The competition in the AFC West has reached a boiling point as every team is in “win now” mode with recent acquisitions.
Since Andy Reid took over the Chiefs for the 2013 season, the Chiefs have dominated the AFC West. Reid has led to Chiefs to six-straight divisional titles.
Reid began his Chiefs tenure without a division title in his first three seasons in Kansas City. But since then, the Chiefs have dominated a division of teams on the outside looking in. Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Teams are not only rebuilding but ready to take their realistic shot at competing for the AFC West. They’ve done this by adding depth to their defensive lines and other key additions. Every divisional loser from last season has made significant strides to ensure this type of run doesn’t happen again.
This is how I see the AFC West power rankings at this point in free agency.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
The theme of the Chiefs’ offseason was moving on from key pieces. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill is taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Dolphins via a trade, and All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu also looks to be playing elsewhere in the 2022 season.
The Chiefs’ front office wants to have more depth at the receiver position. They signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, both have proven to be effective second option wide receivers in winning systems.
Neither will have to worry about being “the first option,” as All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce looks to have his seventh consecutive 1,000 yards receiving season.
The Chiefs signed safety Justin Reid from the Houston Texans, looking to rebuild off the success of Mathieu. This franchise looks to still not be completely done making moves, as both of these decisions have opened up nearly $30 million in cap space to make moves. Even without Mathieu and Hill, the Chiefs still have one of the most talented and explosive offenses in the league. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues to show the NFL he is a force to be reckoned with, after hosting his fourth-straight conference championship game.
It’ll be interesting to see how the new offense functions, but recent acquisitions and departures have made Kansas City one of the biggest question marks going into the NFL Draft and regular season.
2. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers missed the postseason, but second-year quarterback Justin Herbert put the league on notice as one of the premier young quarterbacks in the AFC.
The biggest acquisition was adding former Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack, who will be lined up opposite of defensive end Joey Bosa could be a problematic pass rush.
The Charges also resigned wide receiver Mike Williams to a three-year, $60 million deal. Williams comes off of one of his best seasons, with nine touchdowns and over 1,100 receiving yards.
The likely production of both Mack and Bosa together would make the Chargers the most likely team to dethrone the Chiefs.
3. Las Vegas Raiders
Despite making the playoffs in nail-biting fashion against the Chargers, the Raiders still seem to be a team on the outside looking in.
The Raiders added two key players this offseason, the first being pass rusher Chandler Jones. The Raiders gave Jones a three-year, $51 million deal. This will make another duo of pass rushers: Jones and Maxx Crosby could give offensive lines and quarterbacks headaches this season.
The Raiders also scored huge by picking up Davante Adams in a trade with Green Bay. Quarterback Derek Carr and Adams excelled at Fresno State and could bring out that dominant collegiate connection to the league.
Adams is a matchup problem for any cornerback, as he’s shown to be one of if not the best receiver in the league with the Green Bay Packers.
The Raiders have the most upside from last season as anyone in the division. The duo of Adams-Carr and Jones-Crosby will either make or break the Raiders this season.
4. Denver Broncos
Since Peyton Manning won the Broncos a Super Bowl in 2016, the quarterback play in Denver has been lackluster, to say the least.
That all changed when they traded for Russell Wilson from the Seahawks. Wilson has proven time after time he impacts winning. When he went down last season with a finger injury, the Seahawks crumbled in a very competitive NFC West.
Like every other AFC West team not named the Chiefs, the Broncos also picked up a pass rusher. Defensive end Randy Gregory left the Cowboys to sign a five-year contract in Denver.
But despite getting a top-tier quarterback in Wilson, the Broncos still have several holes and depth needed to be competitive in this divisional race.