Is there a more competitive division in football than the AFC West? In 2016, there were 38 total wins between the four teams in the AFC West. Only the NFC East combined for more total wins (39) between divisional teams last year. Had it not been for the 5-11 Chargers last season, the AFC West was loaded in 2016 and should be a force to reckon with again this season. Here is a breakdown of the 2017 AFC West.
Oakland Raiders (Prediction for 2017 record: 11-5)
The Raiders season was cut short last year once Derek Carr went down with a broken fibula in Week 16. Carr is entering the fourth year of his career with the Raiders, but possibly his last years in Oakland, while they await their new Las Vegas home. With the addition of Oakland native Marshawn Lynch to the backfield, the Raiders are looking to bring a championship home in 2017.
The offense will be led by one of the top quarterbacks in the league with Derek Carr. The Raiders also have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. This should bode well for both Carr and the running game. Amari Cooper (WR) seems to improve upon his stats every season, but has still shown signs of inconsistency in the red zone. That is why Michael Crabtree has revitalized his career ever since joining Oakland. Crabtree has become Carr’s go-to-guy in the red zone. The biggest question on the offensive side of the ball, is which Marshawn Lynch will show up? The tough, bruising running back we have come to love, or the older injury riddled veteran that is hanging onto his last chance of playing football.
The Raiders defense is led by All-Pro defensive superstar Khalil Mack. Outside of that, the Raiders have respectable defensive players, but not necessarily world beaters. The Raiders defense averaged giving up 24.1 points per game last season. The defense will have to improve in 2017 for the Raiders to have a championship run.
Kansas City Chiefs (Prediction for 2017 record: 10-6)
The Chiefs are coming off of a surprising 12-4 season in 2016 which led them to win the AFC West. The Chiefs were riddled with injuries throughout the season. Last year the Chiefs surrendered on average 19.1 points per game to opponents. All four of the Chiefs losses came to teams that finished the year with winning records (Texans, Steelers, Bucs, and Titans). Another valuable piece of information, the Chiefs went 6-0 against their own division last season.
The offense is led by quarterback Alex Smith. After a rough start to his career, Smith has seen a resurgence in his play after departing with the 49ers. Smith finished the season with 3,502 passing yards and 15 touchdowns. Expect much of the same this season from Smith who is the ultimate “game manager.” The running game will have Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West again this upcoming season, after the loss of long-time running back Jamaal Charles in free agency to Denver. The Chiefs also lost wide receiver Jeremy Maclin to the Baltimore Ravens. Which means, even more targets for one of the league’s best tight ends in Travis Kelce.
Look for the Chiefs defense to be as good, if not better than last season. This defense is full of studs like Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, and Derrick Johnson. The AFC West will be decided between the Raiders or the Chiefs.
Denver Broncos (Prediction for 2017 record: 9-7)
You almost wonder if Peyton Manning could have played again last year, if the Broncos would have competed again for a championship. The Denver Broncos were led by their staunch defense in 2016 to a 9-7 overall record.
The offensive production was halted by shaky quarterback play last season. Both Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch both saw playing time, while neither necessarily looked stellar while playing. Going into the 2017 season, the Broncos are still uncertain who will start at quarterback.
The running game for the Broncos struggled mightily last season. CJ Anderson and Devontae Booker could not get any momentum going behind a struggling offensive line. Anderson played in the first half of the season before injuring himself. Booker took over, and was fed the rock plenty of times, but could only average 3.5 YPC on the season. All-Pro wide receiver Demaryius Thomas saw his numbers drop in 2016, but still put up a respectable stat line (90/1,083/5) with poor quarterback play.
The defense has lost some good players to free agency over the last couple of years, but should still be one of the top five defenses in the league. In 2016, the Broncos gave up an average of 18.6 points per game to opponent offenses. If the Broncos can get any production from their quarterback, Denver should push for a Wildcard playoff spot.
Los Angeles Chargers (Prediction for 2017 record: 7-9)
It seems to be Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day for the last decade for the Chargers. Constantly riddled with injuries, the Chargers ended the 2016 season with a 5-11 record. The games were much closer than the record indicates. Only two losses came by nine or more points. Maybe a relocation and new coaching staff will revamp this team.
The Chargers offense is led by the bolo tie wearing quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers threw for 4,386 yards and 33 TDs during the 2016 season. Melvin Gordon had a solid year rushing the ball after a lack luster rookie season.
Gordon finished with 997 rushing yards with 419 receiving yards and 12 total TDs. Gordon did that in 13 games before injuring his knee. If there are negatives to Gordon’s game, it’s his durability and efficiency. He has yet to play more than 14 games in his short two-year career, and has dealt with multiple knee injuries, as well as yet to break the 4.0 YPC threshold. The Chargers are looking forward to getting back a healthy Keenan Allen to pair up with their gun-slinging quarterback and hard-nosed running back.
The defense has some young bright spots with Joey Bosa, but will have to improve upon their 26.4 points allowed per game to opponents, if they want to sniff a run at the playoffs. The Chargers have a decent amount of talent, the question as always will be durability and depth.
Leave your comment below, let us know what you think. For more insightful articles and other fantasy football news, subscribe to our FREE newsletter!