The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC West in 2010, but if they hope to repeat as division champs, they’ll have to play from behind.
With the first quarter of the season in the books, the division race is still wide open.
Let’s take a look at the race:
Oakland Raiders 2-2
Kansas City Chiefs 1-3
Denver Broncos 1-3
We’ll review how the rest of the division fared on Sunday after the jump.
The San Diego Chargers defeated the 0-3, now 0-4 Miami Dolphins 26 to 16 yesterday. The win gives the Chargers a one-game lead over second place Oakland and moves them to 3-1 on the season.
The thing about the Chargers, however, is that they have not beat a team with a winning record all season. In fact, all three of their wins have come against win-less teams. They defeated the Vikings in week one, lost to the Patriots in week two, narrowly beat the Chiefs in week three and defeated the Dolphins yesterday. All of San Diego’s wins have been close. They beat the Vikings by seven, the Chiefs by three and the Dolphins by ten.
Right now at least, the Chargers appear beatable and that should give hope to the rest of the division.
In second place, we have the Oakland Raiders at 2-2. The Raiders are obviously a team that is improving and they are led by running back Darren McFadden.
The Raiders have beaten the Broncos and the Jets and have lost games to the Bills and Patriots.
The Raiders remind me a little bit of the 2010 Chiefs. They have a strong running game, questionable QB play and an up-and-down defense.
The Raiders are also beatable right now but will likely be in the race until the end.
Next we have the Chiefs sitting at 1-3. KC had pretty much been left for dead after a horrendous start and injuries to key players. The Chiefs, however, rallied and gave the Chargers all they could handle on the road and took care of business against the Vikings at Arrowhead.
Only two games out of the division, the Chiefs could make some serious headway if they can continue to win over the next few weeks. Next week they travel to 0-3 Indy to take on the Peyton Manning-less Colts. A win there would move the Chiefs to 2-3 heading into their bye week.
After the break, the Chiefs have two key games against the Raiders and Chargers. A win in both of those games would put the Chiefs right back in the division race just in time for them to play the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos in weeks nine and 10.
It remains to be seen how good the Chiefs can be without Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles but it is certainly too early to count them out.
Lastly, we have the 1-3 Denver Broncos. Denver started the season off with a loss to the Raiders before taking down the Bengals in week two to get their only win thus far this season. The Broncos have since dropped two straight in contests against the Titans and Packers.
The Broncos appear to be struggling to adjust to life under new head coach John Fox but they can stay in the division race with a win at home against the Chargers next week.
It is a long season and things could get interesting in the AFC West this year. I look for the race to be closer than anyone expects.