2024 Division Preview: AFC West

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NFC East (and Introduction)

NFC North

NFC South

NFC West

AFC East

AFC North

AFC South

1. Kansas City Chiefs

 

During most of the Mahomes era the Chiefs have won on the back of their offense with their defense doing just enough to not lose games. But after years of investment in the defense it was finally the other way around, where the Chiefs won the Super Bowl on the back of their defense with an inconsistent offense.

This offseason they’ve finally reversed that trend. They let Sneed and Gay walk while bringing in Xavier Worthy and Marquise Brown to bolster the receiving core and using their 2nd round pick on a left tackle. There is every reason to expect the defense to take a step back without Sneed (unless Felix Anudike-Uzomah makes a major improvement over his rookie season), but the offense should be able to make up for it by returning to it’s former glory.

And it’s not just the improvements made. As I have been saying throughout these previews, often it’s more about avoiding asking players to do something they’re not capable of doing than it is about having star players. By not having to ask Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney to be featured receiving threats the offense will automatically take a step forward.

The rest advantage is also bigger than it looks. We face the Panthers coming off a bye, which is the difference between a +12 and +5 rest advantage for the season. That game is actually a surprisingly tough spot, but if the Chiefs can manage to avoid the trap game there they’re set up to have consistent rest advantages throughout the season.

I don’t see any reason why the Chiefs shouldn’t be Super Bowl favorites once again.

2. Las Vegas Raiders

 

I hate to say it, but the Raiders have had a really good team-building process the past couple of years. I’ve long advocated for teams without an answer at quarterback to sign a guy like Minshew as their starter. Like I said in the NFC South preview, you can argue that Baker Mayfield is better than Minshew, but can anybody seriously argue he’s 3x better like his contract suggests? That difference isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. Going cheap at quarterback is why the Raiders were also able to bring in a star player like Christian Wilkins.

The Raiders were almost perfectly average last year. They made an upgrade at quarterback, at head coach, and at defensive line. I don’t think they’ll be a contender this year because of their horrible drafting, but they have given themselves a chance to build a legitimate contender even if they don’t find a star quarterback.

With 7 playoff spots the Raiders should have playoff expectations. I wouldn’t be completely surprised if they ended up with the top wildcard spot.

3. Los Angeles Chargers

 

It’s hard to know what to think with the Chargers. Just looking at their roster they definitely took a major step back, most notably with the double whammy they suffered at receiver by losing Allen and Williams in the same offseason. This is going to be a less talented roster than last year.

But going from Brandon Staley to Jim Harbaugh is a major improvement at head coach. Staley was awful in LA, while Harbaugh has been successful everywhere he’s gone, including in San Francisco. 

I don’t know which of these factors will outweigh the other, so I’m just going to assume they’ll cancel each other out. They will be better than 5-12, but their 5-8 level with Herbert will remain about the same.

4. Denver Broncos

 

It will be painful in the short term, but the Broncos did the right thing but ripping off the Russell Wilson band-aid (although I believe they should have ripped it off entirely instead of pushing some of his cap hit into 2025). 

Like so many teams, how good the Broncos are depends on how well their rookie quarterback plays. Most considered Bo Nix to be a reach, and I am one of them, so I’m not optimistic. But you never know, weirder things have happened.

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KCChef
06/19/2024 10:20 pm

The Chiefs were -11 in TO’s last year ,,, My Crystal Ball sees at least a regression to a “Norm ” … ; )

Team Player
06/19/2024 5:13 pm

You REALLY hate Russ!!!

KCChef
Reply to  Team Player
06/19/2024 10:21 pm
hoosierchief
06/19/2024 3:27 pm

definitely picked the right team for first place!

upamtn
Reply to  hoosierchief
06/19/2024 5:03 pm

yeah he did

hard to say what’ll happen with The Other Three but seems to me you could put them in (almost) any order and be correct … and all of them anywhere from 6-9 to 10-7 (and making the playoffs)

Team Player
Reply to  upamtn
06/19/2024 5:12 pm

He got Brown and Worthy mixed up however

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