Let’s set some local biases aside and take an objective look at the AFC West rosters. Going position by position we’ll rank each unit and allocate points accordingly (4 for 1st, 1 for 4th).
It’s a full proof science based plan that will surely tell us who will prevail. Or it might be tosh. There’s only one way to find out……..
Part 1 : Offences
1 : Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes)
2 : Chargers (Justin Herbert)
3 : Broncos (Russell Wilson)
4 : Raiders (Derek Carr)
The fact Derek Carr is 4th in list isn’t so much a slight on him, more an indication of how competitive the AFC West is shaping up to be. Russell Wilson is a major upgrade from Drew Lock in Denver and at his best is a potential top 5 QB but it’s Herbert and Mahomes that head this list. Herbert ticks every single box required of a modern QB to go to the very top of the game but Mahomes body of work has him a step or 2 ahead. League MVP, Superbowl MVP, 5000yds and 50TDs, as someone once said we need to see it to believe it before anyone on this list dethrones him.
1 : Chiefs
2 : Chargers
3 : Broncos
4 : Raiders
The Chiefs come out top again here after some stellar work by Brett Veach in the previous off-season. Assuming Orlando Brown’s contract situation works itself out the only question mark is at RT. The Broncos line is middle of the pack and will benefit from Russell Wilson’s mobility, but the gulf between 2 & 4 can be characterised by 2 recent first round draft picks – Rashawn Slater of the Chargers and Alex Leatherwood to the Raiders.
1 : Broncos (Gordon & Williams)
2 : Raiders (Jacobs)
3 : Chargers (Eckler)
4 : Chiefs (CEH)
Josh Jacobs is arguably the best individual RB in the division but the fact the Broncos have a stronger 1-2 punch in Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams means they take top spot here. Williams didn’t grab too many headlines in his debut season but did enough to indicate he could be a problem for the rest of the divison. Jacobs just heads off Austin Eckler to take second spot for the Raiders leaving the Chiefs in 4th. We’re not getting into a CEH debate here.
1 : Chiefs (Kelce)
2 : Raiders (Waller)
3 : Chargers (Everett)
4 : Broncos (Okwuegbunam)
If you don’t think Travis Kelce is the premier TE in the sport then I don’t know what to tell you. Darren Waller is another top 5 talent at the position who’s production could well be aided by the Raiders’ major off season addition (more to come). It’s slim pickings after these two though, Everett gets the nod by virtue of his experience.
1 : Raiders (Adams, Renfrow)
2 : Chargers (Allen, Williams)
3 : Broncos (Sutton, Patrick, Jeudy)
4: Chiefs (Smith-Schuster, Valdez-Scantling, Hardman, Moore)
While the Chiefs lost one of the elite receivers the Raiders gained one in Davonte Adams – for many THE number one receiver in the league. Their number 2, Hunter Renfrow, is a classy route runner who might be one of the most underrated players in the league. In Keenan Allen and Mike Williams the Chargers have 2 receivers who would lay claim to be #1 in a decent number of other teams. Durability is an issue but when healthy they’re a problem. Sutton and Patrick are another established one – two combo, both big strong and direct. Jerry Jeudy promises much but hasn’t delivered as yet (and faces some off-field issues that may cost him game time). As for the Chiefs their WR corps are a completely unknown quantity. 3 of the names above are new to the team and the other, Mecole Hardman, remains something of a mystery to Chiefs fans. Tyreek Hill is irreplaceable but if the Chiefs recognise this and adapt accordingly they could find themselves with a much more varied offence. JuJu Smith Schuster should add a genuine presence in the slot the Chiefs have cried out for in recent seasons. If it all clicks they could easily outplay this ranking, however if they’ve got the recruitment wrong it could be a big step down from the famed Legion of Zoom days.
1 : Chiefs 14pts
2 : Chargers 13pts
3 : Raiders 12pts
4 : Broncos 11pts
So what does this tell us? For one thing – it’s going to be a dogfight in the AFC West this year. On paper the Chiefs retain the edge but the gap from first to last is small (and arguably getting smaller). The Chargers don’t top any single positional group but by being above average across the board they’re a close second overall. If the Raiders can overcome their OL deficiencies and give Derek Carr some protection their offence has the potential to be a top 5 unit and just by virtue of being their Russell Wilson will lift the Broncos’ offence to a level not seen for many a year. Strap in folks, it’s going to be a hell of a ride.