The AFC West may be the most obvious division on who will win the division as the high powered Kansas City Chiefs who won the 2019 Super Bowl are in the division. It’s already obvious who will win the division; it’s just a matter of who could put up a fight. The Chargers will have a new quarterback after the departure of Phillip Rivers after being a part of the team for over 15 years. The Broncos are being led by a quarterback who is being hyped as he led Denver to a 4-1 record towards the end of the season. The Raiders are now in Las Vegas and are being led by a quarterback who may be playing a year where he needs to perform well as he did in 2016 or he might get the boot out of Vegas. With that being said here is a preview of the AFC West and a prediction on who will win the division.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will be heading into a season as the reigning Super Bowl Champs for the first time in 50 years. They now enter the 2020 season with basically the same exact roster as 20/22 starters are returning for another year at Arrowhead and hope to win back to back championships. Both starters were lost on the defensive side which will result in making the offense even scarier as they added some more star power. With Chiefs first-round pick they decided to add running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire who rushed for 1,414 yards and had 453 reception yards in his final year at LSU. Kansas City was able to bring back defensive tackle Chris Jones as they assigned the franchise tag retaining him for one more year. The Chiefs may be able to give Jones a contract extension as he has been a big piece to the Chiefs defense and they wouldn’t like to see him walk away right when they start their dynasty.
Mahomes will enter the season as one of the best quarterbacks in the league and a frontrunner for MVP. At 24 years old he Mahome already an MVP, Superbowl Champion, and Superbowl MVP. The “Legion of Zoom” led by Tyreek Hill will be just as dominant as they’re simply too fast to contain no matter what you do someone will break loose. Running back Damien Williams will be coming back from a season where he was injured for most of the season and maybe at risk of losing the starting role. Edwards-Helaire is coming into the mix bringing versatility as his a speedy running back but has also returned kickoff’s for three years at LSU Along with recording 453 receiving yards in his final year at LSU proving he can also be a threat in the passing game. With basically the same team Kansas City primarily added depth to their team this off-season with noticeable players like Taco Charlton and Xavier Williams being added on defense. The Chiefs also bring in running back Deandre Washington who was a solid running back for the rival Las Vegas Raiders last year making their RB depth solid.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders will call Las Vegas their new home forever as they will be debuting their new home called at Allegiant Stadium in 2020. Las Vegas had a busy off-season as they made some major upgrades in their weakest section on the team as they brought in an entire new linebacker group. Bringing in Corey Littleton one of the best pass coverage linebackers in the league and Nick Kwiatkoski who is an underrated player who will bring depth. They also became the team with the highest-paid backup quarterbacks in the league as they signed Marcus Mariota to a contract which could either be a motivation for Carr to play better or Jon Gruden just loved him and couldn’t pass on him. In the draft, the Raiders tried to get their own Tyreek Hill as they took the speed demon Henry Ruggs III with their 12th overall pick in the first round and once again were questioned for their selection of cornerback Damon Arnette who many believed was a second-round pick player.
The Raiders finally gave Derek Carr his deep weapon in Ruggs with his incredible speed that gave him a 4.27 the best in the 2020 combine. Ruggs will complement Gruden’s famous “West Coast Offense” which consists of short routes something Ruggs excels at and is exciting to watch after the catch as he had an average of 17.5 yards after the catch. The narrative of Arnette being a reach is can be false as he hasn’t allowed more than one touchdown in a season during his four years at Ohio State and had the lowest passer rating allowed in single coverage amongst all cornerbacks in the draft. The Raiders also brought in two more receivers as they took back to back receivers in the third round as they picked up Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden Jr. both solid receivers along with Bowden being a versatile player as he played QB, WR, and RB while at Kentucky. The Raiders definitely upgraded on both sides of the ball and gave Carr a solid nice receiver group so it should be interesting how he will play in the Raiders’ first year in Vegas.
The Broncos head into 2020 as the favorites to go head to head with the Chiefs as they are led by QB Drew Lock who had an impressive start to his starting career as he went 4-1. Denver also had a busy off-season as they started early and traded for cornerback A.J. Boyue and defensive end Jurrell Casey to help out their defense. Both players are solid veterans but aren’t the player they once were as they have been on a fall when it comes to having a solid season as Boyue’s last solid season was in 2016 but is still young at 28 years old. The Broncos took the route as expected in the draft as they took a wide receiver with their first-round pick who was Jerry Judy, a receiver that experts said was the best overall wideout in the draft. Denver also took another receiver in the second round as they took KJ Hamler, a speedy receiver who had a solid year at Penn State catching 56 passes for 904 receiving yards.
The Broncos strengthened their wide receiver core with Jeudy and Hamler and most importantly gave wideout Courtland Sutton some help as he has been the Broncos only star receiver. Jeudy will take a lot of pressure from Sutton as he has nice hands, great route running skills, has some speed to him, and can get yards after the catch. Along with getting Lock some targets to throw to they also brought in some protection as they picked up Graham Glasgow who has only missed one game in three years and hasn’t allowed a sack in quite some time. Denver was also able to snatch up running back Melvin Gordon who previously played for the divisional rival Chargers. The pressure will be on for Lock as people will expect him to start where he started off where he finished and continue to play like how he did at the end of the season. The Broncos may struggle to start off the season as three of the first six teams are all playoff contenders along with the Patriots who last year had one of the best defenses in the league.
Los Angeles Chargers
Just like the Raiders, the Chargers will also be unveiling their new home with the opening of SoFi Stadium except they get less of a wow factor as they share it with the Rams, the team who will make the real debut for the stadium. For the first time in over 15 years, the Chargers starting quarterback won’t be named Phillip Rivers as they decided to move on from him and began a new era. The Chargers took quarterback Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick, a player who was considered the next best player behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Herbert, for now, is a major upgrade from Rivers as for the past few years he has thrown a good amount of interceptions. Herbert is set up to have a solid rookie season as he has Kennan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler who is one of the best receiving running backs in the league. The only question as of now for the Chargers will be who will be the starting QB for week 1 Herbert or Tyrod Taylor.
Taylor has had some experience where he was the leader of the team such as when he was a starter in Buffalo although it was only for two seasons. It will be a quarterback battle to look out for but many experts believe Herbert to be the starter week 1 for Los Angeles. The Chargers also added a solid player as they added Kenneth Murray trading picks to get the Patriots first-round pick and snatched him up. The Chargers got one of the best true linebackers in the draft and now have a solid defense consisting of Joey Bosa, Desmond King, Melvin Ingram, and Linval Joseph. The Chargers were able to snatch up Chris Harris Jr. who can be a steal pickup if he is able to perform at a solid level but has been on a decline for some time and isn’t getting any younger. The Chargers will have an early challenge as out of the first four teams they play three of them are all playoff teams and all three are possibly Superbowl contenders. A tough challenge for Los Angeles but it will allow people to see if they can compete with other teams who are at a high level.
The Chiefs will obviously win the division; it’s just a race for who will be able to snatch up a Wild Card spot. For the Broncos they are favorites to go up against the Chiefs but their two most noticeable additions in free agency are both players who have been on the decline. Lock may just be over hyped as three of the four teams he beat last year where all below a .500 record and the defense was destroyed with injuries. The Raiders will have a good chance to put up a fight against the Chiefs as they tried to duplicate the Chiefs offense in Las Vegas and have upgraded their linebacker group, something needed very much last season. The Chargers can have a solid group but injuries are something they have to keep an eye out for as that has been the killer of the team in recent years. It will all fall on Herbert and if he can lead the Chargers to a successful season and can do that as he is surrounded with the weapons needed.