We conclude the AFC portion of the 2021 NFL Division Prediction Series today by predicting what will happen in the AFC West this year.
Between seeing young quarterbacks flourish to their potential to seeing the debut of the Las Vegas Raiders, this division is also expected to be a tight race.
Lets see what’s in store for the West coming up.
There’s something in the water up in the Rocky Mountains when it comes to the Denver Broncos, and it does not seem right.
The Broncos have a quarterback situation on their hands. They have traded for Teddy Bridgewater to provide competition for Drew Lock, but it is possible they will be looking for a new QB in the future.
The rest of the team remains okay as the Broncos made moves to provide depth. Such moves include drafting North Carolina running back Javonte Williams and offensive lineman Quinn Meinerz to solidify the offense, and they also selected Alabama’s Patrick Surtain and signed cornerback Kyle Fuller to rejoin with head coach Vic Fangio on defense.
Denver is in a good shape to compete on defense, but offensively, they still have question marks. If they want to contend on the AFC West, the Broncos have to have everyone in order to make sure they make a good run on the rivals.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were in prime contention to repeat as Super Bowl champions. There was one glaring issue: their offensive line couldn’t keep up with Tampa Bay’s defense and basically left their star quarterback Patrick Mahomes II out to dry.
The Chiefs approached this offseason addressing that issue appropriately—and effectively.
Moves they made for their O line were signing centers Austin Blythe and Joe Thuney, bringing back former Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long out of retirement to play for them, trading for Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., and drafting Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey.
Other moves include drafting Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton and resigning wide receivers DeMarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle to have depth for their dynamic offense.
If their offensive linemen moves work, the Chiefs should be alright. We’ll be expecting them back in the Super Bowl soon. Would it be this year again? Time will tell.
Las Vegas Raiders
Life and times are always changing down in Sin City, but it seems like the Las Vegas Raiders are quite the opposite.
Under the second stint of head coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders have remained stagnant based on their performance. Especially with their defense and running game.
Las Vegas addressed their needs as they signed running back Kenyon Drake to back up Josh Jacobs and brought in pass rusher Yannick Ngaukoe and drafted safety Trevon Moehrig to help out their defense.
The Raiders have been rebuilding a bit since Gruden retook the coaching ranks, but hopefully this team can take the next step in the division battle. It’ll be a bit of a climb, but it’s Las Vegas after all, maybe luck will be on their side.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Justin Herbert era for the Los Angeles Chargers is off to a great start—so far.
Their second-year quarterback had a good rookie season last year, and the team made their offseason all about trying to make sure he stays protected and satisfied.
The Chargers signed center Corey Linsley and drafted Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater for protection to Herbert, and they also drafted Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. to help out their defense.
With their offense in tact and their going players stepping up, the Chargers could make some noise this year. The question is, can they do it consistently and match up with teams such as the Chiefs or Broncos? This season could either make or break them.
PROJECTED 2021 AFC WEST STANDINGS
- Kansas City Chiefs 13-4**
- Los Angeles Chargers 10-7*
- Denver Broncos 8-9
- Las Vegas Raiders 5-12
As long as Mahomes stays healthy and their offense is still explosive, the Kansas City Chiefs will repeat as division champions. However, one of their losses could come against their rival in the Chargers as they secure a Wild Card berth in the process.
For the eliminated teams, Denver’s offense will struggle even with a new quarterback in Bridgewater and Las Vegas is going to remain stagnant as they fall apart to finish with a 5-12 record.