2023 AFC West preview

September 5, 2023

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Chiefs 13-4

It’s been nearly two full decades since the NFL has had a repeat champion. Is this the year that changes?

Kansas City has the best quarterback, the best coach and a roster that remains the envy of the NFL. But the Chris Jones holdout on a new contract with the team could adversely affect the Chiefs’ season if it lasts deep into the season, as he’s threatened.

Let’s be real though: Patrick Mahomes alone wins you 11 games so even though the schedule could push KC out of the division lead, this team is still making a deep playoff run.

Chargers 9-8

This franchise is synonymous with snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, with last year’s epic collapse in Jacksonville after amassing a 27-point halftime lead.

Though offense wasn’t necessarily the problem, L.A. went out and hired Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator and the Chargers made Justin Herbert the league’s highest-paid quarterback (at least until it’s Joe Burrow’s turn to get paid).

The defense boasts too many big names to finish 20th in total defense and 22nd in scoring like it did last year (under a defensive-minded coach, mind you) but it all comes down to this: Brandon Staley isn’t a head coach. And until the Chargers get one (maybe Sean McVay wants to leave the Rams but stay in L. A.?) the Chargers are gonna Charger.

Broncos 5-12

The good news for Denver is that the offense can’t get worse in 2023.

The Broncos were dead last in scoring last season at 16.9 points per game and Russell Wilson had by far the worst season of his career. But it’s not all on him; Denver has missed the playoffs in each of the seven seasons since winning Super Bowl 50 and have averaged under 20 points per game in five of those seasons.

So while Sean Payton wants to make it all Nathaniel Hackett’s fault, this is a project that won’t turn around overnight.

Chances are Wilson won’t be as bad as last year but his time as an effective NFL starter appear to be over, which makes the Wilson-Payton marriage tenuous, at best.

Raiders 4-13

With the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup and the Oakland A’s (maybe) following the Silver and Black trail to the desert, the Raiders have some pressure to start winning in Las Vegas.

There’s a solid case they downgraded at quarterback, ditching Derek Carr for the damaged goods that is Jimmy Garoppolo.

One benefit for Vegas: The Raiders play an NFL record six games against teams coming off Monday Night Football. But it’s hard to believe a Josh McDaniel-coached team will be good enough to take significant advantage.

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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.

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