The Kansas City Chiefs remain the favored team to win the AFC West following the 2022 NFL Draft.
On the one hand, it feels funny to think that anyone but the Kansas City Chiefs would be winning the AFC West in ’22 after a historic run of dominance never before seen in the National Football League. On the other hand, the West looks radically different from top to bottom just months after the conclusion of the ’21 season and the Chiefs seem more vulnerable than they’ve been in a few years.
Despite the open window that teams in the AFC West are trying to create, that hasn’t stopped the Chiefs from being labeled by Las Vegas oddsmakers as favorites to win their seventh consecutive division title (+160 per BetSided).
Last year, the Chiefs reeled off their sixth straight AFC West title, a run of supremacy that no franchise has ever accomplished in league history. With Patrick Mahomes leading a historic offense and Andy Reid installed as head coach, the Chiefs looked poised to chase a Super Bowl every year for the foreseeable future. And then came the seismic changes—both in Kansas City and beyond.
This offseason, the Chiefs waved goodbye to defenders like safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Charvarius Ward, defensive end Melvin Ingram, and linebacker Anthony Hitchens. While some of those departures were expected, it was the blockbuster trade of Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins this offseason that gave other teams their best chance. If the Chiefs were ever going to take a step back, it would be as they install so much youth on both sides of the ball.
Chiefs Kingdom likely wouldn’t flinch at the idea of losing the division except this offseason has been unlike any other. The Los Angeles Chargers were already seen as the toughest rival, and that was before they added J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack on the defensive side of the ball. The Las Vegas Raiders went all-in to trade for the league’s best wideout in Davante Adams and signed pass rusher Chandler Jones. The Denver Broncos are the most improved team with their acquisition of Russell Wilson at quarterback.
Each team in the AFC West looks much improved on paper while the Chiefs could take a step back. At the very least, there are more questions about the Chiefs than there have been in years. New faces populate important roles on both sides of the ball, which means no one knows what to expect to start the season.
But here’s the thing: the Chiefs added depth and talent in free agency and followed that up with a draft class widely celebrated by nearly everyone. It also helps to have Mahomes and Reid firmly entrenched in their roles along with Travis Kelce, Chris Jones, and an elite offensive line. These Chiefs are still going to be a very tough opponent for any team and if the younger players can make the leap, the Chiefs might be more set than ever for a series of title runs.