Phillip Sosnik '23
An inside look at the strongest division in NFL history from an impartial fan.
This past NFL offseason did not disappoint as it was one of the most exciting in recent memory. Tom Brady was retired for less time than an ensemble period before he unretired, several veteran quarterbacks switched teams, and the AFC West experienced an arms race for Pro-Bowl Caliber talents unprecedented in scope. Taking note of these offseason additions, the betting markets have adjusted their odds accordingly. Of the top five AFC teams most likely to go to the Super Bowl, three are AFC West teams, and the fourth team, the Las Vegas Raiders, nearly beat the reigning AFC champions Cincinnati Bengals last year in the playoffs. To get a better understanding of the outlooks for each four of these AFC West teams, I’ll now go through the strengths and challenges that will make or break these star studded squads and rank them in order of the likelihood of them winning the division.
#4. Denver Broncos
Perhaps more than any other team in the division, the Denver Broncos have undergone the most changes in the last year. The team was sold, they fired their head coach, and they traded their entire future away for Russell Wilson. In their first matchup of the season, a primetime Monday Football matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos were out played, out coached, and out hustled by a team with a fraction of their talent. The massive amount of turnover they experienced resulted in a lack of team chemistry. Though that was only one game, the team did not look unified nor well acquaintanced with each other. In a division as competitive as the AFC West, Broncos Country won’t be able to ride its way into a playoff spot if they continue to play the way they have.
Biggest Strength: Defense
Biggest Weakness: Lack of Team Chemistry
#3. Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders had a brutal 2021 season. Two of their rising stars in their organization were released due to major legal troubles they faced. Jon Gruden’s racist, sexist, and homophobic emails were leaked which resulted in the coach’s firing. Despite the drama surrounding the organization, they made a Wildcard matchup and played well in their loss. In the offseason, they switched GMs and acquired DE Chandler Jones and WR Davante Adams. Though these aforementioned players are some of the best talents in the entire league, the Raiders lag behind their divisional rivals in one major aspect: quarterback play. It doesn’t matter how unified or well rounded your team is if your quarterback is mid and the pass protection around him is mediocre at best.
Biggest Strength: Team Chemistry
Biggest Weakness: Quarterback play and Offensive Line
#2. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs need no introduction. One of the strongest teams in the NFL for a while now, they are poised to make another deep playoff run. However, they too experienced turnover as Tyrann Mathieu and Tyreek Hill both left the team. Despite this, they’ve looked strong as of yet, and recent history leads me to expect more of the same terrific results they've churned out over the past couple of years.
Biggest Strength: Consistent offensive production and being the referees favorite team in the NFL
Biggest Weakness: Poor Defense
#1. Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert. Austin Ekeler. Keenan Allen. Mike Williams. Joey Bosa. Derwin James. And now Khalil Mack and JC Jackson, the Chargers are one of the most hyped up teams in the league for good reason. On top of having the best fans in the NFL, the Chargers boast arguably the best roster on paper. However, a few questions linger. Will the Chargers succumb to injuries as they often do? Will their coach continue to be an idiot and cost them games? Are they simply too good of a team? As an optimist in life, I chose to believe the Chargers will have a breakout year and will even win it all come February.
Biggest Strength: Is everything but coaching an option?
Biggest Weakness: Coaching, special teams play, and being hated by Roger Goodell.