Is this the beginning of a new dynasty? With the Super Bowl winning Kansas City Chiefs, not losing any pieces, it will be difficult for the Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers to compete with them. However, the Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers, each made strides to improve their offenses. This division has the potential for some close and meaningful games to determine who makes the playoffs. With the 2020 schedule set, there are some significant games each AFC West team will play. With that said, this is an eight-part series where our Scorecrow NFL analysts do an early prediction of the wins and losses of each team. We projected all 256 games and have the winners and losers of each division!
Make sure to check out the rest of our record projections here.
Kansas City Chiefs
Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers
Winner of the AFC West
Brady: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) | Team MVP: Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs have the offensive talent to win the Super Bowl again. If the offense can stay on pace to score as much as they did last year, then they will be successful for most games. The addition of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire creates a new dimension in the offense, where simple screen passes and swings should be more successful. However, Edwards-Helaire is also a slot receiver, catching over 50 passes last year at LSU. With Edwards-Helaire as a starter, there isn’t a better supporting cast around a quarterback. The only holes on the team are on the defensive side of the ball which may be their undoing.
Dale: Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) | Team MVP: Patrick Mahomes
It took them exactly four decades to do it, but the Kansas City Chiefs were finally able to get themselves over the hump. With a Super Bowl victory firmly under their belt and all their key offensive weapons still intact for at least this upcoming season. They are in a great spot as it right now, especially when you look at Mahomes quarterback competition in the AFC West division. Also with Tom Brady and the New England Patriot dynasty now finished, it removes one less obstacle for Andy Reid and the Chiefs in their quest for another Super Bowl run.
Ethan: Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) | Team MVP: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
The defending Super Bowl champs will likely find themselves atop the AFC West for the fifth straight season. However, it won’t be quite as easy this year as both the Chargers and Broncos have shown a lot of improvement this offseason. Luckily, the Chiefs are returning nearly every single start from last season and have added some solid talent through the NFL draft. The Chiefs will be in a lot of shootouts, and Edwards-Helaire adds a whole new dimension to this offense and should get a lot of touches this season.
Sam: Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) | Team MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes will likely never duplicate the 50 touchdowns he hurled in 2018, although he can be counted on to best the 26 from 2019 after missing games due to injury. What is rarely mentioned about the gunslinger is that he holds an interception rate of 1.6%. In the last two seasons combined, he has connected on 76 touchdowns with just 17 interceptions, which is positively baffling given the style that he plays. While the more compelling storylines may happen below Kansas City in an extremely powerful division, the cream rises to the top for Mahomes and company (including new addition Edwards-Helaire alongside Damien Williams and possible breakout candidate Darwin Thompson) as they cruise back into the playoffs to defend their title.
Loser of the AFC West
Brady: Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) | Team MVP: Josh Jacobs
Derek Carr is arguably the biggest problem for this team. They selected wide receiver Henry Ruggs III with the 12th overall pick in hopes that it’ll force Carr to make more downfield throws. Really the pick doesn’t make a lot of sense as Carr is a check down machine and only sometimes is willing to work the intermediate part of the field. This is a big problem as Ruggs excels in deep catching and speed. As well, the defense still has significant holes at cornerback and defensive tackle. I don’t believe they can keep up with the other three teams. For the 2021 offseason, they may need to ask themselves if Carr is the future.
Dale: Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) | Team MVP: Austin Ekeler
With Philip Rivers now finally out of the picture after 15 years, the Chargers have now handed over the reins to nine-year journeyman Tyrod Taylor, while they allow Justin Herbert to sit and observe for the foreseeable future. Taylor had some good seasons with the Buffalo Bills, however over the past two NFL seasons, he has started just three games. Those three games were in 2018 with the Cleveland Browns, which funnily enough was when Taylor began the season as the placeholder for Baker Mayfield.
Ethan: Las Vegas Raiders (6-10) | Team MVP: Josh Jacobs
Despite the addition of Ruggs through the draft and veteran Nelson Agholor, with Carr and Marcus Mariota as your two quarterbacks, this is going to be a run-first team. Jacobs was putting up a rookie of the year season until he started to deal with some injuries late in the season. The Raiders are victims of circumstance this season as the other teams in their division are the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers. The Broncos and Chargers look much better this season, and you can almost guarantee four or five losses in the division.
Sam: Las Vegas Raiders (5-11) | Team MVP: Josh Jacobs
The Raiders have building blocks in place, though they fall short of 2019’s 7-9 record, as the Chargers and Broncos both continue to improve immediately. Jon Gruden’s bunch is flush with talent (starting with the dynamic running back) but will have to wait another year before they challenge in a loaded AFC West. They will eventually try Mariota out at quarterback (a favorite of Mike Mayock as well as Gruden) but learn what Tennessee did: he is little more than a journeyman. Raiders pick near the top of the draft in 2021, poised to make noise next season. After all, with Gruden on a ten-year contract, what’s the rush? And oh, by the way, the stadium will look amazing.
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