The Wobby Series: AFC West Preview

Adam New's 2022 NFL Season Predictions 
Aug 27, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

The two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs look to win their division for the sixth time in a row and I’m hard-pressed to build a compelling case for anyone to stop them in 2021. In fact, I believe the margin between the LA Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders is thinner than is the margin between the Chiefs and Chargers. 

Wobby’s Projected Standings

Kansas City Chiefs 
Los Angeles Chargers 
Oakland Raiders 
Denver Broncos  

This is the Chiefs division to lose and I don’t think they’ll stumble. No team was more aggressive in fixing a positional need this past offseason than the Chiefs were in addressing their offensive line. They traded a 1st, 3rd, and a 4th in the 2021 draft plus a 5th in next year’s draft for LT Orlando Brown. They also signed OG Joe Thuney. Boom…problem solved. 

The three-team race after Kansas City is going to be tightly contested. This opinion will be a minority one, but I lean toward the Raiders.

A mostly untold story from the 2020 season is how close the Raiders were to relevance. After nine games, they were 6-3. Their 10th game was at home against the Chiefs and the Raiders actually led 31-28 deep in the 4th quarter. A Patrick Mahomes game-winning drive that went 75 yards in 12 plays ultimately daggered the Raiders that day, but can you imagine how different the season could have been for Vegas had they held on to beat Kansas City in that game to move to 7-3? I’m an admitted Jon Gruden apologist, but I love Vegas’ offensive scheme, team speed, and edginess on defense. 

The Chargers have found their franchise quarterback. Justin Herbert was thrust into action unexpectedly early last season but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Herbert’s upstart rookie campaign has led to optimism around the franchise, and now they also have an influx of new, positive energy with the arrival of a new head coach. Ultimately, though, the Chargers are just a lower-octane version of the Chiefs. These two teams can be similarly categorized as rosters with a franchise quarterback and with talented skill players around that quarterback as well as a defense with enough opportunistic playmakers to take advantage of playing with a lead generated by that explosive offense. It’s just the Chiefs are superior at most positions. 

A trendy AFC West opinion is to lean into the Denver Broncos. I can see why given some of the positive changes they’ve made this past offseason, including in the front office. They were crippled by injuries to key players last season, namely, pass rusher Von Miller as well as some playmakers on offense. Those players are all back plus the organization did a good job of adding new talent, such as 1st-round pick Patrick Surtain II at CB.

Ultimately, though, it’s hard to go through a season looking to keep every game low scoring and win most of the close ones. At some point(s) in the season, you’ll be in shootouts. From that standpoint, the Broncos may still be a season away.