Can the KC Chiefs contend in a loaded AFC West?

Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

It certainly has been an offseason of change for AFC West opponents, so how worried do we, as Kansas City Chiefs fans, need to be heading into this next season?

Let’s start with this interesting tidbit: the Chiefs are projected to have the toughest schedule in the NFL this upcoming season. Not surprising given the outlook of the division and the fact that the Chiefs won the division last year.

Just a few of the teams on the regular-season slate for 2022 include the reigning Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who somehow convinced Tom Brady to un-retire), the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Tennessee Titans. That doesn’t include the Chargers twice, the Broncos twice, and the Raiders twice within the West. That’s pretty stiff competition, making the road to the playoffs—much less the Super Bowl—that much tougher.

With all the moves made by AFC West rivals, can the Chiefs, who have been quiet in free agency, contend with the talent that has flooded in?

The biggest issues facing the Chiefs are the changes made by the team’s division rival teams. The easiest way to get to the playoffs is to win your division, and that looks infinitely more difficult this year.

We all know that the Chargers were the biggest competition last year and they have only gotten better. Early in free agency, the Chargers signed J.C. Jackson to a monster deal. Presumably, this was done to slow down Tyreek Hill… little did the stupid Bolts know. The Chargers also traded for Khalil Mack to complement Joey Bosa and create a formidable pass rush in L.A. While signing outside names to their team was one way the Chargers tried to get better, they also took care of their own by locking down wide receiver Mike Williams for the long term.

Clearly, the Chargers were working to make sure they fixed the issues they ran into last year in the hopes of capitalizing on the cheap rookie contract of stud quarterback Justin Herbert. The Chargers upgraded and still have room to upgrade in the draft. This will certainly be a tough challenge for the Chiefs.

While the Chargers made big splashes, we all know the Donkeys in Denver had one huge problem that has haunted them since Peyton Manning’s departure: quarterback. We have seen the carousel and made fun of it year after year. They went out and seemed to have fixed it by signing Russel Wilson.

Not only that, but the Broncos swooped in last minute to undercut the Cowboys and steal Randy Gregory away from them to complement Bradley Chubb. The Broncos desperately want to be viewed as contenders and these moves (along with the numerous re-signings of their receivers) make them look like they could compete.

Finally, the Raiders are really trying not to be the worst team in the division, and in doing so, they reset the wide receiver market by signing Davante Adams to the richest wide receiver deal in NFL history—that is until Tyreek happened.

The Raiders needed help at wide receiver given the loss of Henry Ruggs in the middle of the season and Adams is a major upgrade. In addition, the Raiders added former Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones to help Maxx Crosby sack the quarterback.

What I noticed from all these teams was a weird trend: speedy wide receivers with a quarterback who can use them (except for Derek Carr, he is not great) coupled with a dominant pass rush. It seems like all these moves are in response to the Chiefs. So what did the Chiefs do? They zigged when everyone else zagged, at least that is my hope.

With the trade of Hill, it looks like the Chiefs are probably trying to reinvent themselves to overcome the increase in talent expressed by their division rivals. Will we see the reemergence of the Andy Reid screen game? I think there is a real possibility. Maybe we will utilize Clyde Edwards-Helaire in a different way that will justify his first-round selection. We’ve seen an evolution at wide receiver: bigger-bodied receivers that are good blockers rather than just relying on speed.

Do I believe the Chiefs are going to have a tough season? Yes, but do I believe they can get there and win the division again? Also yes. The Chiefs need to use their picks in the upcoming draft, but they are certainly looking at a new saga in the dynasty story and with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, these Chiefs can do anything.

dark. Next. Eight players worth trading up for in the draft