 14 interceptions this year, including four last game against the Chiefs, it’s more evident now than ever that Rivers’ arm looks shot. The arm may not be able to fixed at this point, and the decision making has been even more questionable. It begs the question if the Chargers will bring him back next season. I just don’t see how this team can go on with him at quarterback much longer. After all, Rivers is a free agent after the season. The draft will provide a plethora of possible options for a future successor, if they don’t go down the free agent or trade trail.
With a record of 4-7, it seems highly unlikely in all likelihood that LA will make the playoffs. It will be interesting to see just how many more wins the Chargers can muster in 2019. Contenders like the Raiders, Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings all remain on the schedule.
Take A Look Ahead
Besides a possible QB change, one would have to wonder just how many changes the Chargers could make depending on how they finish. Nonetheless, this will be an ultra-important offseason for the Chargers in building a winner. To boot, the move into the brand new stadium in Los Angeles has raised rumors that the LA market has little interest in this team. It will be up to the coaches and players to turn that around in the immediate future.
This One’s On John
The Denver Broncos have some exciting young players. For example, Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton have evolved into dangerous weapons for the Broncos offense. Defensively, veterans like Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr are two of the most respected players around the league. Once again, this team is lacking at the quarterback position.
John Elway has struggled to find a true franchise signal caller during his entire team building this team. The lone bright spot? Signing Peyton Manning after the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback had neck surgery. Manning did bring a Super Bowl championship to the Rocky Mountains. But since then, it has been a hapless wonder as to what the answer is for their quarterback position.
Earlier this offseason, they acquired veteran Joe Flacco. Making that move was questionable to begin with. Flacco never looked comfortable this season and has been injured for weeks. His tenure in Denver may even be over. Since then, Denver has turned to former undrafted quarterback Brandon Allen. Meanwhile, rookie draft pick Drew Lock has yet to play an official snap in the NFL.
Take A Look Ahead
The Broncos have a lot of holes to fill on their roster moving forward. Sitting at 3-8 currently, it is very likely they will get a top ten pick in 2020, maybe even top five. Besides finding a true answer at quarterback, offensive line is still a big issue. Former first round pick Garett Bolles is known more for committing penalties than anything else. It would be wise for the Broncos to move on from him. Harris Jr is an impending free agent, and seems likely to leave elsewhere. There are definitely more questions than answers for the Broncos future moving forward.
Be on the lookout for more Chiefs content throughout this week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.