Division of Change – 2018 AFC West Preview

The AFC West has been consistent throughout the years, once a team got control, they would go on to control the division for years. From 2006-2009, the then San Diego Chargers controlled the division, from 2011-2015, the division was controlled by the Denver Broncos and the last two years the Kansas City Chiefs won the west. The consistency of this division may change this year as we will see two new starting quarterbacks and a new 100 million-dollar head coach.


 Denver Broncos

Record in 2017: 5-11

Key Player:  Quarterback – Case Keenum

Player to Watch:  Outside Linebacker -Bradley Chubb

In 2017, the Denver Broncos struggled offensively as they had no answer at the quarterback which led to the defense constantly being on the field. In the off-season, the Broncos picked up quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum helped led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship game last season. The Vikings had the top ranked defense in the league last season which gave them the room for error that a journeyman quarterback like Keenum needs. The Broncos have a good defense but not great. Keenum will be asked to do more because of that. Prediction 6-10


 Oakland Raiders

Record in 2017: 6-10

Key Player: Wide Receiver – Amari Cooper

Player to Watch: Head Coach – Jon Gruden

Last year, the Raiders did not live up to expectations as both the offense and defense ranked below 20th in the league. This led to the Raiders making a change at head coach and giving Jon Gruden the biggest contract for a head coach in NFL history. Gruden is known for his offensive brilliance and should be a great help for their young quarterback Derek Carr. Oakland has a mixture of youth and experience on the defensive side of the ball but they may be even worse on defense this year as they traded away their best defensive player Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. This is a transition season for the Raiders and success usually comes after transition. Prediction 5-11


 Los Angeles Chargers

Record in 2017: 9-7

Key Player: Melvin Gordan

Player to Watch: Joey Bosa

The Los Angeles Chargers 2017 season was an interesting one as they looked the part of an elite team. They had the 13th ranked offense and 3rd ranked defense but still didn’t make the playoffs. A top-five defense and a pretty good offense is usually a recipe for a contending team. The Chargers found themselves last year in the second half of the season and it looks like that should carry over to this season. The mistakes that cost them games last year should be mitigated this season. This division has the NFC West and AFC North on their schedule and there is no reason outside of injuries for this team not to succeed. Prediction 11-5


 Kansas City Chiefs

Record in 2017: 10-6

Key Player: Pat Mahomes

Player to Watch: Eric Berry

The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC West for the second straight season in 2017 but decided to go in a different direction this year. In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chiefs chose Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes and he sat behind veteran quarterback Alex Smith all year. Smith had a successful season as he led Kansas City to the playoffs but has always been criticized for not being able to get the ball up the field vertically. That is one thing Mahomes will not have trouble with as he has one of, if not, the biggest arm in the NFL. As a young player, Mahomes will make mistakes and special plays. It should be an interesting season. Prediction 10-6

Damian Adams

San Diego, California

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