Welcome to Day 2 of Countdown to Kickoff presented to you by nodoby (Accepting sponsorships though). Yesterday, we looked at a preview of the NFC West, today we look at the AFC West. The AFC West was among the best in football last season, with two Playoff teams coming out of it, this year I would be shocked if two or possibly more playoff teams do not come out of the AFC West. Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs won the division, with the Raiders, Broncos, and the Chargers chasing them in that order. This year, I expect some shake up at the top of the division, but not much at the bottom. Below is my preview of all the teams in the AFC West, same thing as yesterday, the team that I think will finish last will be first in the previews and the division champs will be last.
Finishing fourth in the AFC West for the 2017 season will be the Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers finished last in the division last season and fired majority of their front office. Not only are they going into the 2017 season with a new coaching staff, they also have a new home. The 2016 season was their last in San Diego, as they will play this season in Carson, CA, in front of the smallest crowd in the NFL. The Chargers are going to play in a MLS stadium, while their permanent home in Los Angeles is being built. In order to contend this season, the Chargers will have to hurdle many obstacles, and I do not think they have the roster to do it. Philip Rivers is still the lead signal caller for the Chargers, as he is coming to the end of his career. Under new head coach, Anthony Lynn, the Chargers need to retool their roster to contend in the future, they will try to win this year, but they do not have the roster to do so.
Predicted record for the LA Chargers- 3-13
Finishing third in the AFC West for the 2017 season will be the Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs won the division last season, and if not for bad coaching in the playoffs they would have some games in the postseason. They retain the majority of their roster from last season, but there is still some question marks at the quarterback position. They traded up to draft Patrick Mahomes in the first round of this year’s draft, despite still having Alex Smith on the roster, who had a decent 2016 season with them. Many believe that Smith is still the starter for the Chiefs, but they could give the job to Mahomes, if Smith struggles early in the season. The uncertainty at quarterback is not enough to count out the Chiefs this season, and they will be right there in the crux of the wild card race in the AFC. The Chiefs very well could sneak into the playoffs, but I think there are two more teams in their division who are a little bit better than they are.
Predicted record for the Kansas City Chiefs- 10-6
Finishing second in the AFC West for the 2017 season will be the Denver Broncos
It seems like Yesterday, that the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50 in Peyton Manning’s last year. It has now been two seasons since the Broncos reached the promised land, but they still have a roster that is very similar to that of that magical season. The Broncos won the Super Bowl because of their stellar defense, and that defense looks like it can return to that form again this season. The Broncos biggest question mark is their offense and more specifically the quarterback position. The Broncos have a new head coach this season, who will look to train the young QB’s Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemain. The two signal callers were not able to have a good season last year, which was a big reason why the Broncos missed the playoffs last season. If either of the two quarterback can be average, the Broncos should return to the playoffs. Once they are in the postseason, their defense still has the ability to win them another championship.
Predicted record for the Denver Broncos- 11-5
Winning the AFC West this season will be the Oakland Raiders
The Raiders were among the best teams in football late last season, before they lost their quarterback to a season ending injury. The Raiders retain all of their key players from last season and added an impact running back in Marshawn Lynch. With Derek Carr fully healthy, the sky is the limit for the Raiders. Their biggest weakness this season will be dealing with high expectations. Almost everyone is predicting that the Raiders will be a Super Bowl contender this season and that is a lot of pressure to be placed on a young roster. If the Raiders do not fold under the high pressure and exposure then they will run away with the AFC West. The only competition the Raiders will have is with the New England Patriots for the best record in the AFC. It would not surprise me one bit if the Raiders are lifting the Vince Lombardi trophy at the end of this season.
Predicted record for the Oakland Raiders- 14-2
Well there you have it. That was a little preview of how the AFC West is going to play out this season. I expect the Raiders to run away with the decision, but can also see the Broncos and the Chiefs making a run at the Wild Card. For Day 3 of the Countdown to Kickoff still presented to you by nobody (still accepting sponsorships), we will look at a preview of the NFC South.