In Part 1 of this series (https://arrowheadsabroad.com/2022/06/11/ranking-the-afc-west-rosters/) we looked at the offences and decided the Chiefs still had the edge over their AFC West rivals. Now we’ll flip the field.
Part 2 : Defences
1 : Chargers (Bosa & Mack)
2 : Raiders (Crosby & Jones)
3 : Broncos (Chubb & Gregory)
4 : Chiefs (Jones & Karlaftis)
Additions & losses on the offensive side of the ball have made most of the offseason headlines in the division but that shouldn’t overlook the work done on the defensive side of the ball either. The Chargers added Khalil Mack while the Raiders signed Chandler Jones, neither are spring chickens but both will expect to give opposing QBs plenty to think about. The rich got richer in this area as the Chargers have a bona fide DPOY candidate in Joey Bosa and the Raiders boast perhaps the defensive breakout star of 2021, Maxx Crosby. Bosa & Mack pip Crosby & Jones but it’s a case of pick your poison for the rest of the division. The Broncos rank 3rd and lost Vonn Miller last year but their linebacking duo of Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory are not to be sniffed at. The Chiefs are a potentially distant 4th, wide regarded as the weakest positional group of the team much rests on the, admittedly vast, shoulders of Chris Jones and rookie George Karlaftis.
1 : Chargers (Jackson, Samuel Jr, Callaghan)
2 : Broncos (Surtain, Derby, Williams)
3 : Chiefs (Sneed, Fenton, McDuffie)
4 : Raiders (Ya-Sin, Mullens, Hobbs)
JC Jackson was one of the prized CB names going into free agency, he’s a very good (if rather costly) addition for the Chargers. In Denver Patrick Surtain has only played 1 season but looks every inch the first round pick they expected him to be when they drafted him on the night many were expecting Aaron Rodgers to be a Bronco – what a wild time that was! For the Chiefs L’Jarius Sneed and Rashad Fenton have flashed in parts but lack consistency, they traded up for Trent McDuffie in the first round this year and for many still got a bargain at pick 21, he’s expected to be an impact day 1 starter. If it clicks this is another area the Chiefs should look to outplay their ranking. CB isn’t an area of great strength for the Raiders who rely on their pass rush to win early and cause problems.
1 : Chargers (James, Adderly)
2 : Broncos (Simmons, Jackson)
3 : Chiefs (Reid, Thornhill)
4 : Raiders (Abram, Moehrig)
It’s another gold for the Chargers here with All-Pro Derwin James the stand-out name in the division (potentially the league health permitting). He’s struggled to stay on the field in the past but durability wasn’t an issue last year and time out didn’t appear to wear heavy on his shoulders. Justin Simmons is another stand out name at the safety position for Denver. When healthy both these teams have high ceilings and low floors at the safety position. The Chiefs lost both a star player and the heartbeat of the defence in Tyrann Mathieu, replacing him with Justin Reid. Chiefs’ fans shouldn’t expect him to drop straight into the Honey Badger hole but his athleticism and willingness to tackle (hard) should open up opportunities for DC Steve Spagnuolo to get creative. Similar to their CB room the Raiders Safety corps has youth and potential on its side rather than star power, it’s a solid if unspectacular group.
1 : Chargers 12pts
2 : Broncos 8pts
3= : Raiders 5pts
3= : Chiefs 5pts
Unlike on Offence there is a clear winner here. The Chargers have a star studded Defence with names like Bosa and Mack set to send chills through the rest of the division. The Raiders don’t have much to back up their high octane pass rush but it is a pass rush that can wreak havoc, especially under a new DC. On paper the Chiefs don’t stack up to their rivals and defensive failings could be their un-doing this year, it’s worth noting the caveat that GM Brett Veach has spent alot of free agency and draft capital on the Defence this off season so these rankings owe much to the fact the units are largely untested. If the recruitment is on point the DBs could easily become a long term strength. Eyes on the pass rush though, if any one area of the team will hold them back in 2022 it’s likely to be that.