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The 2018 NFL Season is nearly here, and today we will take a look at AFC West. The Chiefs won the division last year with a 10-6 record and will be in the mix to win it again, but the Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos are all improved and will be gunning for them. This is the toughest division in the AFC so let’s take a peek at how the AFC West stacks up this year. Below I have the win total predictions for each team.
Broncos Should Get better Quarterback Play
The Denver Broncos were just 5-11 last year, the first time since 2010 finished with a losing record. Their big issue was an offense that averaged only 18.1 ppg, which was 27th in the league. They were just 20th in the league in passing but should have a far better passing game with Case Keenum as their signal caller. He nearly took the Vikings to the Super Bowl last year, but we also note that he had far more weapons than he will have here in Denver. They did take WR Courtland Sutton with their 2nd pick, but still, this is not a good receiving corps. Denver was 12th in rushing last year and could be better this year, especially with Royce Freeman being taken with their 3rd pick. Keenum is an upgrade over Siemian, and this offense should be better than last year, but should still finish in the lower half of the league in scoring.
The defense was one of the best in the league last year as it ranked 3rd in the league in yards allowed. The problem was turnovers, and overall bad play from the offense set their opponents up with some short fields. The Broncos ended up allowing 23.9 ppg, which was 22nd in the league. The offense should be able to take better care of the ball with Keenum at the helm, and that means that the Broncos won’t allow as many points. This defense was very tough, to begin with, and they made it even better by drafting Bradley Chubb with their first pick in the draft. He was a tremendous playmaker at NC State and should do the same in the NFL.
Chiefs Look To Repeat As Division Champs
The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC West last year with a 10-6 record, but then went on to lose to lost to Tennessee at home in the wildcard round of the playoffs. Can they make it back to the postseason? You’re gonna have to wait for that answer. The Chiefs were t5th in the league in total offense and 6th in scoring, putting up 25.9 ppg. Do not look for them to be that successful this year. Alex Smith had a great year but was traded to Washington in the offseason. The offense will now be in the hands of 2017 first-round pick, Patrick Mahomes. He has a big arm, but is unproven and could struggle in his first year as the guy. He does have a decent WR corps, and the running game will be solid, but the Chiefs will not top 23 ppg this year.
The Chiefs allowed just 21.2 ppg last year, which was 15th in the league, but they also allowed 365.1 ypg, which was 28th. They need to improve on that side of the ball, especially with what should be a much weaker offense. The Chiefs tried to address their needs by using all six of their draft picks on this side of the ball. The defensive line could be one of the better in the league with Chris Jones leading the way. He was 2nd on the team in sacks with 6.5 and had four forced fumbles, plus seven passes defensed. The Chiefs used their first two picks in the draft on the line, which will make it even stronger. Overall, this defense will improve on last year numbers.
Chargers Look To Build Off Last Year’s Strong Finish
The Los Angeles Chargers seem always to finish strong one year, come into the next with high hopes, and then not live up to expectations. Will that be the case this year? The Bolts started last year 0-4, and their home games were drawing more opposing fans than their own, but they went 9-3 the rest of the way and now have high hopes for 2018. The Chargers had one of the best offenses in the league last year led by the best passing attack. Philip Rivers showed that he still has it and should have another big year as he still has plenty of weapons. Melvin Gordon gives them an excellent ground attack, and their offensive line is very strong. They will be without TE Hunter Henry for the year, and it will leave Rivers without a strong player at that position for the first time many years. This will still be a top five offense once again.
The defense for the Chargers was very solid as they allowed just 17.0 ppg, which was 3rd in the league. The pass defense was 3rd in the league, but the Bolts were also just 31st in the league against the run. They will need to clean that up this year, and they hope that taking linebacker Uchenna Nwosu with their 2nd pick will help. They have a hole in the secondary after losing cornerback Jason Verrett for the season in camp. Still, he played in just one game last year, and the pass defense was one of the best in the league, plus they grabbed safety Derwin James with their first pick. Many feel he was a steal at #17.
Can Gruden Lead The Raiders To The Playoffs?
The Raiders went 12-4 back in 2016 and won the AFC West, but last year they dipped to just 6-10, and that was the end of Jack Del Rio. In steps Jon Gruden, who spent four years here from 1998-2001 and took them to the postseason in his final two seasons. The Raiders have been to the postseason just twice since he left. He is an offensive guru and should have his team improve on the 18.8 ppg they put up in 2017. Derek Carr is a solid quarterback, and he has big-time weapons in Amari Cooper, Martavis Bryant, and Jordy Nelson. This has a chance to be a top-five passing unit this year. The ground game also got a boost with the addition of Doug Martin to go along with Marshawn Lynch and an emerging Chris Warren. This offense has many weapons, and it should easily top last year’s numbers.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders were 23rd in the league in yards allowed and 20th in points, giving up 23.3 ppg. They should be a bit better this year, especially since they used five of their picks on this side of the ball. The secondary has a shot at being one of the best in the league, especially with the addition of Marcus Gilchrist (Houston), Daryl Worley (Carolina) and Nick Nelson (4th round pick). They were 26th in the league against the pass but should be much improved this time around. Their biggest concern is the holdout of Khalil Mack, who is their best defender.
+175 1) The Bolts are strong on both sides of the ball, but can they finally put it all together and live up to expectations. It won’t be easy as this is the toughest division in the AFC.
+270 2) Overall, this defense should crack the Top 10 this year, while the offense could be one of the best. The Raiders will be in the mix for a division title and a playoff spot.
+325 3) The Chiefs have an improved defense, but their offense will be weaker. Still, Andy Reid is an excellent coach and will have them in the mix for a postseason berth.
+325 4) If the Broncos get much more from their offense, then they have a shot in this very tough division.