Do the Chiefs really play in the best division in football? The AFC West has gotten better this offseason, but more than that it has become severely overhyped.
On paper, a lot of so-called “experts” are calling the AFC West the best division in football for the 2022 season. I can understand why people think this way. The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl contenders with the best coach/quarterback combo in the league. Having them in the division is a huge step towards being the best.
The Chiefs Lead A Pack Of Improved Rosters Ahead Of 2022
Then there are the Los Angeles Chargers. The reigning and defending April Super Bowl champions 14 years and running. They have one of the most talented rosters in the league. A great young quarterback in Justin Hubert and solid wideouts in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams round out what should be a top 10 offense. On defense, they have Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Jerry Tillery, and shiny new additions J.C. Jackson and Khalil Mack. On paper, they should be in any Super Bowl conversation.
The Denver Broncos finished 2021 with a top-five defense in the NFL. But their offense was horrible with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. This season they have added a future Hall of Famer in Russell Wilson at quarterback. Wilson has great weapons in wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick. Former Mizzou standout tight-end, Albert Okwuegbunam, came on strong last season which is why they felt comfortable in trading Noah Fant away in the Wilson deal. On paper, the defense should be just as strong as it was in 2021 but the offense has gone from the worst quarterback room in the NFL to boasting a future Hall of Famer.
The Las Vegas Raiders appear to be the red-headed stepchild of the division. They made the playoffs last year, defeating the Chargers in the last game of the season to punch their ticket. Then they took the Cincinnati Bengals to the edge in a game some would say they should have won in the playoffs. All they did in the off-season is add possibly the best wide receiver in the league in Devante Adams. Adams also happens to be a former college teammate of Derek Carr at Fresno State. On defense, they added Chandler Jones to rush the passer alongside Maxx Crosby.
On paper that is a lot of upgrades in one division. So yes, I can understand why many say the Chiefs are going to be playing in the hardest division in football in 2022. But just because I understand it, does not mean I need to agree with it.
Chiefs Should Dominate As The Rest Of The West Falls Short
If what people say in April mattered as much as people give it credit for, then the Chargers would be the greatest franchise in sports history. The reality is that while the division will be better, it still will be dominated by the Chiefs.
Let’s start back in Los Angeles. The Chargers choke every single year, and they have for decades. There is no rhyme or reason why they choke every year. If any franchise in the NFL is cursed by the football gods, it is the Los Angeles Chargers. They have had Hall of Fame talent all over the field for decades, yet they haven’t made it to a Super Bowl since getting destroyed by the San Francisco 49ers following the 1994 season.
I am going to predict right now that the Chargers’ special teams will let them down multiple times in 2022. James, Bosa, and Allen are going to miss at least six games each. Herbert is going to put up big numbers, but like his predecessor Phillip Rivers, they will be mostly meaningless statistics.
They are going to be a good team and will push the Chiefs when they go head to head for sure. But they will lose multiple games they have no reason to lose. Injuries will plague them and when the season ends they will be sitting on the playoff bubble as an 8-9 to 10-7 team. Then they will be pre-season AFC West favorites in 2023 and the cycle will continue.
Now we have to talk about the Raiders and try not to laugh as we do it. The Raiders are going to be good in 2022, I really don’t have much bad to say about them. They have one of the best pass-rush duos in the league with Crosby and Jones. Carr is a solid quarterback who now has multiple weapons with Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller. They are going to be a solid team and I predict they will finish second in the division yet again if they stay healthy.
But like the Chargers, they will not be any type of contenders for playoff success. They will be around that .500 mark as they fight for every win all season. Their record will look good, but they won’t be any serious threat to anyone.
We finish up with the darlings of the league and “Mr. Unlimitted”. I’m going to say right now that the Broncos are going to finish last in the division. They will not be a good football team and will likely be looking at quarterback early in the 2023 NFL Draft.
I know what you are thinking, with such a great defense and offensive weapons adding Wilson, how can they possibly be bad? They will be bad because Wilson is done as a top-level quarterback. He is likely to spend at least a few games on the injured list and he does not have the arm that he used to. There were great weapons in Seattle with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, yet we saw how bad the Seahawks were in 2021.
Yes, the defense has talent, but they are playing a weak schedule which makes them look better than they are. Anytime they went up against a real team, they got exposed. With Wilson being a shell of himself, I do not expect the Broncos to get any better than they were last season. I think six wins is the ceiling for them in 2022. Mr. Unlimited will be happy cashing his checks and making horrible YouTube videos but the team will fail.
The Chiefs are going to win at least 12 games and win the division for the seventh season in a row. Just like in 2021 the Chargers and Raiders will be average NFL teams and likely come down to the final weeks of the season to see who finishes second. The Broncos will come in a distant fourth. Overall the division record may look impressive with a dominating team and two more teams around .500. But the fact that only one of the teams will even sniff being a Super Bowl contender will hurt them as a great division overall. Once the season is over, they’ll be looked at as a good division, but they won’t be the best.
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