AFC West 2021 Predictions
Source: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated
The NFL season is approaching, in fact we are just over a week away from REAL pigskin being tossed around. I will give all eight divisions their own spotlight prior to the NFL 2021 kickoff weekend. Starting with the AFC West, the Chiefs will look to defend their division title once again, as the Chargers, Raiders and Broncos hope to dethrone the AFC juggernauts and shock the NFL world. Crazier things have happened, buuuuuut I doubt it. Let's dive in.
Kyle Fuller CB
Ronald Darby CB
RB Phillip Lindsay,
CB A.J. Bouye
The Broncos would look to improve from a 5-11 record in 2020. This season a new face will be under centre as Teddy Bridgewater beat out Lock as starting QB. Despite having a topsy turvy 2020 campaign with the Carolina Panthers, the Broncos are banking on Bridgewater to provide some consistency to a position that quite simply killed them last year.
Even with Bridgewater under the helm their QB situation is still less than ideal. Instead of opting for a young QB in the draft they go into this season with a ton of question marks. Can TB unleash Jeudy and Sutton’s potential? Is Melvin Gordon still a reliable back? Can Noah Fant pick up where he left off? There will be a lot going on in Mile High to say the least.
Denver's defence is an interesting one. They certainly had some bright spots last season despite being without their leader Von Miller. To on add to that, they picked up Patrick Surtain with the 9th overall pick, which could pay off right away given the air raid they'll have to face within their division alone. Defence was certainly not this teams problem last year, and with Miller being a factor this season they could be even better.
Prediction: (6W - 11L) The Broncos defence will have to carry the load for the team this season. Their offence doesn't pose much of a threat, especially at QB. Though with Mahomes and Herbert in the division, Denvers defence could take some licks this season. I doubt things ended positively for Vic Fangio’s quad this season.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kyle Long OG
Jerrick McKinnon RB
Orlando Brown T
Damien Williams RB
Le"Veon Bell RB
Sammy Watkins WR
The Chiefs are looking to bounce back after getting annihilated against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year's Super Bowl. Luckily for them they still have all the ingredients it takes to continue to steamroll their division and shoot for a third straight title appearance. With Patty Mahomes leading the way, the sky's the limit once again for the boys in red.
The Chiefs offence should still be one of the elites again this season. Last season they were 5th in points per game. Mahomes ranked third in Passing TD’s and nobody converted more first downs in the NFL than the KC Chiefs. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are still cheat codes and their stats back that up. With their offensive line improving tremendously, and CEH coming into his sophomore year, this offence is primed for another massive season.
On defence, the Chiefs had three pro bowlers last season despite not quite being one of the top defensive teams in the league. Frank Clark, Chris Jones and Tyrone Mathieu will once again have to carry the load as they’ll probably see a ton of action with their offence scoring early and often. Bending but not breaking was the motto for this squad last year, and they'll to improve upon their 16 picks from a year ago.
Prediction: (13W - 4L) The Chiefs have been the kings of the AFC West for the past few seasons and that reign will absolutely continue. Kansas City will claim the AFC West division.
Los Angeles Chargers
Bryan Bulaga G
Corey Linsley C
Michael Davis CB
Casey Heyward Jr. CB
Hunter Henry TE
Tyrod Taylor QB
The Chargers won their final 4 games of the season last year, though it wasn’t enough to save Anthony Lynn's job. They brought in former Rams Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to control the ship. Will this move help? I have no clue, but I do know that the future of the franchise is much brighter thanks to Justin Herbert, who had an incredible rookie campaign.
As a whole, the Chargers offence really started to take off once Herbert replaced Tyrod Taylor at QB. Nothing against Taylor, but he's best served as a backup. Finishing just inside the top 20 in scoring and inside the top ten in yards, the Chargers are a high octane team with a lot of talent. Having lost seven of their nine games by one score or less, better play calling and better QB play should get this team on the right track.
The Chargers defence is no joke either. Led by the electric Joey Bosa (who in 63 games has tallied an eye popping 47.5 sacks), this defence has a lot of promise. Kenneth Murray Jr. had an outstanding rookie season, and Derwin James will look to bounce back after missing all of last year with a stress fracture in his right foot. As long as their key players remain healthy, LA could be a dangerous team on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: (10W - 7L) The Chargers 2021 season will be an improvement, and judging by their off-season moves. Los Angeles looks to get back into the postseason. They will grab the second seed in the AFC West and a playoff berth.
Las Vegas Raiders
Yannick Ngakoue DE
Casey Heyward Jr. SS
Willie Sneed WR
Nelson Agohlor WR
Rodney Hudson C
Gabe Jackson G
The Raiders will leave the stench of 2020 behind them and look to start anew in their brand new stadium. Vegas started promisingly enough winning 6 of their first 9 games including a shocking win over the Chiefs in week 5. However, they dropped 6 of their last 8 games to finish with an 8-8 record. With just one playoff appearance since drafting Derek Carr in 2013, Coach Gruden could be looking for a new QB by season's end.
When one looks at Derek Carr's numbers you wouldn’t be all that disappointed. However, his efficiency just hasn’t translated to a lot of success. They added Kenyan Drake to lighten the load on Josh Jacobs, and they’ll look to get Henry Ruggs more involved as well as lean on the always reliable Darren Waller. It'll be a tough ask for the Raiders to be as good as they were on offence in 2020, but they certainly have the personnel to give it a go.
On the other side of the ball, Vegas boosted up their d-line by signing Yannick Ngakoue and bringing in Casey Heyward Jr. Ngakoue should form a good tandem with Maxx Crosby who led the team with 7 sacks last season and Heyward Jr should provide a veteran presence in the secondary. As good as the Raiders were on offence, they were equally bad on defence, so if they can become a middle of the defence it could point to a playoff berth.
Prediction: (7W - 10L) The Raiders have some question marks on both sides of the ball. It also doesn't help that they wasted a good season of Derek Carr. Carr The Raiders just won't be able to cut it this season as the Chargers are surging in the right direction and the Chiefs are still world beaters. They will certainly miss the playoffs.