2020 NFL Preview: AFC West

Written By: SimpleSlates

June 12, 2020

AFC WEST PREDICTIONS

Next, we finish up our look at the AFC Conference by heading out west to take a shot at predicting the AFC West. This division is probably the most exciting in the conference and is home to the Superbowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.  

With the 2020 season right around the corner the question is the same for the entire division…who is going to stop the Chiefs? The other teams in the AFC West are all in what most would call a rebuilding period, and it is going to take a really good team to be able to win a shootout with the Chiefs.

 

#1.) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

The Chiefs are the team to beat, and most likely will remain in that spot for at least the new few seasons. They are young, fast, and extremely talented. Not to mention they have Andy Reid at the helm, who is a coach that loves to adopt the West Coast principles of getting the ball into your playmaker’s hands quickly and then watching them do their thing.

The offense hasn’t changed much, but it didn’t need to. The Chiefs easily had the most explosive offense in the NFL last season. They have speed everywhere and a quarterback that is no stranger to making magic happen named Patrick Mahomes. The only position where an improvement might have been able to be made, was running back. After the unjust departure of Kareem Hunt, the team went with a committee approach. It was effective, but the addition of Clyde Edwards-Helaire from LSU in the 2020 draft was picture perfect. Edwards-Helaire runs with an aggressive style, while maintaining the agility to make quick cuts. He is also an exceptional receiver out of the backfield. He should be special in this offense. 

Defensively the Chiefs only had one potentially scary loss possible. That was defensive tackle Chris Jones, but he isn’t going anywhere as the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on him. Aside from him the biggest losses were Emmanuel Ogbah and Kendall Fuller, but neither one of them will make or break a defense. To be fair the defense was never really the strength of this team anyway. 

We expect the Chiefs to run away with the division again, fairly easily in fact. The other teams will just be trying to perform well enough to compete for a wild card spot. Highly doubtful that anyone disagrees with this except maybe fans of other teams in the division.

 

#2.) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

The Chargers did say goodbye to their veteran quarterback that has been under center for the last many years. For that reason, many expect them to struggle this season. We are leaning the other way.

The Chargers offense is set to be very similar to the offense that took the field last season. They will have the change at QB, and in our opinion, this will be what decides the season for them. If they show sense and start Tyrod Taylor for the entire year, we expect them to finish well. If for some reason they give in at the first sign of trouble and begin to play Herbert, this season can go south very quickly. The only really notable loss beyond Rivers this season was Melvin Gordon, but he wasn’t really the go to running back in the Chargers offense anyway, with Los Angeles getting more production from Ekeler. The offensive line has seen a good boost in the offseason as well with Bulaga and Trai Turner coming in. 

The Bolt’s defense took a few bumps in free agency as well, but the gains far outweigh the losses. They added Chris Harris from the division rival Broncos, linebacker Nick Vigil from the Bengals, and big Linval Joseph to anchor the defensive line. Not to mention they drafted Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma, who we believed to be the best pure linebacker in the draft. We expect this defense to keep the Chargers competitive all season, which will allow Tyrod Taylor to shine on the offensive side. Even this defense will not be able to save Herbert however, should they choose to go that route. 

Picking the bottom three in this division could just as accurately be done by rolling dice, but assuming the right decisions are made with the offense, we expect the Chargers to finish in second and possibly be in the wild card hunt.

 

#3.) DENVER BRONCOS

Next up, the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are just coming into their next era, finally finding the next QB to lead the team last season. The Broncos manage to stay in the hunt most seasons just from the strength of their defense. This season, again assuming the Chargers play at their best, we expect that to fall short. 

On the offensive side of the ball it is the Drew Lock show. After going through a handful of supposed franchise quarterbacks, they have found one that looks like he is capable of being the guy. The real question for the Broncos is can they put enough around him in a short time period to get past the tough AFC teams. They did add Melvin Gordon at running back this season, but sadly we expect him to be a disappointment, essentially a legal thief with the amount of money he was able to snare from the move. The only real saving grace there is that the Broncos have notoriously been able to turn water into wine at the position. Aside from the question mark at running back, the offense is looking really solid. They are very young and come with loads of talent, including rookie draft pick Jerry Jeudy from Alabama.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the star defensive player is not getting any younger. Can the Broncos get it together before Von Miller calls it quits? It would be ideal for them as right now they have a monstrous pass rush between Miller and Chubb. The best cornerback on the team did leave for division rival Los Angeles, but the hurt from that was at least partially taken care of with the addition of A.J. Bouye at the dirt cheap cost of a round four pick.

The Broncos are definitely going to be in the mix for the wild card competition in our opinion, and depending on a few things could swap spots with the Chargers. Ultimately they are still a year or two away from being a real threat however.

 

#4.) LAS VEGAS RAIDERS

The Raiders get our dead last spot in the AFC West. They are not here because of talent, but rather what we believe to be piss poor front office management and sub-par coaching. Whether it be a horrible trade, or predictable play calling, the Raiders just can’t seem to get out of their own way. For what it’s worth this offseason was not bad at all, but it still has to run through Gruden so we don’t expect much.

The offense comes with possibly the most underrated quarterback in the league, Derek Carr. Add into the mix one of the best running backs last year when healthy, Josh Jacobs. Then mix in one of the all around fastest receiving corps in the NFL that features Darren Waller at tight end and newly drafted Henry Ruggs and Lynn Bowden Jr. at wide receiver. The talent is here, but Spider 2 Y Banana isn’t going to be enough for Gruden to get them to the promised land.   

On the defensive side, the Raiders made moves. They acquired Demarious Randall, Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkowski, Jeff Heath, Carl Nassib, and Maliek Collins on the defensive side of the ball. Some will start, while others provide much needed depth. The only possible blunder on the defensive side was drafting cornerback Damon Arnette in the second round with other, more highly graded corners still available. The Raiders claim they evaluated Arnette much higher than the rest of the league and his combine numbers however, so it remains to be seen if it was a steal or a mistake.

At the end of the day, the Raiders just excel in underwhelming performances. In a division that is just continuing to get better and be the leader in the AFC Conference, we have no reason to expect anything else. Bright side, one more great draft pick incoming.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR AFC WEST EXPECTATIONS?

What do you think is going to happen in the AFC West for the 2020 season? Let us know in the comments below. Do you agree with or dislike our assessment of your team in this division? Again, let us know. 

As always, make sure to follow on Twitter @SimpleSlates and like us on FaceBook @SimpleSlates for more sports posts and DFS content! 

You May Also Like…

NFL Playoff Picture

NFL Playoff Picture

The NFC Week 15 of the NFL is already coming up this weekend, which means the playoffs are only 3 weeks away. The...

NBA 2020 Preview

NBA 2020 Preview

The NBA preseason kicked off on Friday, after a two-month offseason. In these two days of basketball, we saw the...

Looking Ahead to Week 14

Looking Ahead to Week 14

Week 14 is gearing up to be one of the more interesting weeks of the NFL season so far, with heavy playoff...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.