Kansas City Chiefs: AFC West offseason prediction


The offseason has been full of surprises so far, and with the 2015 NFL Draft freshly completed I think now would be a good time for an AFC West offseason prediction. Let’s run down each of the four teams and see which ones are better, which are worse, and which haven’t changed much.

Dec 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to run a play against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders did some surprisingly good things this offseason and are definitely making strides in the AFC West, however they are a few years out before they can be considered legitimate contenders for the division title.

Let’s start with additions they made through free agency. In a huge coup, they were able to coax center Rodney Hudson away from the Chiefs. With a young quarterback like Derek Carr, having a solid offensive line should be the No. 1 priority. Carr’s numbers were all over the place last year and patching the holes on the O-line can only help him in his second season.

Another addition to the Raiders that I like was signing Michael Crabtree. Crabtree still has some productive years in front of him, and pairing him up with someone like Amari Cooper gives Carr multiple weapons on offense. Speaking of Amari Cooper, he has the makings to be an absolute stud in this league. He will be a big contributor from day one and could prove to be a major headache for the rest of the AFC West. I also really like the Ben Heeney pick. Going into the draft I thought the Kansas linebacker would be a great pick for the Chiefs to be the successor of Derrick Johnson. Now that he plays for a division rival, I hope that he doesn’t turn into Derrick Johnson.

Other additions: RB Trent Richardson, LB Malcolm Smith

Other departures: SS Tyvon Branch, LB LaMarr Woodley, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, WR James Jones

December 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget (94) scores a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley (74) during the third quarter at Levi

San Diego Chargers

Realistically speaking, the AFC West is a three-horse race this year. That being said, of the three teams, the Chargers are the weakest. Orlando Franklin is a great addition to the offensive line, and Phillip Rivers with new receiving threat Jacoby Jones. Stevie Johnson could be another target for Rivers, but I think he will be primarily used as a third option.

Running back Melvin Gordon could turn into a nightmare for opposing teams. He has the ability to beat defenses on the outside, he can also be a threat receiving out of the backfield. Eventually he could turn into a player similar to Jamaal Charles, however that may be a few years away. Denzel Perryman could compete for time this season with Manti Te’o, but ultimately I see him as a backup come day one.

Other additions: WR Austin Pettis

Other Departures:  RB Ryan Mathews

Dec 28, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Ron Parker (38) is congratulated by cornerback Sean Smith (21) after Parker breaks up a pass play during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 19-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs

Despite the self-loathing I am experiencing right now for saying this, I still think the Broncos are the best team in the AFC West. That said, the Chiefs are a close second. This offseason could prove to be a huge one in the John Dorsey/Andy Reid era. I think the Chiefs are taking the right steps to take the AFC West crown, but it might not happen this year. Even with the additions of Jeremy Maclin, Ben Grubbs, Paul Fanaika, and Marcus Peters, the Chiefs might have to suffer another year under the Broncos.

I am not saying I don’t think they can’t beat the Broncos, in fact I think they will finally defeat Peyton Manning when they face off at Arrowhead. The Chiefs have just been too inconsistent these past couple of years, and the Broncos haven’t been. As long as ole No. 18 is tossing the pigskin around in Denver, they will have to be taken seriously.

Other additions: SS Tyvon Branch, CB Steven Nelson,

Other Departures: WR Dwayne Bowe, WR Donnie Avery, TE Anthony Fasano, C Rodney Hudson

Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) talks with quarterback Peyton Manning (18) as they walk off the field in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 37-28. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Broncos

Even with the loss of one of the best tight ends in the game in Julius Thomas and a complete upheaval in the coaching staff, I would still bet on the Broncos to win the AFC West. It will not be as easy as in past season, and it may come down to tie breakers, but I think they will win it all the same. They kept Demaryius Thomas by applying the franchise tag, which gives Manning a go-to target for one last gasp attempt at a Super Bowl.

Adding Shane Ray to an already stellar pass-rush attack was a great move as well. The Broncos may have to rely more on their defense this year than in the past, but that shouldn’t be cause for concern given the talent they have on their defense.

Other Additions: TE Owen Daniels, OLB Shane Ray

Other Departures: TE Jacob Tamme, WR Wes Welker, TE Julius Thomas

That is my post-draft/pre-preseason prediction on the AFC West, if you agree or disagree with me, let me know in the comments.