The Kansas City Chiefs are already in the driver’s seat for their seventh consecutive AFC West title as the lone undefeated team in the division. Here, we are going to examine the rest of the division to see how they have fared to this point in the year and what their prospects look like going forward.
Another year, another season of seeing the Kansas City Chiefs perched atop the AFC West. It is a truly wonderful sight that Chiefs fans have gotten used to these past six years. As the only undefeated team in the division along with a head-to-head win over their biggest perceived competitors in the Los Angeles Chargers, the Chiefs already appear poised to take home their seventh straight AFC West title. Yes, it is only Week 3, but it appears as if the Chiefs are the cream of the crop. Let’s take a look at those rivals to see how they stack up.
Los Angeles Chargers Remain Little Brother in the AFC West
The Los Angeles Chargers have already cemented themselves as the number one contender for the AFC West crown that has belonged to Kansas City for the past six years. They have the quarterback talent in Justin Herbert, a bevy of weapons for him to throw to, and a pass rush that is on par with some of the best in football, which they used to dispatch the Las Vegas Raiders in Week One. Even with all of these advantages, the Chargers were still unable to close out a Chiefs team that was not playing their “A” game for the first half on Thursday Night Football in Arrowhead.
This has been the main knock on Herbert and his head coach, Brandon Staley. The talent has always been there, but the Chargers have seemed to come up short in big games more times than not (see week 18 against those same Raiders.) The Chargers do have a fairly light schedule between now and their next tilt against the Chiefs on Week 11, so I would not be surprised if that game at SoFi Stadium would be to decide the division. Stud wide receiver Keenan Allen was also absent for their first meeting and newly acquired cornerback JC Jackson was limited so it’s not like the Chargers were playing at 100% either. There is quite a bit of football to be played between now and November 20, but these two teams appear to be on a crash course to determine the fate of the AFC West.
The Denver Broncos look like the worst team in the AFC West
The shine already appears to have worn off on the Broncos’ big new additions in quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Nathaniel Hackett after an embarrassing loss to the Seahawks in Week One on Monday Night Football and a lackluster performance against the Texans in Week Two which led to the Denver faithful booing the offense and counting down the play clock due to an abundance of delay of game penalties in their own stadium. This, apparently, did not help.
The additions of Wilson and Hackett came with promises of a better offense to harness the talent of their wide receiver corps, particularly Cortland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. This has resulted in an average of 16 points per game, good for worst in the division, as well as numerous instances of confusion on play calls and generally not being on the same page with each other. Broncos fans are understandably furious with the offense’s output to this point after mortgaging their future for this tandem and have had no problem letting the team know. The Broncos’ saving grace has been their defense, only giving up 13 points per game, but even that has taken some hits with Justin Simmons going on the Injured Reserve for at least the next four weeks with a quad injury and their talented young cornerback Pat Surtain, Jr. going down with a shoulder injury in last weeks game. The Broncos have a tough road ahead and need to have their newly acquired coach and quarterback figure their issues out quickly before this season is another one down the drain.
With the two top teams in the AFC West playing an elite level, the Broncos will need to make adjustments quickly to have a shot at a division title.
The Las Vegas Raiders Continue To Be The Laughing Stock Of The AFC West
If you think Broncos fans are upset about their new acquisitions, I can’t even imagine how Raiders fans are feeling right now.
Considering the results of the Raiders’ hard-fought comeback bid that ultimately came up short against the Chargers and the lack of fight the Cardinals showed against the Chiefs in Week One, the Raiders had to feel like Week Two would be one to notch in the win column. That felt like the case for the first three-plus quarters. They had a 20-0 lead in the third and were up 23-7 with the ball in the fourth. Head coach Josh McDaniels, however, declined to continue handing the ball off to their running back, Josh Jacobs, who had been somewhat effective to that point in order to burn the clock and decided that he was going to have quarterback Derek Carr keep airing it out. Three incompletions later and the Cardinals had life. Kyler Murray and company would parlay that spark into an epic comeback which led to the biggest blown lead in Raiders history.
There were questions as to whether or not McDaniels can learn from his mistakes during his turbulent tenure in Denver when he arrived in Vegas and those voices are only going to get louder following that egg of a fourth quarter and overtime that was laid. There’s something to say about being aggressive and believing in your players, but there’s also a thing called situational football which did not seem to cross McDaniels mind at any given point during that period. As Chiefs fans, we are experienced in what poor clock management and play calling look like in those situations, and those sequences by the Raiders darn near topped them all. Sitting at 0-2, the Raiders have a long way to go in order to get back into the playoff picture. Since the NFL merger in 1970, only 9.5% of teams have made the playoffs after dropping their first two games. Josh McDaniels and company had better figure it out quickly or else the Raiders are going to be left in the dust.
As it stands, the Los Angeles Chargers are the main competitor for the AFC West crown while the Broncos and Raiders are looking rather pedestrian and already fighting for their playoff lives. This whole off-season for the competition was about bringing in talent to break the six-year run of domination the Chiefs are currently and, right now, those efforts have not borne any fruit. There are still 15 games to play and anything can happen, but each of these teams is going to need more than a few breaks to go their way if they plan on knocking the Chiefs off of their throne as AFC West champions.