Defenses are key for a team to take the crown, but which team from the AFC West has the caliber to do that?
As the old adage goes, “defense wins championships”. This holds true in some occurrences like the 2019 Super Bowl where the Patriots held the Rams to just a measly three points. This is also true for the Chiefs as well as even though the offensive attack was the main reason they won, the Chiefs wouldn’t have scratched the surface of winning if the defense didn’t come up in some huge plays. So, let’s dive into the defenses of the AFC West and see which defense can light a candle to that adage.
Kansas City Chiefs: C+
Before I get torn into, let me explain why they get this low of a grade. The number one reason is the atrocious run defense last year. The Chiefs ranked 26th in rushing defense according to Pro Football Reference due to the fact that the team allowed around five yards a carry, around 128 rushing yards per game, and allowed over 2000 rushing yards in that season alone! The Chiefs must find ways to plug up the rushing lanes next season or might have to lean on the offense for another season. The passing defense is another story as the Chiefs ranked 8th according to Pro Football Reference. This is mainly due to the presence of Mathieu, Thornhill, Ward, and others deflecting 65 passes, intercepting 16 passes, allowing a completion percentage of 60.5%, and making receivers fight for that reception. This grade could easily raise if the Chiefs can improve their run defense!
Denver Broncos: C
The good ole Denver Broncos are up next and they will be given the sweet rank of C. The 2015 Broncos defense was a force to be reckoned with as they were raked among the top three defenses to ever exist in the NFL, but let’s just say that has diminished greatly in the past five years; especially last season. While they did rank tenth in overall defense, they lacked in rush defense as they were ranked in the dead center at 16th. This was mainly due to allowing around 4 yards per carry and allowing around 111 rushing yards per game. Other than that, they had an average year on the defensive side, but improvements must be made to ensure that they have a shot at the playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers: B
They will always remain the San Diego Chargers to me and nobody is gonna stop me. This past season, they were in the top five among passing defenses just this year and has been shutting down top tier QBs like Patrick Mahomes. If you don’t believe me, here’s the proof. In their first meeting against the Chiefs last season, the Chargers defense held Mahomes to only 182 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception, which was one of the worst performances for Mahomes. They were able to again in their next meeting as Mahomes was held to fewer yards than last game with a touchdown and an interception. The only flaws the Chargers had were in rush defense where they ranked 18th in that department. They allowed 15 rushing touchdowns, around 4 yards per carry, around 113 rushing yards per game, so on and so forth. Some cleanup is needed, but they do deserve that B.
Las Vegas Raiders: C-
This is another name I will never get used to in a long time. Let’s start with the negatives as the Raiders had one of the worst passing defenses in the league. They had the second-lowest interceptions with only nine, allowed over 4000 yards passing, allowed 33 passing touchdowns, a tied-lowest in QB hits with 64, and more! I can state without a doubt that they have the worst passing defense in the AFC West. Sorry Raiders fans if you’re reading this, but stats don’t lie. On a positive note, you had one of the top-ten NFL run defenses in the league, so you are all doing something right. The Raiders just have to drastically improve their pass defense and you’ll have a great shot at winning more and more games.
In closing, these are my defensive rankings for the AFC West. It seems as though the Chargers have the best one, but it looks like it didn’t hold true to the adage I told about. We will see if all four of these teams make the improvements necessary to make them the best defenses they could possibly achieve! Thanks for reading and have an awesome day.