Oct. 24, 2018
Tight race in AFC West
The AFC West is an interesting division in the NFL. The Chargers have already been eliminated, but the other three teams are Super Bowl contenders. Denver, Oakland, and Kansas City have proven that they are capable of winning a ring. Here is a breakdown of all three.
Let's start with Denver. Entering Week 14, they are in 3rd place with an 8-4 record. They're offense has been below average throughout the season. They have started Trevor Sieman at quarterback and backup rookie Paxton Lynch for a couple of games. Their passing game is ranked 27th. Their running game has been inconsistent, and they are ranked 27th. CJ Anderson, who was the Broncos leading rusher with 863 yards last year, has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to an injury. He had signed a 4 year $18 million contract in the offseason. What has kept them in the playoff hunt has been their defense, which carried them to the Super Bowl last year. Although they lost a few big pieces in Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan, they have done as well as last year. They rank 1st against passing and 27th against rushing but have only allowed 11 touchdowns to running backs. If their offense finds a way to get by without turnovers and the defense keeps doing what they're doing, I see them making a legitimate run at defending their title.
Next is the Oakland Raiders. I am not going to lie, they have been one of the biggest surprises of the season for me. I expected for them to improve with the addition of Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin, the addition of Crabtree the year before, and the development of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. Jack Del Rio and GM Reggie McKenzie have done a fantastic job building the team to this point considering where they were just a few years ago. Their defense have great rushers in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, and their secondary is holding up. Derek Carr is a candidate for the MVP. They're run game could use some work though; they are ranked 28th in total rushing yards. They are now 10-3 but are in second place behind the Chiefs because they did not win the tiebreaker.
Last is the Kansas City Chiefs. Two of their last three games, they are coming off phenomenal wins against their AFC West rivals Denver and Oakland. Travis Kielce is having a great season, and it helps that he is Alex Smith's favorite target. Their offense is doing well considering that their run game has been dismal without Jamaal Charles. Other surprise players like Tyreek Hill have been clutch. Their defense has done a great job the last few seasons, creating the most turnovers in the NFL. Although they lost key veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson for the season due to a raptured Achilles, I have a lot of faith in the rest of the defense to step up when it matters. They just got Justin Houston, one of the best rushers in the league, back from injury a couple weeks ago. If they can stay healthy, and the defense keeps creating turnovers, I see no reason why they can challenge the Patriots for the AFC title.