2019 AFC West Preview

September 4, 2019

For the overall 2019 NFL Preview click here, and see the links below for the rest of the divisional previews.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Overview | Playoffs | Awards

Chiefs 11-5

Patrick Mahomes’ 2018 season was nothing short of a KC masterpiece. MVP. Offensive Player of the Year. Countless records. Heck, he’s even got a logo now.

But how do you follow up a 50-touchdown season? Mahomes is almost certain to suffer a regression. But the good news for Kansas City is he can have lesser numbers and still play better for an offense that, even without Kareem Hunt, is loaded with playmakers (especially if 30-year-old Shady McCoy has anything left in the tank for his old Eagles coach Andy Reid).

Defense is the reason why the Chiefs won’t realize their Super Bowl potential. The league’s worst unit in 2018 added Tyrann Mathieu and hired Steve Spagnuolo as coordinator for a unit that swapped out Dee Ford for Frank Clark in a move that may be breaking even. Kansas City may need another offseason to shore up that defense before they are ready for Super Bowl glory.

Chargers 11-5

As you may recall from last year’s NFL Preview, I’m pretty high on the L.A. Chargers.

I’m not as high on them this year (and definitely not as high as Melvin Ingram), but I still think Old Man (Philip) Rivers is good enough to be a championship QB and has the weapons at his disposal to have another strong season. The Melvin Gordon holdout seems unlikely to end anytime soon, but that shouldn’t be a huge deal since they appear to have some depth at RB with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson.

The defense is talented and stout, but Derwin James is out indefinitely with a stress fracture, which could be a loss too big to overcome against the likes of Patrick Mahomes (twice), Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger on the schedule. I have Kansas City edging out the Chargers for the division title on a tiebreaker, but if James is back in time for the stretch run, this is a potential division winner with the ability to make a deep playoff run.

Broncos 5-11

In what has become an annual move for Denver, John Elway has decided to shore up the Broncos’ shoddy QB play by acquiring an equally shoddy replacement.

Joe Flacco takes over for Case Keenum despite an obvious regression in Baltimore and a lousy attitude about his role as the place holder for second-round QB-of-the-future Drew Lock.

Denver went in the exact opposite direction of the current trend by hiring 61-year-old defensive-oriented coach Vic Fangio, a man who sounds like he’s going to be a stereotypical relic of days gone by in pro football. But that relic will keep an already-good defense among the league’s best — it just won’t be enough to offset how bad the offense is likely to be. Again.

Raiders 5-11

If headlines could fuel the Raiders’ final season in Oakland, this would be a Super Bowl contender instead of a fascinating train wreck on Hard Knocks.

Derek Carr wants to fight talking heads. Just pick an issue for Antonio Brown — gnarly feetoutdated helmetpissing match with his old QB — you name it, he’s got it.

The Raiders are the first team since 2001 to boast three first-round picks: Clellin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs and Johnathan Abram. All of them figure to play a significant role in the fortunes of the Silver and Black. But none of them will have the immediate impact of the guys they dealt to get those picks (Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack), and the additions of Trent Brown and Jonathan Hankins are solid — just enough to make me think is anything beyond a more-talented last-place team set back by a long travel schedule. Especially if Jon Gruden’s weird fascination with Nathan Peterman leads to the league’s worst QB actually taking the field.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on WTOP.com.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up