The Andy Reid era has led to such dominance in the AFC West, it is understandable that many Chiefs fans are completely unconcerned about their division competition in 2020. I mean, Andy Reid has destroyed AFC West opponents since 2015 with an absurd 27-3 record. To make matters worse, Mahomes has an unbelievable 12-1 record against AFC West rivals. It is completely understandable if Chiefs fans would yawn at the idea of their AFC West crown being in jeopardy. However, the quickest way to lose the dynasty status the Chiefs are longing for is to lose their dominance in the division. So, which team proves to be the biggest obstacle for the Chiefs continuing their rule over the AFC West with Mahomes’ iron fist? My answer: The Denver Broncos.
At first glance, the Las Vegas Raiders and LA Chargers would seem to be the more talented and worthy adversaries. However, there are strong reasons to question their upside in 2020. The Raiders started 2019 with a bang. By midseason, Chiefs fans were nervous and the second matchup against Gruden’s team had serious division implications. It is easy to forget what a dumpster fire the final third of the season was for the Raiders. The Raiders ended their season 1-5. They were crushed by the Jets, Chiefs, and Titans and also lost to the Jaguars and Broncos. Their play was so embarrassing, their final home game ended in a riot. Las Vegas lipstick isn’t going to make this pig any prettier. Add in a 7 million dollar backup QB named Mariota with an insecure Derek Carr, and you have a recipe for disaster. Likewise, the Chargers enter the 2020 season with a lot of uncertainty. So far, the Chargers have lost two foundational players in Rivers and Gordon. Regardless of the rest of their roster, Patrick Mahomes squaring off with Tyrod Taylor or any first-year rookie is a foregone conclusion. It is likely that the Chargers lack of future planning could be the beginning of a QB carousel that would lead to futility for years to come.
This leaves us with the Denver Broncos. Unlike the Raiders, the Denver Broncos actually picked up steam as 2019 went along. They won 4 of their last 5 games (losing to the Chiefs in week 15) and all of these games were the first starts by their rookie quarterback, Drew Lock. Drew Lock has flown under the national radar due to the Broncos falling out of contention early in 2019. However, in his few starts to end the year, he has only lost to the Superbowl MVP. Meanwhile, he threw a respectable 7 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. The young QB looks like he could be the foundational piece that John Elway had been scrambling for since losing Peyton Manning. It is safe to say that Lock and the Broncos will only improve as the young QB gains experience heading into 2020.
At the end of the day, it is safe to say that the Chiefs have very little to worry about from their AFC West counterparts. The Chiefs are set for another sweep against this lackluster division, bolstering Mahomes’ eye-popping record against his closest rivals to a likely 18-1 at the end of the 2020 regular season. However, if the Chiefs are to experience a bump in the road, don’t be surprised if it happens in Denver.