We are drawing closer to the start of the NFL season, as all 32 teams report to training camp this month. There will be so much to anticipate this year, including a new 17 game regular season. Rookies like Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be fun to watch. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face an insane amount of pressure as they try to repeat as champions. Of course, we will all be watching for this year’s breakout star. As we count down the days to the opening kickoff, let’s preview the divisions. Today, we are looking at the AFC West.
The Kansas City Chiefs once again proved they were the best team in the AFC, and it showed when they took on their division counterparts. If you take out one loss at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders, and a Week 17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers where they benched all their starters, the Chiefs were in control all season long.
The Chargers were a massive disappointment and that ultimately led to the termination of head coach Anthony Lynn. The Denver Broncos got hot down the stretch, but it was too little too late for them. The Las Vegas Raiders – still getting used to writing that – missed out on the postseason yet again, and we must wonder whether head coach Jon Gruden is now on the hot seat. Las Vegas looked like a contender some weeks and in others, they were a team that had no business being mentioned in any postseason discussions.
Favorite to Win in 2021
The Chiefs are the obvious favorites, and they have every right to be in the driver seat of that conversation. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is at the top of his game and the Chiefs made his offensive line a lot younger and more versatile this offseason. Behind them, I think the Chargers will shock some people this year and QB Justin Herbert is going to continue to get better. He was the top rookie in 2020 and familiarity with his receivers means he’s on pace for an even better 2021. As for the Raiders and Broncos, it’s always a toss-up between them, but they certainly won’t lead the division.
Offensive Player to Watch: Patrick Mahomes
He is a once in a generation talent and he continues to get better every single year. Coming off a loss in the Super Bowl, it will be interesting to see how he recovers. For all we know, we are about to get a season out of him that we have never seen before. He hasn’t topped 5,000 passing yards since 2018, but he should hit that mark this season.
Defensive Player to Watch: Justin Simmons
He’s now the highest-paid safety in the league and the Broncos made sure that he wasn’t going anywhere after franchise-tagging him a season ago. Simmons is a ball-hawk and attacker and he racked up five interceptions last season. This Broncos defense is good, and he’s the new leader of it.
Prediction: Chiefs (14-3)
Let’s be real here, the Chiefs are going to win this division and I don’t anticipate it being all that close. They are returning their entire offense with upgrades on the offensive line and that defense will be looking to avenge itself after getting torched in the Super Bowl.